NEH-funded Summer Seminar at Endicott College.

The Salem Witch Trials: Their World & Legacy
Calling all middle and high school teachers, school librarians, and museum educators!


(Beverly, Massachusetts)  – Endicott College in Beverly Mass., in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Humanities, is calling for middle and high school teachers, school librarians and museum educator among others, to participate in a three-week summer seminar (July 6 through July 24, 2020) entitled The Salem Witch Trials: Their World & Legacy . The deadline for applications is Sunday, March 1, 2020.


Participants will engage in an in-depth and collaborative study of the origin, development, and legacy of the Salem Witch Trials, a foundational event in American history that continues to attract scholarly attention and widespread popular interest. Seminar participants will have the rare opportunity to work with original trial transcripts and other primary sources at the Peabody Essex Museum’s Phillips Library in Salem, and examine selections from the Danvers (formerly Salem Village) Archival Center’s renowned Brehaut Witchcraft Collection . In addition to offering guided group discussions of key texts, participants will visit and study historic sites and memorials relating to the trials in Salem and Danvers.

Since 1692, the Salem Witch Trials have been dramatized, mythologized and re-imagined in various  forms of culture. The specter of Salem has been invoked in times of national anxiety, representing Americans’ fear of the “Other,” and is synonymous with unfounded mass hysteria.


“The overriding goal of the seminar is to help participants enhance their teaching of American history, civics, and literature, but also to discover the rewards and challenges of studying the trials,” said Dr. Elizabeth Matelski, assistant professor of history at Endicott College. “The trials, after all, have one of the most contested historiographies of any event from the past. More has been written by scholars about the events of 1692 with less agreement than perhaps any other historical subject, particularly in the history of early America.”


According to Matelski, this lack of consensus, combined with the growing number of literary, televisual, and cinematic portrayals of the trials, and the blatant commercialization of the trials in present-day Salem (the “Witch City” as it has been officially designated), raises many questions: What really caused the trials? How did they unfold? Do they still matter, and if so, why? What connections, if any, do the trials have to modern events and to our understanding of American identities? The Endicott seminar is designed to help participants explore these questions, examine the history of and myths surrounding the trials, and study topics such as Puritanism, witchcraft, legal practices, gender roles, slavery, and Native American history.

Themes to be examined include:


  • How the search for definitive truths about an event like the Salem Witch Trials can often be elusive.
  • How the “meaning” of an event like the Salem Witch Trials evolves to reflect changing cultural and political agendas and scholarly trends.
  • How race is a crucial element in the Salem Witch Trials.
  • How literature and popular culture can distort, embellish, and re-image the past.
  • How digital history/humanities is expanding our knowledge of the Salem Witch Trials while also helping students develop their digital literacy skills.
  • The similarities and differences between the Salem Witch Trials and 20th century instances of hysteria, fear, and scapegoating.

Eligibility/ How to apply:
This program seeks to select a diverse group of educators and is designed principally for full-time or part-time middle school and high school teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously affiliated schools, museum educators, as well as homeschooling parents. Applications from practitioners in the fields of history, English, literature, and civics will be accepted. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, residents of U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign nationals who have been residing in the United States or its territories for at least three years immediately preceding the application deadline. Foreign nationals teaching abroad at non-U.S. chartered institutions are not eligible to apply. Five seminar spaces are reserved for those who are new to the profession (those who have been in their academic field for five years or less). The selection committee will be accepting 16 participants in total.


Download the NEH eligibility form


Those selected to participate will receive a stipend of $2,700, half to be paid upon arrival and the remainder to be paid upon completion of the seminar. Seminar participants will also be able to receive PDPs for a nominal fee through Endicott’s Van Loan School .


Participants will have the opportunity to stay in a residence hall on Endicott’s ocean-front campus for a modest nightly fee. Workshops are scheduled Monday through Friday, with weekends free. Several weekday evenings are set aside for film screenings, informal meals, and other gatherings.


Click here for more details and a full schedule .