Celebrating the North Shore’s rich history, and under the leadership of Dr. Cliff Hersey and Professor David Goss, Gordon’s Institute for Public History launched a series of high-profile Thursday night lectures in Salem. A film crew (pictured here) from C-SPAN captured the first. The Old Town Hall Lectures (located at 32 Derby Square in Salem) began Thursday, November 18, with Richard Francis, author of The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of a Conscience, discussing Judge Sewall’s public apology for his role in the trials. Francis taught American Studies at Manchester (England) University.
|Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll|
Around 40 people attended Francis’ lecture and book signing, including Salem’s Mayor Kim Driscoll, who welcomed the crowd on behalf of “the great partnership the City of Salem has with Gordon College.” Provost Mark Sargent also was on hand to introduce the event and noted that in the same space so many performances of Cry Innocent had been held that it’s now the longest running show on the North Shore.
“The Salem witch hunt has entered our vocabulary as the very essence of injustice,” said David Goss, codirector of Gordon’s Institute for Public History. “Judge Sewall’s extraordinary act of apology was a turning point not only for Sewall but also for America’s values. This is a national story, and it affected every town on the North Shore, not just Salem. We are honored to have Richard Francis journey from his home in England to kick off our lecture series.”
Francis lectured in front of photos of Cotton Mathers, whose writing about the witch trials was influential in his research, and Louisa May Alcott, whose life he explores in his new book, Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia.
|Provost Mark Sargent|
|Richard Francis (author)|
The next lecture will be Thursday, December 16, at 7:30 p.m., and features Emerson (Tad) Baker of Salem State University. Baker will offer an illustrated lecture and book signing on the topic “Witchcraft and Conflict in Early New England.”