DH Projects Analysis: Salem Witch Trials


What kind of files, data, objects are being used in the project in question?

The project uses primary sources in the forms of documents, historical maps, archival collections, contemporary books, court records, letters, sermons, and a catalog of people and accusations.  


What’s the project research question? Or, questions?

The goal of the project is to deepen the historical narrative surrounding the witch trials, analyze the events, locate execution sites and test the accuracy of hand-drawn maps with the use of modern tools and digital archiving.


What tools are being used?  Created?

The tools used for the project include the use of Geographic information systems (GIS) to expand and analyze historical maps as well as situate events that occurred in Salem during the trials. They used GIS to generate topographical maps and demonstrate the changes in urban geography.


What methods are being undertaken?

Using the GIS, specialists utilized the topography of Gallows Hill as well as current maps and aerial photos to create a viewshed analysis of Boston Street and Gallows Hill. This way, they could test the accuracy of Rebecca Eames’ claim that she could see the executions from where she lived as well as Perley’s hand-drawn maps. Additionally, ground-penetrating radar was used to search for relics or human remains at the proposed burial sites.

Michael Hoffman and Jack Hay