Ben Ray's Salem Witch Trials Maps Featured in Film on Salem's Secrets

March 18, 2019

Maps from the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project, led by Benjamin Ray, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and IATH Fellow at UVA, are featured in "Salem's Secrets," an upcoming Smithsonian feature. The 44-minute film features a team of scholars looking at evidence for the location of the executions of those accused, tried, and convicted of witchcraft in 1692 in the Massachusetts colony.

Maps showing the history of accusations and trials during the time, developed in 2002 at IATH for the project, were utilized for the film. The IATH project included maps tracing the spread of accusations over time. Prof. Ray's 2015 book, Satan and Salem (University of Virginia Press), drew on a large digital archive of maps and court transcripts to document and examine the factors that led to and fed the rapidly spreading hysteria and fear. The UVA Library Scholars' Lab also helped Prof. Ray map the execution site, and confirmed it as Proctor's Ledge. For the film, Edmund Earle of Edgeworx Studios generated an updated version of the maps, utilizing 3D data to in conjunction with previous maps, to demonstrate the evidence.

The film, Salem's Secrets, is part of the Smithsonian series America's Hidden Stories, and will be broadcast March 30 and April 27 on the Smithsonian Channel.