October 25, 2017

Halloween in 1908


At the turn of the 20th century Halloween became more focused on family fun and community events. News outlets encouraged parents and party planners to remove any ties to superstition, witchcraft and frightening lore from their celebrations. The holiday was often observed through seasonal foods, costumes and games.

These postcards depict typical Halloween imagery from 1908. Although sinister symbols such as devils, witches, and black cats can still be seen in the artwork, the main focus of the images shows the more family focused traditions of the time, including bobbing for apples and gathering for a harvest feast.













*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections. Images above are from their collections. 

October 17, 2017

Haunted Happenings - Salem, Massachusetts



The Salem Chamber of Commerce introduced Haunted Happenings in 1982 as a weekend-long Halloween celebration with events throughout the city. The weekend included a Horribles Parade, with costumes judged by Laurie Cabot, and a witches brew contest at Victoria Station. Coinciding with Haunted Happenings, The Essex Institute hosted an exhibit “Salem Witches, Documents of an Early American Drama”, which focused on the Salem Witch Trials.

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1982 Haunted Happenings Poster 
The first year was a success and the series continued to gain momentum each year, adding new attractions and partnering with more businesses and organizations across the city. In the 1990s, Haunted Happenings marketing was increased with hope that Salem’s tourism could expand into fall, a usually quiet time in the waterfront community. By the end of the decade, Haunted Happenings had grown from a weekend celebration to one spanning ten days.
In 1992, the tercentenary of the Witch Trials brought an international spotlight to the City with the dedication of the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. News coverage created a renewed interest in Salem’s history and attractions.
The first Halloween parade was held in 1995, beginning modestly with costumed school children. The parade signified the city’s transition to family-friendly Halloween events and activities.The parade now acts as the official kick-off of October's festivities.
Haunted Happenings now draws approximately 400,000 people annually to Salem. In 2007, the grand fireworks finale was added to mark the end of the month long celebration.



*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

October 10, 2017

The Salem Witch Museum

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Postcard showing the Salem Witch Museum
A fire destroyed much of the church’s interior in July of 1902, including its 19th century organ. Damage from the fire was still being repaired when in 1925 a decision was made to lower the height of the exterior towers.

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1908 real photo postcard
Now a major tourist attraction, this Gothic Revival building adjacent to Salem Common was once home to the Second Unitarian Church. The church was built between 1844-1846 and was designed by New York architect Minard Lafever, well known for his Gothic Revival style.
In 1958, following a consolidation of Unitarian churches, the building was listed for sale. The following year The Salem Auto Museum and Americana Shops opened with a collection of art work, vintage cars, and a fabricated idyllic Salem street, complete with fourteen shops. A decade after opening the interior of the museum was destroyed by another fire. Many items were lost including an 1825 hand tub and 1925 Mercedes Benz.
After extensive remodeling, the Salem Witch Museum opened in 1972. The museum advertised the use of “modern day technology” to “authentically re-create the emotions of 1692.” The museum continues its operation, attracting thousands of visitors each year.




*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

October 8, 2017

Housekeeper Wanted, Apply Within: The Self-Service of Women’s Benevolence in Nineteenth Century Salem


Benjamin Crowninshield Mansion

Housekeeper Wanted, Apply Within: The Self-Service of Women’s Benevolence in Nineteenth Century Salem

ABSTRACT:
Often inspired by religious sermons, female benevolence in the nineteenth century is usually dismissed as the result of a passive woman’s “impulses from the heart.” This portrayal fails to capture the dedicated and systematic approach to business that these women upheld. Female-run societies became their own respectable economic entities, collecting and distributing large sums of money. Although benevolent in their mission, these societies, like those of men, were also remarkably self-serving. [3,608 more words]

Read more: Academia.edu

October 2, 2017

Black Cats and Halloween


The association between witches and black cats dates back to the middle ages in Europe. Stray alley cats were often companions of poor and elderly woman, who were easy targets for witch accusations. The nocturnal habits of these cats, along with their preference to warm themselves by the fire, gave them a place in the hysteria as the partner of the witch. Black cats were specifically targeted because their coloring was linked to evil. Although black cats are no longer discriminated against to the extent that they once were, their connection to witches still lives on in present day Halloween imagery.
This artwork shows black cats in Halloween postcards from the early 20th century.


*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections. Images above are from their collections.