Thursday, November 4, 2010

Old Town Hall lecture series in Salem

Via Bonnie Hurd Smith of HistorySmiths is news of a new lecture series in Salem sponsored by the Gordon College Institute for Public History. The lectures happen on the third Thursday of every month, November through May, at 7:30 at the Old Town Hall (where Cry Innocent is performed).

First up is author and historian Richard Francis discussing his 2005 book, Judge Sewall's Apology: The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of an American Conscience. Samuel Sewall's diary, which he kept for his own reasons and not with an eye to posterity, is one of the most well-rounded pictures we now have of life in Puritan New England and includes charming, light-hearted passages about his romantic courtships. But he is best known for his role as one of the nine judges during the witch trials of 1692, and was one of the only people to publicly apologize for his role in the hysteria. On his blog, Francis writes:
My biography of [Sewall] explores a complex and endearing human being, who participated in an injustice that reflected an essentially medieval view of the world, and who, by the time he embarked on an extraordinary series of courtships late in his life, had taught himself how to be a modern man.
Visit Old Town Hall Lectures for the complete schedule, which includes Smith speaking about Judith Sargent Murray on January 20.