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The Salem Witch Trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft that occurred in No-Maj (Muggle) colonial Massachusetts in the years 1692 and 1693.[1][2]


The Salem Witch Trials occurred in the settlement of Salem in colonial Massachusetts in 1692 and 1693,[1][2] and resulted in the executions of twenty people accused of witchcraft, most of them women.[1] Some of these women were actually witches, though they were entirely innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted. Others were simply No-Majes unlucky enough to be swept up in a moment of mass hysteria.[2]

The trials were the culmination of Puritan witch hunts in North America. Most of the judges who presided over the trials were Puritans, but, according to wizarding historians, at least two were actually Scourers seeking to settle personal vendettas against other wizards.[2]


The Salem memorial in the Magical Congress of the United States of America Headquarters

The Salem witch trials were a major traumatic event in the history of the wizarding world.[2][3] They provoked many witches and wizards who had settled in the New World to return to their homelands, and helped to dissuade further immigration for centuries to come, especially by pure-blood families.[2]

The lobby of the MACUSA headquarters in the Woolworth Building in New York featured four golden statues of phoenixes erected in memory of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials.[3]

In the 1920s, the New Salem Philanthropic Society, a fanatical No-Maj group looking to expose and destroy wizards and witches, called themselves the "Second Salemers."[4]

The book The Scars of Salem: Essays on the Witch Trials of 1692 contained a collection of essays on the Salem Witch Trials and their lasting impact on the American wizarding community.[5]

The names of the defendants in the Trials were sometimes used as epithets or invocations by American wizards and witches in the early 20th century. Tina Goldstein, for instance, used the names of Deliverance Dane and Mercy Lewis on two separate occasions in December 1926 (in both cases expressing her exasperation with Newt Scamander).

The witch trials, specifically ones that happened in 1692, were covered in sixth year History of Magic classes, at least in the 1989–1990 school year.[6]

Behind the scenes

  • Though the image from Pottermore depicts two witches being burned at the stake, this is a common misconception; in the real Salem trials, nineteen of the twenty people convicted of witchcraft were hanged, with one pressed to death beneath an increasingly heavy load of stones.[1]


Notes and references