14 May: America’s Last Witchtrial

Can ‘mesmeric’ mental powers harm you from afar? Well, no. But that didn’t stop Lucretia L. S. Brown accusing fellow Christian Scientist Daniel H. Spofford of ‘malicious animal magnetism’ in court; a case that concluded on 14th May, 1878.


No doubt bolstered by the fact it took place in Salem, Massachusetts – home of the historic American witchcraft trials, in the 1690s – the case aroused public interest with its judgements on mind control and spiritualism.  


In this episode, Olly, Rebecca and Arion consider the gender politics of witchcraft trials, examine the enduring popularity of folk magic in rural communities, and uncover the surprising rise of witchcraft in the 21st century…


Further reading:

‘The Other Salem Witchtrials’ – a blog-post from the Oxford University Press:


• Brian A. Pavlac investigates the ‘original’ Salem witch trials for TED:

• ‘The Long Lost Friend’ by John George Hohman (1820):