By Shinae Lee ’19
On October 18, at the Old Town Hall in Salem, Gordon professor David Goss and the city of Salem opened the doors to the Salem Museum for a new exhibit. Students and colleagues of Goss, Gordon alumni, Salem residents and City officials including Mayor Kim Driscoll attended the opening event.
This exhibit, started as a project by Goss 7 years ago, consists of hanging banners explaining various parts of the history of Salem, particularly the stories easily overlooked due to the Witch Trials. Along with the banners, there was a performance artist, dressed in historical attire, playing guitar and singing old folk songs. And an actor delivered an excerpt of a speech given by Salem Abolitionist, Sarah Parker Remon, regarding the issue of Slavery.
According to Mayor Driscoll, “Salem has always been a place that’s welcomed others; we have had dark parts of our history but we’ve also had these bright moments as well.” She added, “this is a place for our school children, our community members to really learn about the streets that they’re walking on now, ports they’re using now and better understand their connection to the rest of the world.”
The museum displays begin with the stories of the first colonists that founded Salem, and chronologically follows historical events and figures special to Salem. According to Goss, an “important chapter in the Salem story has been missing.” He said that the Salem museum not only “talks about the slave aspect of Salem’s history, but also how Salem people came forward and took a stand in the anti-slavery movement; making Salem the focal point of the abolitionist movement in New England.”
Along with Salem’s early participation in the Triangle trade and slavery, the museum includes Salem’s participation in the Civil War and Anti-slavery movement.
Another banner focuses on Salem’s successful trade businesses, as ships traveled to Asia and brought valuable goods back to Salem ports. Others highlight influential women from Salem and the City’s role supporting the Revolutionary War. There was also emphasis on Salem’s industrial and manufacturing success with Salem’s openness to welcoming immigrants to work in the factories. This helps explain Salem’s diversity and openness mentioned by Mayor Driscoll.
Although the intended audience is for Salem Residents, the museum is open to the public for everyone.