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Who Do I Think I Am?


"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin





What is the goal of History? It is more than merely documenting events of the past. History challenges us to interpret past events and apply them to our current lives. While it can be dangerous to reference history in a literal sense, there is some comfort in seeing the atrocities of the past and knowing humanity was able to rebuild and thrive. History helps us to better understand the human condition, and what we can overcome.


Witch Hunts can be traced back to the 15th century in Europe, some historians would argue earlier. It was the spread of Christianity and a push for morality that started to vilify the practice and practitioners of magic. An estimated 50,000-200,000 people were executed as witches between 1400 and the late 1700s. The Salem Witch Trials are part of the larger history of Witch Hunts.


The Salem Witch Trials are often viewed as a singular moment in history, seemingly detached from everything around it. However, Salem was a direct result of many local and political factors. It played a role in the Separation of Church and State, as well as Freedom of the Press, during the writing of the Constitution. It is said that 100 million living people are connected to the Salem Witch Trials through their ancestry. In short, the Salem Witch Trials are a significant part of American history that helps us to better understand the building blocks of our country. The goal of this blog is to show the historical significance of Salem while chronicling the stories of the victims.


In my sophomore year of high school, I read Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned. One of the characters, Jesse, was an archaeologist. For some reason, that word, archaeologist just clicked, that was what I wanted to do with my life. During my Junior year of undergrad, I was looking for a thesis topic to do for independent study. My goal was to use that as a writing sample for grad school applications. My area of study, Historical Archaeology, and Forensic Osteology, along with an affinity toward the macabre and gothic, was what led me toward the Witch Trials, specifically Salem. There were still unanswered questions, archaeologically, so it gave me a potential project to work on for grad school.


However, I did not receive a graduate degree, instead, I opted to pursue a career in Construction. In my early 20’s I entered the Carpenters Union, I needed a steady job to pay for school and it offered me a good salary with excellent benefits, including retirement. As much as I love academia, I felt this was the job I was born to do, I have never felt more at home than I do on a job site. The people, the work, and even the high-stress situations are perfectly suited to my personality. I am incredibly grateful for an almost 20-year career and my success within it.


2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, I have certainly felt the effects of the Pandemic. However, for me, it has been a time of reflection and a realization that I crave academia despite how happy I am in my career. This has led me to turn my past interests into a passion project -- to pick up my research where I left off. These are stories that feel important to me and I feel a duty to tell them. I consider myself an independent researcher rather than an historian, but my aim is to write as one regardless. I don’t want a blog based on opinions or conjecture, any visit to Salem in the month of October proves that conjecture has been used for far too long.


My goal is to post a bi-monthly blog, this way I can have time to research the topics and write a comprehensive paper. I will use my Instagram account @thewitchacademic to track progress and interact with my followers. I want this to be a motivational and creative forum for all.


I plan to do some vlogging, my dream would be to show how I manage my time and stay motivated. I want it to be a more in-depth view of my personal life, or at least my research life. There has already been some interest in my starting a podcast. I want to focus on my work first, but I would love to interview experts in the field of History, Academia, and specifically Witch Hunts.


I am excited about what is on the horizon, and I hope you join me for this journey.

Laney

October 2020

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