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'The Rise of Witch City' author to speak at Abbot Public Library Oct. 28

Posted by Liam O'Kennedy  October 18, 2012 01:00 PM

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The following was submitted by Abbot Public Library:

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A fireside talk will be presented in the Abbot Public Library’s Reading Room, on Sunday, October 28th, at 2:00 pm, by Maggi Smith-Dalton, author of "A History of Spiritualism and the Occult in Salem: The Rise of Witch City." The event is free and open to the public, and is a collaboration of the Library with the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore.

Salem, Massachusetts, is well known as “The Witch City.” However, few people know the history behind the religion of Spiritualism and the social movement that took root in this romanticized place. At the turn of the century, seers, mediums and magnetic healers all hoped to connect to the spiritual world. The popularity of Spiritualism and renewed interest in the occult blossomed out of an attempt to find an intellectual and emotional balance between science and religion. In her new book, “A History of Spiritualism and the Occult in Salem,” Maggi Smith-Dalton explores the religion of Spiritualism, an important element in 19th-century culture, in America and worldwide. Salem provided fertile ground for the growth of this and other religions, yet, because of its link to witchcraft in the infamous trials of 1692, it struggled with anything that might give more fuel to the fire of being linked to occult practices.

The book also tells a larger story about the way alternative religions such as Spiritualism grew in 19th-century America, using Salem, a town that prided itself on its arts, culture, professional class, and love of science, as the connecting thread. In her second book for The History Press, Smith-Dalton delves into Salem’s exotic history, unraveling the beginnings of Spiritualism and the rise of The Witch City.

Maggi Smith-Dalton is a prizewinning short story writer and has a long history of writing feature articles and columns for magazines and newspapers. In 2010, she began writing a weekly history column for the Boston Globe. She holds a master’s degree in American Studies, and her current scholarly work focuses on historic civic rituals that incorporate music as a primary element, a subject on which she has presented domestically and abroad. Her first book of Salem history, "Stories and Shadows from Salem’s Past," was published by The History Press in 2010. She serves as the President of the Institute for Music, History and Cultural Traditions, which runs two public programs: the American History and Music Project and the Salem History Society. In 2010, she was elected to the council of the New England American Studies Association.

The Abbot Public Library is located at 235 Pleasant Street, Marblehead, MA 01945. For additional information, please call 781-631-1481. 

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