Salem Womxn’s History Day Honors Women Past and Present

by Joey Phoenix

Salem Womxn’s History Day falls this year on March 24, and local museums and businesses are honoring this day in Salem style. This day has become a local tradition since Mayor Kim Driscoll decreed the celebration of women a few years ago as part of the international happenings of Women’s History Month every March.

Salem, Massachusetts is no one thing. It’s a diverse community of strong, creative individuals who have worked together to develop a city that’s inclusive, diverse, and constantly up to something.

One of the things that makes it such a fascinating place to live and visit isn’t just the traditional tourist attractions which center around the Witch Trials, but more significantly the intersection where the influence history meets modern culture. Salem has incorporated its unique history into the fabric of its current experience in a way that deserves to be celebrated.

Anna Phillips stands in front of the Phillips House 34 Chestnut Street, Salem, Mass.
Photo courtesy of Phillips House Museum

What’s important to recognize is that Salem owes a great deal of gratitude to the contributions of women throughout its history – individuals like Caroline Emmerton, Anna Phillips, Mary Harrod Northend who used their family’s wealth to support numerous projects in Salem alongside working-class women like Delia Cawley, who served as a live-in waitress to the Phillips family to support her sister’s family.

“Salem has a very rich track record of women in leadership positions, as business owners and entrepreneurs, and beyond,” says Amber Newberry, owner of Salem alternative clothing store Die with Your Boots On and co-owner of FunDead Publications.

“I, personally, saw it as inspiring and think it’s important to keep that momentum going to set an example for other communities.”

This year’s Salem Womxn’s History Day theme focuses on the hidden histories of women’s contributions throughout the last three centuries. There will be events at historic venues like the Phillips House, the Witch House, and the House of the Seven Gables, as well as more modern takes such as the Daughters of Darkness festival hosted by Die with Your Boots On.

“While there is a lot to be learned from the historical figures of Salem, such as Bridget Bishop, Sophia and Elizabeth Peabody, Caroline Emmerton, and so many more; those who visit our town can also learn a lot from the current and growing number of successful and diverse people contributing to our community and economy.”

Amber Newberry, Owner of Die With Your Boots On and FunDead Publications

When asked the significance of this day for the North Shore, Melinda L. Huff, Museum Operations Manager for the Phillips House Museum on Chestnut Street in Salem, remarked, “The study and presentation of history is a means of making sense of the world we live in today.

“The Phillips House is pleased to be able to share the stories of women who worked behind the scenes and who represent the struggle of the immigrant experience – in the case of Phillips House this was Irish immigrants – and is so much on our minds and in the news.”

“In the larger picture of researching maritime wealth, the events surrounding 1692, and even our architectural legacy, we sometimes lose sight of stories not often shared. Women’s history is all of our history,” House of the Seven Gables Special Projects Manager Julie Arrison-Bishop explained.

“This year’s Salem Women’s History Day emphasizes that narrative. Each of the partners in this year’s events will be highlighting a unique aspect of women’s history and ways to interact with that history from theatre to lectures to specialty tours.”

It’s not just historic narratives that matter, it’s current ones too because it’s these stories that are shaping the future of the community in the same way that Salem’s history has shaped today.

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“With the impact of the thousands of tourist visitors who come to Salem to learn about our history, our tourist guests are all eyes on us.” Amber Newberry said.  “When they visit Salem, they’ll see a healthy economy that features not only women, but also non-binary, LGBTQ+, and people of color as owners or in management roles within the local community.

“While there is a lot to be learned from the historical figures of Salem, such as Bridget Bishop, Sophia and Elizabeth Peabody, Caroline Emmerton, and so many more; those who visit our town can also learn a lot from the current and growing number of successful and diverse people contributing to our community and economy.”


Check out these great events happening as part of Salem Womxn’s History Day, 2019.

Daughters of Darkness Festival – March 22 – 24, 2019

Concert, Vendor Fair, and  Event Showcase with many participating locations donating a portion of their profits to HAWC, hosted by Die with Your Boots On with Witch City Wicks, and FunDead Publications

Koto – March 22, 2019 @ 9:30PM – Midnight

Die With Your Boots On/Daughters of Darkness Music Showcase

Hawthorne Hotel – Saturday 3/23 5pm-10pm

Daughters of Darkness Night Market, featuring 3 floors of darkly themed women artists, writers, and entrepreneurs. Vendors are hand selected and curated for a very special batch of amazing businesses. Entry is $5 per person, full entry cost to be donated to HAWC Northshore. After party at Darq, in Koto!

Salem Womxn’s History Day Events – March 24, 2019

Essex Heritage
Women of North Shore Lighthouses
3 p.m. at Saint Joseph Hall
Cost: Free

Historian John Galluzzo explores some of the lesser known stories behind lighthouse keeping in Essex County.


History Alive, Inc.
Artists and Abolitionists: Salem’s Daughters Abroad
5 to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free for Salem residents but registration is required.

An interactive travelogue with Salem’s 19th century culture makers.


Phillips House Museum
Salem Women’s History Day at Phillips House
11 am – 3 pm
Cost: Free for Salem residents; non-residents $5.

A day of special guided tours focusing on the role of women at 34 Chestnut Street through the years. House tours run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the half hour.


The Salem Witch Museum
Women and Witchcraft
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free for Salem Residents.

In addition to The Witch Museum’s presentations, all are invited to meet two outspoken women accused of witchcraft in 1692. Hear about their lives, their accusations and their worries about the witchcraft outbreak and how it has progressed.


Feminist Gifts – Girl Power Gifts – Girl Power Gift Ideas – Empowering Women Gifts

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Salem Maritime National Historic Site
Open House at the Narbonne House: 349 years of Women’s History
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cost: Free

Join the National Park Rangers of Salem Maritime National Historic Site during this open house to explore the stories and artifacts of the women who owned, lived in, and worked in this small home over the last three centuries.


The Witch House
Massachusett Tribe Squaw Sachem
10 am – 5 pm
Cost: Free for Salem Residents

2019 is the 400-year anniversary of Squaw Sachem’s coming into power and ruling over Salem and the surrounding area. 

Daemonologie Blood and Bone
March 22 and 23 @ 8PM
Cost: $35

Join the Dolbeare’s as they try to figure out what is causing the strange afflictions of their beloved servant, Sukie. Larp theatre is a unique experience where participants can interact with the show in real time and are tasked with deciding the fate of the characters. You are invited as witnesses to the afflictions and decide who is responsible and how do we help young Sukie.

Specials Throughout Salem 3/22 – 3/24 at Womxn-Led Businesses

Witch Pix– 15% Off Witch Photo Shoots + 15% Donation to HAWC~ Book Online: https://www.witchpixofsalem.com/dodfestival

HausWitch – Mention Daughters of Darkness & get 13% off your purchase or buy the Snake Hair ‘Hex the Patriarchy’ Print and 30% will be donated to HAWC

Moody InteriorsMoody Interiors will be donating 20% of their net sales to HAWC during DoD Weekend!

Die With Your Boots On – 10% off full price purchases, and a free shopping tote for purchases over $50.


Joey Phoenix is a performance artist and the Managing Editor of Creative North Shore. Follow them on Twitter @jphoenixmedia. If you have an idea for a story, feature, or pictures of adorable llamas, feel free to send them a message at joeyphoenix@creativecollectivema.com

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