March is Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating the women who have contributed to Salem’s history over the years. This year, 2017, we live in a Salem that has a woman at the helm, Mayor Kim Driscoll; a woman in the State House, Senator Joan Lovely; a woman as the head of the Salem school district, Superintendent Margarita Ruiz; the first woman Chief of Police, Chief Mary Butler; and President Patricia Meservey is leading Salem State University into the future. Salem is a community that nurtures and encourages strong women.
It is only fitting, as we make history going forward, that we acknowledge and celebrate the women in Salem’s past. This weekend, there will be programs at the House of the Seven Gables, Phillips House Museum, and more.
Five remarkable women have already been named here, and they are the women who are actively building Salem’s future. Here are four women in Salem’s history whose stories we tell often:
Mary Spencer created the Gibralter, believed to be America’s first commercially produced candy, which is still sold at Ye Olde Pepper Companie.
Caroline Emmerton purchased the House of the Seven Gables, turned it into a museum, and use the profits from the museum to fund her Settlement House, which provided training for immigrant girls, boys, and adults.
Elizabeth Peabody opened the first Kindergarten in America.
Bessie Phillips establish the Stephen Philips Memorial Trust House as a museum to be enjoyed by all, which today is part of Historic New England and the only home on Chestnut Street that is open to the public.
The thirteen innocent women who were hanged during the Salem Witch Trials, accused of practicing witchcraft, are perhaps the inspiration for many of the bright and strong women who have led Salem ever since. We remember Bridget Bishop, Martha Carrier, Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Sarah Good, Dorcas Hoar, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, Alice Parker, Mary Parker, Ann Pudeator, Margaret Scott, and Sarah Wildes.
For more information on the historic women of Salem, explore the Salem Women’s History Trail.