Podcasts: Unobscured, Season 1: The Salem Witch Trials

And of course, we have the third podcast on this list that’s written and produced by Aaron Mahnke. Unobscured is different from the others, though, in that it follows one single story from beginning to end across the entire season of the podcast (a 12-week season).

History is full of stories we think we know. They are old and dark, but time has robbed us of perspective and clarity. They’ve become obscured and misunderstood.

That’s why this series exists: to dig deep and shed light on some of history’s darkest moments. To make it Unobscured. Each season will pair narrative storytelling from Aaron Mahnke, the creator of Lore, with prominent historian interviews.

Season 1

Season 1 takes listeners on a deep dive into the dark and misunderstood events of the Salem witch trials in 1692.

I was briefly fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials when I was younger, although it ran itself out in just a few weeks. I didn’t go digging for extra materials, and once we read The Crucible in eleventh grade, I thought that was the end. It was over and done, and I thought I had the entire story of what went on in Salem during those dark months.

Yes, months. The entirety of the Salem Witch Trials took a little over a year, and left complete devastation in its wake. Yes, it was a time before real fact-checking and when people allowed their superstitions to take over their common sense, but the fact remains that it’s something so extraordinary that I think this podcast should be listened to alongside The Crucible in school (maybe even assigned for homework — how cool would it be to have an assignment where you only have to listen to a 45 minute podcast for homework?). There is so much history in this podcast, so much research, that I am really glad Mahnke is releasing the entire interviews he did with the witch trial experts as “extras” on the end of the first season.

You may think you know what happened during the Salem Witch Trials, and I thought I did, too. I encourage you to take a listen to this podcast and see just how dark this fake witch hunt turned out to be. There’s betrayal (of family, friends, spouses), there’s false accusations, there are plea bargains, and so much more.

What’s even creepier is that we still have no real explanation as to why the witch trials started. Was it just a game, made up by three bored teenage girls one night? Was it something in the wheat that made the bread they ate? Was it something in the water? A natural gas leak? We will never truly know. We have many first-hand accounts of the trials, but nothing that stands as solid proof of why these girls behaved the way they did.

This is a very small part of history, but it’s also very interesting. If you have even a passing interest in the Salem Witch Trials or early American settlements, take a look at this podcast, which I will give 5/5 stars, because I can’t find anything to be dissatisfied with about this podcast.

If you have anything other podcasts that focus on just a small area of history, let me know in the comments!

And as always, keep reading (and listening).


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