Since William Penn presided over the state’s only official witch trial in 1684, witchcraft and folk magic have been a part of the history of the Keystone state. English and German settlers brought their beliefs in magic with them from the Old World—sometimes with dangerous consequences. In 1802, an Allegheny County judge helped an accused witch escape an angry mob. Susan Mummey was not so fortunate. In 1934 she was shot and killed in her home by a young Schuylkill County man who was convinced that she had cursed him. Views on folk magic were complex. While witches were feared in the Pennsylvania German tradition, powwowers were and are revered for their abilities to heal, lift curses and find lost objects. Folklorist Thomas White traces the history and lore of witchcraft and the occult that quietly live on in Pennsylvania even today.
About the Speaker: Thomas White is the university archivist and curator of special collections in the Gumberg Library at Duquesne University. He is also an adjunct lecturer in Duquesne’s History Department and an adjunct professor of history at La Roche University. White received a master’s degree in public history from Duquesne University. Besides the folklore and history of Pennsylvania, his areas of interest include public history, American cultural history and the occult. He is the award-winning author of eleven books, including Legends and Lore of Western Pennsylvania, Forgotten Tales of Pennsylvania, Ghosts of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Forgotten Tales of Pittsburgh, Forgotten Tales of Philadelphia (coauthored with Edward White), Gangs and Outlaws of Western Pennsylvania (coauthored with Michael Hassett), Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History and Lore, Supernatural Lore of Pennsylvania: Ghosts, Monsters and Miracles (editor), Haunted Roads of Western Pennsylvania (coauthored with Tony Lavorgne) and The Witch of the Monongahela: Folk Magic in Early Western Pennsylvania.
About the Program: Admission is Pay as You Wish! All proceeds benefit the development of future programming and the preservation of the History Center and its collections. The History Center is home to over 750,000 manuscripts, 100,000 photographs, and 80,000 artifacts. Your donation helps us to preserve and share those resources.
Presentation is via Zoom, and will be recorded and available for 7 days for all registered participants. We will email out a Zoom link the day of the presentation, and email a link to the recording within 24 hours. Note: the Zoom link emailed out the day of the presentation only takes you to the live presentation; the link emailed out the day after will contain the recorded version.
Generously sponsored by The Haverford Trust Company.