Oct 4, 2019

Salem Witch Board Museum

Last Friday I took a trip into Salem to see its latest attraction, the Salem Witch Board Museum!

It's housed in the back of a small shop called Remember Salem that sells all sorts of Harry Potter merch. The shop itself isn't that big and I was just there a few weeks ago when there was no sign of the museum. Now there's an archway behind the register into the museum.

You may have some preconceived mental image when you hear museum and while this is certainly a fantastic exhibit, it's more or less two rooms packed with the history of the Ouija board and other related things.

The self guided tour starts out with some of the earliest examples and history of the talking board. While there are many boards on display (as you'll see) the best part was talking to John Kozik, owner of the collection and Treasurer of the Talking Board Historical Society, which I didn't even know was a thing before my visit.

He was very welcoming to questions and talked about the history of the Ouija board. There was one board on display that had yellow caution tape wrapped around it and its box with a hand written letter accompanying it (which I see that I didn't take a photo of!). John told us the story behind this particular board and that the former owner was the one who wrapped it in the bright yellow tape to keep anyone else from using it.

John said he sometimes receives "donations" to his collection from people that want to get rid of their boards. Because of the lore and superstition associated with them, people don't want to put them in the trash. In the case of the tape-wrapped board, you can read the letter where the woman describes a few bad things that were happening in her life...until she got rid of the board!

John saves every piece of correspondence, be it hand written or electronic, from people that give him boards. When I suggested he put them together for display in the museum, he said that he does already have them put together but hasn't brought them in yet. Chances are, if you're visiting a Ouija museum, you'd be interested in spooky stories! 

In addition to the boards themselves, there's a lot of Ouija related things, like this book from the Young Reader's Christian Library. I made it a mission to get a copy of this because I imagine it will be...interesting. Turns out, it wasn't much of a mission. On Amazon, the author posted saying he's made it available for free on his website! You can give your email address and get a PDF copy of the book here. My Halloween reading list is pretty full so I probably won't get to this one for a bit but I'll be sure to report back.

Just like other mass market board games, Ouija has gotten a few pop culture versions. Stranger Things is the most recent. You wouldn't think you need a proof reader for Ouija boards but whoever was in charge of this Supernatural one definitely missed that it has no "Z" before these were made.

I found this one particularly interesting. It was made in 1944, during WWII. The spaces around the outside are actually answers to specific questions you can ask in the middle of each track. One of the questions is how will the war end. Quite a few answers mention Hitler and not all of them are happy endings. If you view the photo on Flickr, you can zoom in and read it better.

Maybe all this talk of spirit boards has you thinking of 1986's horror flick Witchboard. Well, here's a promotional item from the home video release!

There's a small Victorian parlor setup in the back with a couple of boards if you want to do your own communicating while you're there.

I have lots more photos but don't want the post to be too long. You can flip through my album here, or head over to Flickr to see bigger images.

2019.09 - Salem Witch Board Museum

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  1. I reeeeeealy need to get out to Salem some day. Every year you tease us and every year I say I really need to get to Salem soon! This place looks so cool.

    1. If you ever do trek out, definitely let me know. At the very least I can give some tips. It's a great place to visit in Spring, Summer, and Fall but I'm betting you'd want to visit in October :)

  2. Hey! So I was looking forward to this post last week and then somehow forgot to look for it on Friday. But here I am now. :) This is some place! Did you end up sitting on that couch and trying out a Ouija Board? I was especially interested in the WWII board. Wow, I can't believe that they included some not so happy Hitler endings to the war on there! And I also can't believe that the letter 'Z' was left off that other one.

    There's a show I watched on YouTube once where a woman recounts her scary Ouija Board tale and everything she went through trying to get rid of that board. I ought to look that up and send it to you. I don't get scared by a lot of ghost story shows, but this one got to me!

    P.S. I like your new blog background!

    1. We did not take a board for a spin. If there is one place I wouldn't want to use one, it's a place where there are a lot of them around.

      I'll have to see if I can look up that YouTube video. John had plenty of stories about the people that have had experiences with their boards.

    2. Dex ~ I can understand that. You'd be outnumbered by boards and who knows what. Especially since he has kindly taken some suspicious boards off people's hands.

      I've been trying and trying to find that video I wanted to share, but the one on YouTube appears to have been removed. I'm running across all kinds of other cool Ouija Board videos in the process, though. I'll keep trying and let you know if I find it.