Thursday, June 18, 2015

Emerson W. Baker

Emerson "Tad" Baker is a professor of History and former dean of the graduate school at Salem State University. He is the award-winning author of many works on the history and archaeology of early Maine and New England, including The Devil of Great Island: Witchcraft and Conflict in Early New England.

What are your ties to Maine and the Boothbay Peninsula?

I came to Maine in 1977, as a freshman at Bates College, and it has been my home ever since. In fact, I live in York, but commute to Massachusetts to teach at Salem State University. As an undergrad, many of my classmates would find summer jobs in Boothbay Harbor, and my first job out of college was as an archaeologist at nearby Pemaquid. So, I have many happy memories of Boothbay, as well as Dogfish Head in Southport. My wife is from Maine, and her two college roommates were both from Boothbay Harbor, so we still enjoy occasional trips back there.

What is your favorite thing about writing in Maine?  

Since my specialty is the history of Maine and New England, I can’t imagine a better place to live and write.

What are the most important themes in your work? 

My research and writing focuses on the early colonial history of Maine and New England, particularly the English settlers and their interaction with the other major populations of the region: the French immigrants, and the Native peoples who had inhabited the region for thousands of years.

Tell us about the book you will be signing at Books In Boothbay this year?

I will be signing my new history of the Salem witch trials, A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience.

What do you hope readers will discover in your latest book? 

I believe the Salem witch trials were a turning point in American history. They mark the beginning of the transition from Puritan to Yankee. They also mark the first large government cover up in American history, and beginning of the American tradition of distrust in government.

What do you feel about the future of our local libraries?

As a former library director, I believe strongly in the past, present and future of our local libraries. They are important centers of knowledge and of community.

 Come meet Emerson Baker and dozens of additional Maine writers and artists at Books in Boothbay on July 11!

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