Town of Salem

Salem was founded in 1766 by the Moravians–a Protestant religious group that first organized in what is now known as the Czech Republic in the 15th century. The Moravians were active missionaries who established an earlier settlement in Bethlehem, PA, before settling “Wachovia” in the North Carolina backcountry in 1753. In the Wachovia Tract of nearly 100,000 acres, Salem was developed as the central administrative, spiritual, craft, and professional town surrounded by five outlying congregations.

The Town of Salem has a rich and deep history, with the restoration supported by many different sources of historical documentation and research. Core material is the primary source information published in the Records of the Moravians in North Carolina based on records held by the Moravian Archives, Southern Province in Winston-Salem. In addition, documentation such as private papers, historic photographs, and artistic renderings, as well as ongoing research of buildings, objects, and archaeological resources, have been critical to understanding the Town’s history.

Research of the Town has typically been divided among lines of research: “Place” includes surviving aspects of the physical site,” People and Culture” encompasses the residents, their activities, and cultural influences, and “History” treats the more general historical context. Each of the areas will lead to information about Salem and its history and is cross-linked to various aspects.

Research is an ongoing process, and scholarship is constantly updating, refining, and expanding the knowledge base at Old Salem Museums & Gardens. Feel free to contact Old Salem for additional information or assistance in research.