About Charleston Time Machine

The Charleston Time Machine is an imaginary time-travel device created by historian Dr. Nic Butler. It uses stories and facts from the rich, deep, colorful history of Charleston, South Carolina, as a means to educate, inspire, amuse, and even amaze the minds of our community. By exploring the stories of our shared past, we can better understand our present world and plan more effectively for the future.

The Charleston Time Machine is piloted by Nic Butler, Ph.D., an interdisciplinary historian with an infectious enthusiasm for Charleston’s colorful past. A native of Greenville County, South Carolina, Dr. Butler attended the University of South Carolina before completing a Ph.D. in musicology at Indiana University. He has worked as archivist of the South Carolina Historical Society, as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston, and as an historical consultant for the City of Charleston. 

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Recent Trips in Charleston's History

  • Christmas Traditions in Early Charleston

    Here in Charleston, we share a number of Christmas customs with communities near and far, but how deep are the Lowcountry roots of our modern holiday traditions? Today we’ll examine a few historic holiday anecdotes that are sure to please and might even serve as morsels of polite dinner conversation during the upcoming Christmas season.

  • The Shady History of Protecting Lowcountry Trees

    Shade-tree history is on my mind this Arbor Day. While some people want to uproot the grand oaks bordering our scenic highways, others have defended the venerable trees from the ravages of modernity. The moss-draped canopy they provide isn’t just picturesque; it’s the manifestation of an ancient law rooted in protecting travelers from highway robbers in Medieval England.

  • The Genesis of the Harleston Neighborhood, 1672-1770

    The area called Harleston Village is one of the oldest neighborhoods on the Charleston peninsula, but the present definition of its boundaries differs from its original identity. From colonial grant to bucolic pasture to profitable subdivision, Harleston was annexed into urban Charleston in 1770 and evolved into a desirable address, though it was never technically a village.

  • The Historical Landscape of the New Baxter-Patrick James Island Library

    Charleston’s newest library is nestled in a quiet setting that belies the depth and drama of its long history. From Native-American stomping grounds to fertile plantation, from bloody battlefield, to civil rights success, today we’ll surf through the pages of the past to follow a rich narrative that forms an important part our community’s shared history.

  • A Veteran’s Story: Caring for the Family of Sergeant William Jasper

    Veterans Day is a holiday created in the twentieth century, but its roots date back to the dawn of the United States. Today we’ll use the story of one veteran’s family—the wife and children of the famous Sergeant William Jasper—to trace the evolution of local, state, and national efforts to assist the survivors our nation’s brave defenders.

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Don't know how to get a podcast? Let us help! 

Think of a podcast as a radio show that you can get on the internet and listen to, pause, restart, and skip through anytime you want. You have a couple options: You can listen to a podcast through a website like CCPL's, which is called streaming; or you can download the podcast, which means it is saved to your phone, tablet, or computer so you can listen to it anytime -- even without an internet connection. 

To stream the Charleston Time Machine: Visit the Time Machine page and either choose an episode from the player above or choose which story you want to know more about. In each story we embed a player of that episode so you can listen as you read. 

To download: Use an app and it will be delivered each week to your phone, tablet, or computer. You'll get a fresh Time Machine podcast every Friday afternoon! We offer downloads through services you may have heard of before: Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and Tune In. Just click on the icon above of the service you want to use and click the subscribe button. It's that easy! 

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