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

  • Planning Charleston’s First “Fortress,” 1695–1696

    The earliest surviving legislative discussion of fortifications in urban Charleston took place in 1695–96, motivated by an ongoing war with France and a persistent fear of marauding pirates. The provincial government’s plan to build an expensive brick fortress, flanked by men “arrayd for battle,” forms a significant chapter in the physical evolution of South Carolina’s colonial capital.

  • The Genesis of East Bay Street: Charleston’s First Wharf, 1680–1696

    Charleston’s historic East Bay Street began in the 1680s as a public wharf or quay adjacent to the tidal mudflats of the Cooper River. To improve the logistics of maritime commerce and to protect the adjacent buildings, South Carolina’s provincial government initiated a public-private partnership that triggered the evolution of the broad waterfront landscape we see today.

  • Charleston’s Contested Election of 1868

    What happens when politicians refuse to concede defeat and won’t leave office? During a period of smoldering racial and political tensions in post-Civil War Charleston, the city’s incumbent mayor and aldermen created a six-month legal soap opera by repeatedly refusing to heed the results of a municipal election and ignoring court orders to vacate their offices.

  • The Decline of Voting Suppression in South Carolina, 1900–1965

    In early twentieth-century South Carolina, conservative White men manipulated the state’s legal framework to silence dissenting voices. The national campaign to dismantle barriers to Black suffrage gained steam in the 1930s and gradually undermined local traditions of White supremacy. Before the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s, a series of legislative changes unlocked the door to Black voting.

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Listen to the Podcast

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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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