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

  • Remembering Charleston’s Liberty Tree, Part 2

    After citizens planned rebellion and celebrated independence beneath Charleston’s Liberty Tree, British soldiers tried to obliterate its legacy. Some sons of the Revolution never forgot its symbolic role, and preserved memories of the tree throughout the nineteenth century. Thanks to their trail of clues, we can reconstruct a path to the site of the tree that once symbolized resistance against injustice.

  • Remembering Charleston’s Liberty Tree, Part 1

    Charleston’s Liberty Tree is an important part of the story of the American Revolution in South Carolina. From the earliest protests over taxation in the 1760s to the British siege of 1780, it served as a venue for political debates and patriotic celebrations. Today we’ll examine the roots of its symbolic meaning and its role in the journey to independence.

  • Juneteenth, Febteenth, and Emancipation Day in Charleston

    Commemorating the end of slavery has been an annual tradition across the United States since the end of the Civil War, but there is no single date of observance. Whether one celebrates “Juneteenth” or some other “Emancipation Day” is largely a matter of geography. Today we’ll explore the history of emancipation and focus on the story of Charleston’s own celebratory traditions.

  • The Rise of Charleston’s Horn Work, Part 2

    Scores of laborers transformed tons of oyster shells into a towering concrete barrier to protect the town’s northern boundary in the late 1750s, but the changing tide of world events convinced local authorities to abandon the Horn Work before its completion. This turbulent genesis forms a long-forgotten prelude to the gallant defense of South Carolina’s capital during the American Revolution.

  • The Rise of Charleston’s Horn Work, Part 1

    The story of the tabby fort that became an American citadel during the British siege of 1780 commenced decades before the Revolution. It arose from efforts to protect Charleston’s backside, and superseded earlier works. Prompted by a new war with France in 1756, local officials and royal engineers ordered the construction of new fortifications that transformed the Lowcountry landscape.

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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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