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

  • Charleston’s Defensive Strategy of 1703

    The declaration of war between England and Spain in 1702 provoked anxiety in South Carolina about the security of Charleston. The capital's waterfront fortifications provided some protection against invasion, but the rest of the town was undefended. After an offensive expedition failed to capture Spanish St. Augustine, the provincial government elected to build an earthen wall and moat around Charleston’s urban core.

  • The First People of the South Carolina Lowcountry

    In the decades after the founding of Charleston in 1670, more than a dozen tribes of indigenous people across the Lowcountry interacted with the growing population of White settlers and enslaved Africans. Disease, warfare, and displacement gradually reduced their numbers, however, and the first people of the Lowcountry were virtually extinct by the middle of the eighteenth century.

  • Wielding the Sword of State in Early South Carolina

    For more than three centuries, the government of South Carolina has used a ceremonial sword to represent the state’s military strength and civil authority. The original “sword of state” disappeared from the state house in 1941, however, and its theft is now a cold case of historical proportions.

  • Reviving Apparently Dead Bodies in 1790s Charleston

    A Charleston law of 1793 required the proprietors of pubs and barrooms to assist physicians attempting to revive the bodies of “apparently dead” persons lingering in a state of “suspended animation.” This medical endeavor, based on cutting-edge science of the day, involved procedures both ghoulish and comical that blazed a path towards the modern techniques of resuscitation.

  • Educating Antebellum Tradesmen: The Charleston Apprentices’ Library Society

    The Apprentices’ Library Society, founded in 1824, sought to enhance the education of Charleston youths by providing reading material to teenagers studying traditional handicrafts, but its educational mission expanded to include programs and classes. Although fire wrecked the society’s fortunes in 1861 and it dissolved in 1874, this forgotten institution pointed towards the future libraries of Charleston that we recognize today.

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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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