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

  • The Story behind Ropemaker’s Lane

    Ropemaker’s Lane is a place name in Charleston that evokes images of antique men twisting long fibers into useful objects. That scenario is accurate, but it represents one facet of the site’s long history. To gain a fuller picture of its development over the past three centuries, lets reach back to the town’s early days and meet the people who created the lane and inspired its present name.

  • Charleston: The Palmetto City

    The City of Charleston, in my opinion, needs an official nickname, and perhaps even an official symbol. There are a few contenders out there, ranging from cheeky epithets to marketing slogans, but I think there's only one real option. Rather than inventing something new, or adopting something with a murky historical pedigree, I propose that we embrace Charleston's original nickname, which endured for more than a century: "The Palmetto City."

  • Antebellum Charleston’s Most Vulnerable: Foundlings at the Akin Hospital

    Charleston’s history is filled with stories that have a bright side and a not-so-bright side, and both aspects deserve to be told. Consider, for example, the story of Eliza Akin’s 1842 bequest to the city, which was intended to establish an institution to shelter the abandoned newborns of Charleston. Despite Miss Akin’s best intentions, the official politics of discrimination succeeded in stunting her benevolent design and failing those most in need.

  • The Golden Christmas of 1852

    If you’ve ever wondered what Christmas was like on a Lowcountry plantation in Antebellum times, William Gilmore Simms has the answers. His 1852 novella, The Golden Christmas, is a sunny take of romance and comedy that floats carelessly above the thinly-veiled darkness of slavery. Today we’ll take a quick overview of its author, its storyline, and its fatal flaws, and then sample a bite-sized portion of this holiday story.

  • The Pirate Executions of 1718

    The mass execution of 49 pirates in Charleston in 1718 is described in historical documents with a frustrating paucity of details. Despite the drama and trauma associated with this event, an air of mystery still hangs over the precise location of the pirates’ last stand. Today we’ll look closely at the local historical evidence and examine the larger legal framework that dictated the demise of so many pirate brethren.

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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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