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

  • Nicholas Trott’s Forgotten Charleston Residence

    The house of Nicholas Trott, one of the most important figures in colonial South Carolina, disappeared more than two centuries ago, but its former site is now part of a popular venue. The discovery of a trash pit in what was once Trott’s back yard unearthed curious artifacts that provide a new window into the narrative of early Charleston.

  • The Myth of “Trott’s Cottage”

    Did South Carolina's cantankerous Chief Justice Nicholas Trott (1663–1740) really live in a small house on the south side of Cumberland Street, or is there some flaw in this popular tale? The definitive answer lies buried in the archival record, where we find the details of a romantic story spanning 300 years.

  • The Advent of Black Suffrage in South Carolina

    The roots of voter discrimination in South Carolina are embedded in colonial-era traditions of exclusion that continued through the Civil War. The long campaign to establish the right for black men to vote in the Palmetto State finally succeeded in 1867, but that seminal event sparked a racially-charged backlash that reverberated through the generations to the present.

  • A Trashy History of Charleston’s Dumps and Incinerators

    The City of Charleston addressed rising volumes of garbage in the early 20th century with traditional methods of open dumping and the new science of incineration. The advent of new landfill practices in the 1950s ended municipal trash burning, but creative recycling preserved one historic structure and smokestacks that anchor an important part of the city’s trashy history.

  • What (and Where) is Bee’s Ferry?

    Bees Ferry Road began as a path through the wildness more than three centuries ago, leading to an important crossing point over the Ashley River. Behind the well-known name is the forgotten story of a once-thriving gathering place and the generations of men and women who operated the slow-moving ferry for nearly 160 years.

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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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