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 Green Book for Charleston, 1938-1966

    The Oscar buzz surrounding the 2018 film, Green Book, has generated a lot of interest in the publication that inspired the name of the movie. Charleston isn’t part of the film’s 1962 storyline, but our community was definitely included in that eponymous African-American travel guide. Today we’ll investigate the history of the Green Book phenomenon and examine just how accurately mid-twentieth-century Charleston was represented in that long-running publication.

  • Abraham the Unstoppable, Part 2

    Abraham was an obscure, enslaved witness to the escalating tensions between Anglo-American forces in South Carolina and the Cherokee people who lived far to the west of their settlements. When misguided diplomacy triggered the outbreak of frontier warfare in 1760, the promise of freedom drew Abraham into the spotlight and set him on an adventure from which other men had cowered in fear.

  • Abraham the Unstoppable, Part 1

    Today I’d like to introduce you to Abraham the Unstoppable, the true adventure story of an enslaved man of African descent who won his freedom during the Anglo-Cherokee War of 1759–61. Today we’ll explore the background of that unfamiliar war and learn about the world in which Abraham lived, and then we’ll follow the train of events that launched this enslaved man on an epic journey towards freedom.

  • Commemorating the African-ness of Charleston’s History

    The 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in 1619 Virginia provides an opportunity for reflection. In today’s episode, we’ll situate this anniversary in a broader perspective and connect it to the history of Charleston’s own African arrivals. Facts and figures form a big part of this story, but language and thread-pulling are also important to the ongoing conversation about the Africanness of the South Carolina Lowcountry.

  • The Earliest Fortifications at Oyster Point

    Charleston was once a heavily heavily-fortified town, enclosed by defensive works that accumulated over successive eras of warfare with our enemy neighbors. The campaign to fortify Charleston commenced early in the town’s history, but precisely how early is unclear. Today we’ll focus on the earliest years and ask—how prepared were Charlestonians of the 1680s to defend their homes? The answer just might surprise you.

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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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