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

  • Indigo in the Fabric of Early South Carolina

    Indigo forms an important part of the early history of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Although its memory flourishes today, lingering misconceptions have distorted our general understanding of the story. In an effort to help “grow” this colorful conversation, I’ve crafted a series of questions and responses that address some points of indigo history that every Charlestonian should know.

  • The Evolution of Charleston’s Name

    For the anniversary of the incorporation of Charleston, let’s take a close look at the legal document that defined the new municipality. Our focus isn’t politics, but spelling: The city’s 1783 charter shortened its name from “Charles Town,” and the surviving manuscript contains a curious spelling that provides new insight in the evolution of the familiar name “Charleston.”

  • The Charleston Baseball Riots of 1869, Part 2

    Reeling from embarrassment after rioting spoiled an afternoon of baseball on Citadel Green, the divided people of Charleston anxiously prepared for a rematch against the Savannah Base Ball Club in August of 1869. The mayor’s show of force inflamed simmering tensions, and boiling frustration led to gunfire while the people hoped in vain for a quiet weekend of sport.

  • The Charleston Baseball Riots of 1869, Part 1

    Baseball was a novelty in the summer of 1869. Charlestonians had only recently embraced the game, which provided a relaxing way to escape the city’s tense political climate. When sport, music, and racial politics collided on Citadel Green on July 26th, the pastime erupted into a violent clash that spilled into the streets and threatened to overwhelm the rule of law.

  • The Velocipede Invasion of 1869

    In the early months of 1869, the people of Charleston swooned rapturously over the arrival of the latest mechanical sensation called the velocipede, a precursor to the modern bicycle. Having embraced the new machine in mid-February, the city’s initial enthusiasm for the velocipede was overshadowed several months later by another fad that went on to spoil everyone’s summer fun.

  • Policing Charleston during Queen Anne’s War, 1702-1713

    In a short span of time during an international war, the S.C. legislature enacted a succession of laws related to the policing of urban Charleston. It was a confusing period of law enforcement experimentation during a crucial era in the town’s history, in which the colony first achieved a black majority, and produced the earliest evidence of enslaved drummers in Charleston.

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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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