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 Scandalous Black Dance of 1795, Part 2

    Charlestonians were shocked to find a local magistrate at the center of an illegal black dance raided by police in 1795. William Cunnington defended his honor by publishing a narrative of the soirée, but historians have misinterpreted this intriguing story. Forgotten for more than two centuries, Cunnington’s text provides a valuable and entertaining glimpse of life in early Charleston.

  • The Scandalous Black Dance of 1795, Part 1

    The sounds of an illegal nocturnal “negro dance” in an East Bay residence in November 1795 aroused the wrath of local authorities who dispersed a party of mixed-race revelers. Meanwhile, a respected white citizen at the center of this merry scene was vilified by his neighbors and a shade of scandal still looms over his reputation today.

  • Pandemic and Panic: Influenza in 1918 Charleston

    Under the shadow of the Great War in 1918, Charleston was ill-equipped to counter a major health crisis when influenza spread throughout the community in a wave of acute sickness and death. Quarantine, isolation, and volunteer efforts soon arrested the disease, however, and the city rebounded from its first modern epidemic with a lamentable but limited death toll.

  • Yamboo: An Enslaved Muslim in Early South Carolina

    Yamboo was an African Muslim whose faith helped him endure a life of servitude in 18th-century South Carolina. His brief autobiography, published in 1790, provides valuable evidence of Islam among this region’s enslaved population as well a rare narrative of the journey from Africa and his struggle for survival and dignity in the face of oppression.

  • His Majesty’s Warships in Charleston Harbor

    Between 1720 and 1775, a succession of British warships anchored in Charleston to protect the port’s valuable trade and to assist His Majesty’s government. Their presence forms a significant part of South Carolina’s maritime history that is not well remembered on these shores. Today we’ll jog the collective memory with an overview of this important nautical topic.

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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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