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

  • Freedom Won and Lost: The Story of Catherine in Antebellum Charleston, Part 2

    Catherine was cheated out of freedom by an unscrupulous master, but she boldly asserted her independence and found an attorney to lobby for her emancipation. While they petitioned for justice, Catherine’s predicament was confounded by unresponsive litigants and the shifting sands of statute law. Legal manumission remained elusive, but she gained a measure of freedom in her later years.

  • Freedom Won and Lost: The Story of Catherine in Antebellum Charleston, Part 1

    In the early 1800s, a trio of French Charlestonians agreed to allow an enslaved woman named Catherine to purchase her own freedom. After laboring for many months, Catherine amassed the required sum and paid her master, Antoine Plumet. Rather than setting her free, Plumet defrauded Catherine and died without honoring their bargain. Undeterred, Catherine asserted her freedom until the law intervened.

  • Doctor Caesar and His Antidote for Poison in 1750

    In 1750, the South Carolina legislature emancipated an enslaved man known as Doctor Caesar for sharing his secret antidote for poisons and snakebites, prepared from a combination of familiar plants. This simple decoction earned Doctor Caesar immortal fame, but it also provided a modicum of comfort during his final years and benefitted his family members who remained enslaved.

  • 'An Undeniable Possession of Talent': James Henry Conyers of Charleston

    In 1872, James Henry Conyers became the first man of color to enter the U.S. Naval Academy. Although he spent the majority of his life in Charleston, few here remember his legacy. In this episode we’ll trace the arc of his biography and try to place his family and his education within the broader context of our community’s past.

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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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