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

  • Representing Charleston at the 1926 National “Charleston” Contest

    Two young dancers from Charleston went to Chicago in 1926 to compete in the first national “Charleston” contest. Their steps were judged the most graceful and refined, but they were overshadowed by more acrobatic interpretations of the popular dance. Nevertheless, the mayor and the local business community deemed the venture a marketing triumph for the city.

  • Who Were the Best “Charlestoners” in Jazz-Age Charleston?

    The “Charleston” was a national sensation in 1925, while critics in this city rebuked its charms. The prospect of a national dance contest, generating a bounty of advertising, finally convinced local leaders to embrace it. A series of contests in early 1926 determined the city’s best white dancers, who raced to Chicago with the mayor to receive a royal welcome.

  • Bee Jackson Wanted to “Charleston” in Charleston in 1925

    Bee Jackson was a professional dancer in the 1920s who promoted herself as the “originator” of the “Charleston.” To bolster her claims, she sought validation from the source of the dance. But Charleston were “Charleston” shy in 1925, and Bee’s request for the keys to the city sparked a debate about the economic value of the popular dance craze.

  • Tracing the Roots of the “Charleston” Dance

    The world-famous “Charleston” tune and dance arose from the melting pot of New York City in the 1920s and became an enduring icon of the exuberant Jazz Age. We might not have invented the “Charleston” in Charleston, but evidence suggests that Lowcountry residents provided the inspiration and key elements that define its iconic rhythm and footwork.

  • John Laurens and Hamilton: A Closer Look

    Hamilton has hit the small screen with Disney+ and everyone is talking about the American history musical. So let's go back and take a look at the complete story. Was it accurate, was it fair, and wasn’t it just so cool?
    John Laurens and Hamilton: A Closer Look Part 1
    John Laurens and Hamilton: A Closer Look Part 2
    John Laurens and Hamilton: A Closer Look Part 3

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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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