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 Unmarked Grave of Ellen O’Donovan Rossa

    The death of Ellen O’Donovan Rossa, a poor Irish widow, in Charleston in 1870 might have gone unnoticed by the world, but for the international notoriety of her, incarcerated son, Jeremiah. His reputation inspired local Irishmen to memorialize Rossa’s mother as an expression of respect and solidarity. Their efforts were thwarted by the hands of time, however, as Ellen’s grave remains unmarked today.

  • Abraham the Unstoppable, Part 4

    Stricken with smallpox, Abraham convalesced in Charleston in the late winter of 1760 before embarking on another round-trip journey carrying official messages through the dangerous Cherokee territory. Having witnessed grotesque scenes of death and misery both in town and among the frontier forts, Abraham returned to Charleston to see the wheels of government slowly turning towards the legal confirmation of his freedom from slavery.

  • Abraham the Unstoppable, Part 3

    Today we continue our narrative of the enslaved man Abraham by following his perilous solo trek from the Cherokee mountains of eastern Tennessee to the port of Charleston, with a few pit stops along the way. Promised freedom if he could complete this dangerous mission, Abraham found a provisional reward extended by the governor, and a crowded town wracked by fear and disease in the spring of 1760.

  • 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.

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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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