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Storytelling Podcasts

Dr. Nic Butler, historian at the Charleston County Public Library, explores the less familiar corners of local history with stories designed to educate, entertain, and inspire audiences to reflect on the enduring presence of the past in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Dr. Nic Butler, historian at the Charleston County Public Library, explores the less familiar corners of local history with stories designed to educate, entertain, and inspire audiences to reflect on the enduring presence of the past in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.


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Dr. Nic Butler, historian at the Charleston County Public Library, explores the less familiar corners of local history with stories designed to educate, entertain, and inspire audiences to reflect on the enduring presence of the past in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.




Episode 176: South Carolina’s War Against Beasts of Prey, 1693–1790

To secure the natural landscape for colonial settlement, South Carolina’s early government offered bounty money to white, black, and Native American hunters for destroying “beasts of prey” that menaced settlers, crops, and livestock. Commencing in the coastal Lowcountry in 1693 and spreading westward to the Piedmont, bounty hunters pursued panthers, wolves, bears, and bobcats to extirpation by 1790.


Episode 175: Recall Their Names: The Personal Identity of Enslaved South Carolinians

The records of early South Carolina contain thousands of personal names applied to many generations of people held in legal bondage. By sampling this body of names, we detect trends and evidence of resistance that help us understand their experiences and acknowledge the personal identities of the men and women who once formed the state’s enslaved majority. More:


Episode 174: Nicholas Trott’s Forgotten Charleston Residence

The house of Nicholas Trott, one of the most important figures in colonial South Carolina, disappeared more than two centuries ago, but its former site is now part of a popular venue. The discovery of a trash pit in what was once Trott’s back yard unearthed curious artifacts that provide a new window into the narrative of early Charleston.


Episode 173: The Myth of “Trott’s Cottage”

Did South Carolina's cantankerous Chief Justice Nicholas Trott (1663–1740) really live in a small house on the south side of Cumberland Street, or is there some flaw in this popular tale? The definitive answer lies buried in the archival record, where we find the details of a romantic story spanning 300 years.


Episode 172: The Advent of Black Suffrage in South Carolina

The roots of voter discrimination in South Carolina are embedded in colonial-era traditions of exclusion that continued through the Civil War. The long campaign to establish the right for black men to vote in the Palmetto State finally succeeded in 1867, but that seminal event sparked a racially-charged backlash that reverberated through the generations to the present.


Episode 171: A Trashy History of Charleston’s Dumps and Incinerators

The City of Charleston addressed rising volumes of garbage in the early 20th century with traditional methods of open dumping and the new science of incineration. The advent of new landfill practices in the 1950s ended municipal trash burning, but creative recycling preserved one historic structure and smokestacks that anchor an important part of the city’s trashy history.


Episode 170: Bee Jackson’s 1926 Visit to Charleston: Behind the Scenes

Professional dancer Bee Jackson’s brief sojourn to Charleston in April 1926 was immortalized on film, but the motivation behind her visit is less visible. She didn’t come here to work, nor was she paid for dancing at private parties and outdoor photo shoots. So why did Bee take a detour from her lucrative international career to do the “Charleston” in Charleston?


Episode 169: 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.


Episode 168: 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.


Episode 167: 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.


Episode 166: 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.


Episode 165: Remembering Charleston’s Liberty Tree, Part 2

After citizens planned rebellion and celebrated independence beneath Charleston’s Liberty Tree, British soldiers tried to obliterate its legacy. Some sons of the Revolution never forgot its symbolic role, and preserved memories of the tree throughout the nineteenth century. Thanks to their trail of clues, we can reconstruct a path to the site of the tree that once symbolized resistance against injustice.


Episode 164: Remembering Charleston’s Liberty Tree, Part 1

Charleston’s Liberty Tree is an important part of the story of the American Revolution in South Carolina. From the earliest protests over taxation in the 1760s to the British siege of 1780, it served as a venue for political debates and patriotic celebrations. Today we’ll examine the roots of its symbolic meaning and its role in the journey to independence.


Episode 163: Juneteenth, Febteenth, and Emancipation Day in Charleston

Commemorating the end of slavery has been an annual tradition across the United States since the end of the Civil War, but there is no single date of observance. Whether one celebrates “Juneteenth” or some other “Emancipation Day” is largely a matter of geography. Today we’ll explore the history of emancipation and focus on the story of Charleston’s own celebratory traditions.


Episode 162: The Rise of Charleston’s Horn Work, Part 2

Scores of laborers transformed tons of oyster shells into a towering concrete barrier to protect the town’s northern boundary in the late 1750s, but the changing tide of world events convinced local authorities to abandon the Horn Work before its completion. This turbulent genesis forms a long-forgotten prelude to the gallant defense of South Carolina’s capital during the American Revolution.


Episode 161: The Rise of Charleston’s Horn Work, Part 1

The story of the tabby fort that became an American citadel during the British siege of 1780 commenced decades before the Revolution. It arose from efforts to protect Charleston’s backside, and superseded earlier works. Prompted by a new war with France in 1756, local officials and royal engineers ordered the construction of new fortifications that transformed the Lowcountry landscape.


Episode 160: The Horn Work: Marion Square’s Tabby Fortress

Have you heard the story of the Horn Work in Marion Square? You know—that mysterious, unobtrusive, lumpy slab of concrete covered with oyster shells standing in the park near King Street? Did you know it’s actually a tiny remnant of a massive fortress that once controlled access to colonial-era Charleston? And it was the city’s first citadel during the American Revolution? The Horn Work is one of Charleston’s biggest secrets hiding in plain sight, and today we’ll review the most salient...


Episode 159: Hucksters’ Paradise: Mobile Food in Urban Charleston, Part 2

The “golden age” of huckstering food in the streets of Charleston dawned after the Civil War, when formerly-enslaved people expanded this popular form of marketing. Urban hucksters became nostalgic characters in an increasingly romanticized version of local history in the twentieth century, but they never really completely disappeared and their legacy continues to the present.


Episode 158: Hucksters’ Paradise: Mobile Food in Urban Charleston, Part 1

Mobile hucksters, predominantly of African descent, formed an important part of the local culinary market from the earliest days of Charleston by carrying food around the city in baskets and carts. To trace their enduring influence on local culture and commerce, we’ll wind our time machine back to the roots of the hucksters and chart their rise into Antebellum days.


Episode 157: Dining and Drinking in Charleston Before the Food and Beverage Industry

While most of the food and beverage industry is currently shuttered, we can look to our past in search of forgotten service models that might offer fresh inspiration for future business. The variety of food retail options in early Charleston is so diverse that we’ll begin this culinary history with a starter course of bite-sized samples of the big picture.