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Charleston Time Machine
33 minutes | 5 days ago
Episode 187: Street Auctions and Slave Marts in Antebellum Charleston
Auctions of enslaved people were a familiar sight on the streets of early Charleston until local authorities sought to constrain such spectacles into enclosed “marts” during the second quarter of the 19th century. This commercial change endured into the era of Civil War, but historic documents illustrating this form of human trafficking are not always what they purport to be.
23 minutes | 20 days ago
Episode 185: The Other New Years: Regnal, Civil, and Personal
The beginning of a new calendar year in January is one of a variety of “new year” anniversaries that our forebears observed to mark the advent of a new life, monarch, or entity. The various methods of annual calculations in early South Carolina might seem arcane today, but a familiarity with their underlying concepts can help us better understand the past.
30 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 183: The Destruction and Renewal of Charleston’s Street Trees, 1837–1865
When Charleston sacrificed a forest of street trees in 1837 for the sake of civic improvement, the loss triggered a long debate about the value of various tree species and the role of local government in promoting public health. Before the Civil War, the city selected a specific native, deciduous tree and commenced to renew the lost green canopy.
38 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 179: Charleston’s Contested Election of 1868
What happens when politicians refuse to concede defeat and won’t leave office? During a period of smoldering racial and political tensions in post-Civil War Charleston, the city’s incumbent mayor and aldermen created a six-month legal soap opera by repeatedly refusing to heed the results of a municipal election and ignoring court orders to vacate their offices. https://www.ccpl.org/charleston-time-machine/charlestons-contested-election-1868 #chsnews #chsreads
36 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 178: The Decline of Voting Suppression in South Carolina, 1900–1965
In early twentieth-century South Carolina, conservative White men manipulated the state’s legal framework to silence dissenting voices. The national campaign to dismantle barriers to Black suffrage gained steam in the 1930s and gradually undermined local traditions of White supremacy. Before the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s, a series of legislative changes unlocked the door to Black voting. Read more: https://www.ccpl.org/charleston-time-machine/decline-voting-suppression-south-carolina-1900-1965
31 minutes | 4 months ago
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: https://www.ccpl.org/charleston-time-machine/recall-their-names-personal-identity-enslaved-south-carolinians
34 minutes | 5 months ago
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.
31 minutes | 5 months ago
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?
34 minutes | 6 months ago
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.
26 minutes | 6 months ago
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.
22 minutes | 6 months ago
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.
19 minutes | 6 months ago
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.
35 minutes | 7 months ago
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.
33 minutes | 7 months ago
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.
25 minutes | 7 months ago
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.
29 minutes | 8 months ago
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.
31 minutes | 8 months ago
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.
33 minutes | 8 months ago
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 chapters of its must-read story.
29 minutes | 8 months ago
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.
31 minutes | 8 months ago
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.
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