Linton Weeks

Linton Weeks joined NPR in the summer of 2008, as its national correspondent for Digital News. He immediately hit the campaign trail, covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; fact-checking the debates; and exploring the candidates, the issues and the electorate.

Weeks is originally from Tennessee, and graduated from Rhodes College in 1976. He was the founding editor of Southern Magazine in 1986. The magazine was bought — and crushed — in 1989 by Time-Warner. In 1990, he was named managing editor of The Washington Post's Sunday magazine. Four years later, he became the first director of the newspaper's website, Washingtonpost.com. From 1995 until 2008, he was a staff writer in the Style section of The Washington Post.

He currently lives in a suburb of Washington with the artist Jan Taylor Weeks. In 2009, they created The Stone and Holt Weeks Foundation to honor their beloved sons.

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NPR History Dept.
4:15 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Media Mischief On April Fools' Day

Mickey Mantle was the subject of a newspaper hoax in 1961. Here he is that year taking practice swings at Yankee Stadium.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

In the annals of journalism, there is a long tradition of newsfolks — reporters, writers, broadcasters — pulling April Fools' Day tricks on readers and listeners. Sometimes the prank prevails; sometimes it fails.

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NPR History Dept.
11:48 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Board Games That Bored Gamers

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 2:29 pm

Gaming is a way of life for Americans of all ages.

We play games on Facebook, on our phones, on phantasmagorical home systems. We play on fields and courts and dining room tables. Contemporary culture mavens speak of the gamification of education and the workplace and our day-to-day communications.

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NPR History Dept.
10:18 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Old-Timey Slang: 'Polking' Was A Vulgar Word

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 1:48 pm

"All slang words are detestable from the lips of ladies," Eliza Leslie said in 1867. She was the author of the Behavior Book, a 19th century etiquette manual published in Philadelphia.

How times have changed. Men and women in contemporary America sling slang around like hash — or like weed. From txt msgs to the Twitterverse, the jargon can be jarring.

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NPR History Dept.
9:23 am
Thu March 19, 2015

When The KKK Was Mainstream

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 1:44 pm

Recently I tumbled on this story from Kansas Humanities — and an earlier post from Only A Game — about a 1925 baseball game between Wichita's African-American team, the Monrovians, and the Ku Klux Klan.

Wait a minute. The Ku Klux Klan once had a baseball team?

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NPR History Dept.
12:23 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

7 Creative Wedding Ideas From History

Grant and Amanda Engler celebrate in jet packs at their wedding ceremony in 2012 in Newport Beach, Calif.
Lenny Ignelzi Associated Press

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 12:43 pm

Wedding websites today are aswirl with inventive suggestions, including 10 Unique Wedding Venues from Burnett's Boards; 23 Unconventional But Awesome Wedding Ideas from Buzzfeed and 21 Most Unique Ceremony Ideas from Emmaline Bride.

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NPR History Dept.
9:41 am
Fri March 13, 2015

A King Speech You've Never Heard — Plus, Your Chance To Do Archive Sleuthing

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965.
AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 9:54 am

Historically speaking, I need your help.

Davis Houck, a communications professor at Florida State University, recently pointed me toward a little-explored archive at Stanford University called Project South.

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NPR History Dept.
10:48 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Who Takes 3,000 Photos Of NYC's Doors?

Roy Colmer New York Public Library

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 1:24 pm

Street View: New York City's Doors: A Special Research Project of NPR History Dept.

A door is for closing. And for opening.

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NPR History Dept.
11:18 am
Tue March 3, 2015

The Secret History Of Knock-Knock Jokes

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 7:54 pm

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Joe King.

Joe King who?

Joking like this used to be considered a sickness by some people.

The knock-knock joke has been a staple of American humor since the early 20th century. With its repetitive set-up and wordplay punchline, the form has been invoked — and understood — by people of all ages and sensibilities.

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NPR History Dept.
11:26 am
Thu February 26, 2015

How Black Abolitionists Changed A Nation

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 4:52 pm

This year we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution — abolishing slavery. So it's worth pointing out that the emancipation movement in 19th century America was pushed forward by many different forces: enlightened lawmakers, determined liberators of captive slaves and outspoken abolitionists — including an influential number who were black.

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NPR History Dept.
10:33 am
Tue February 24, 2015

The Courage And Ingenuity Of Freedom-Seeking Slaves In America

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 1:17 pm

In the opening of his new book, Gateway To Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad, Eric Foner lays out the inspirational story of Frederick Bailey — a young slave in Maryland who teaches himself to read and write; plans to escape slavery by canoe, but gets caught; boards a train wearing seaman's clothes and carrying false papers; and after several unsettling detours — and despite the fact that slave catchers are everywhere — arrives in the free state of New York.

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NPR History Dept.
11:12 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Reviving The Lost Art Of Logrolling

Catherine Gauthier and Bette Berkeley, who at 17 won a 1939 national women's logrolling title in Longview, Wash.
Courtesy of Forest History Society

Considered by many to be the sole purview of lumberjacks, the competitive sport of logrolling — in which participants pad about on a log in water and try to outlast one another — is hoping for new growth.

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NPR History Dept.
6:15 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

'Female Husbands' In The 19th Century

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 9:53 am

Questions of gender identity are nothing new. Way before Transparent and Chaz Bono and countless other popular culture stepping stones to where we are now regarding gender identity, there were accounts of "female husbands."

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NPR History Dept.
9:03 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Gamesmanship Or Cheating: A History Quiz

Official game balls for this year's Super Bowl sit in a bin before being laced and inflated at the Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in Ada, Ohio.
Rick Osentoski AP

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 2:18 pm

"The line between cheating and gamesmanship is constantly blurred," observes The New York Times in a recent story. The Times, and just about everyone else, is talking about the perhaps-tampering-with-gameballs allegations levied against the New England Patriots — specifically coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

Both Belichick and Brady have denied any wrongdoing.

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NPR History Dept.
8:00 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Beware Of Japanese Balloon Bombs

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 1:21 pm

Those who forget the past are liable to trip over it.

Just a few months ago a couple of forestry workers in Lumby, British Columbia — about 250 miles north of the U.S. border — happened upon a 70-year-old Japanese balloon bomb.

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The Protojournalist
11:13 am
Wed December 31, 2014

10 Final Thoughts Of The Protojournalist

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 3:02 pm

1) Change is constant. After a year and a half and more than 250 posts, The Protojournalist storytelling project has reached its finish line. This will be the last Protojournalist post — under my aegis.

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The Protojournalist
11:57 am
Wed December 24, 2014

A Very Native American Christmas

A Native American family gathers around a Christmas tree in Montana, ca. 1900-1920.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 12:28 pm

With the spread of Christianity among some Native Americans in the early 20th century came certain Christmas rituals — trees and presents and jolly old Santa Claus — that were folded into traditional wintertime celebrations.

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The Protojournalist
11:15 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Begun The Christmas Tree War Has

Artificial Christmas tree.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 2:03 pm

When it comes to Christmas trees, which kind of symbol do you prefer — real or artificial? In recent stat-studded news stories, Americans seem to be conflicted, but leaning toward artificiality.

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The Protojournalist
11:13 am
Fri December 5, 2014

The Fine Art Of Deception

An anamorphic installation portrait of Malian actor Sotigui Kouyate by French artist Bernard Pras.
From YouTube

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 8:26 pm

Fooling the eye — with trick-niques like anamorphic sculpture, trompe l'oeil paintings and other optical illusions — is a centuries-old artistic pursuit.

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The Protojournalist
11:13 am
Thu November 27, 2014

Wacky Wrestlers Of Yesteryear

Two men wrestle in a ring full of smelt during the Smelt Carnival in Marinette, Wis., in 1939.
Wisconsin Historical Society

Originally published on Fri November 28, 2014 4:37 am

Hoodslam — a popular spectacle that is staged monthly in Oakland, Calif. — is described by the San Francisco Chronicle as "part wrestling show, part carnival act and all comedy."

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The Protojournalist
5:51 am
Sun November 23, 2014

When Thanksgiving Was Weird

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 10:05 am

Oddest thing: Thanksgiving in turn-of-the-20th century America used to look a heckuva lot like Halloween.

People — young and old — got all dressed up and staged costumed crawls through the streets. In Los Angeles, Chicago and other places around the country, newspapers ran stories of folks wearing elaborate masks and cloth veils. Thanksgiving mask balls were held in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Montesano, Wash., and points in between.

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The Protojournalist
11:13 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Who Won The Civil War? Tough Question

History quiz: Students on campus.
YouTube

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 9:41 pm

The old joke used to be: Who is buried in Grant's tomb?

Now it's not so funny anymore.

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The Protojournalist
11:13 am
Sat November 15, 2014

The Wondrous World Of Tom Thumb Weddings

Alex George and Lilliana Bremerkamp pretend to get married in a 2008 Tom Thumb wedding.
Robert LaRouche Courtesy of Holly Bremerkamp

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 9:20 am

When the "bride" and "groom" walk down the aisle in a Tom Thumb Wedding — as they did just a few weeks ago at the Fellowship Baptist Church on Staten Island in New York — they are:

1) Often not much taller than the backs of the church pews.

2) Paying homage to a pair of 19th century celebrities.

3) Acting out an American ritual with roots stretching back more than 150 years.

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The Protojournalist
11:13 am
Thu November 13, 2014

8 Epic Eating Contests In American History

Pie eating contest in 1921.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 2:51 pm

As America enters the holiday season, chowing down at a crowded table can become a competitive experience. What was once confined to friendly wagers has blossomed into a full-blown industry.

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The Protojournalist
11:16 am
Wed November 5, 2014

The Strange Dating Games Of 1914

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 11:14 am

With a peck of new tech in development, Upstart reports recently, "the dating game may never be the same."

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The Protojournalist
11:15 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Halloween For Adults: A Scary History

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 1:03 pm

For Halloween 2014, the National Retail Federation predicts, some 75 million adults will put on costumes. Reuters is reporting that haunted houses for adults are in demand this year, and some 20 percent of celebrants over the age of 18 plan to visit one.

Are adults adulterating Halloween?

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The Protojournalist
11:13 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Halloween High Jinks For Fun And Nonprofits

Evelyn FitzGerald, 2 months old, is in a Princess Leia — of Star Wars renown — costume made from recycled clothes by her mother Shenandoah Brettell of El Segundo, Calif. "I made the wig out of yarn and the belt out of felt," says Shenandoah, who listens to NPR member station KPCC.
Shenandoah Brettell

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 2:15 pm

Making costumes from secondhand stuff is a part of the Halloween scene in 2014, according to Goodwill. We call it boocycling.

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The Protojournalist
11:15 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Girl Scouts Look For A Way Out Of The Woods

Girl Scouts model contemporary uniforms.
From Girl Scouts of the USA website

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 12:11 pm

The Girl Scouts organization wants s'more — members and leaders, that is.

Membership in Girl Scouts of the USA is on the decline. In the past year, according to the group's official blog, there has been a significant drop nationwide — down 400,000 girls and adults — from 3.2 million to 2.8 million.

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The Protojournalist
11:13 am
Sat October 18, 2014

America's Boo-It-Yourself Halloween Spirit

Pretend to be a pineapple.
Jeff Mindell

Originally published on Sat October 18, 2014 2:39 pm

How about we call it boocycling — putting together an adult's or child's costume using recycled, thrift-store clothing?

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The Protojournalist
11:13 am
Wed October 15, 2014

What Is Really Tearing America Apart

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 11:16 am

What separates Americans the most?

Race ... religion ... gender ...

According to Shanto Iyengar, a political scientist at Stanford University, often the most divisive aspect of contemporary society is: politics.

Divided We Stand

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The Protojournalist
11:16 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Wrong! 3 Recent Reports That May Surprise You

Carlos Caetano istockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 2:13 pm

From the ancient Greek thinker Democritus who reportedly said, "We know nothing really; for truth lies deep down," to the recent problem-solving advice from Entrepreneur, "Assume Everything Is Wrong," we have to constantly be reminded to be skeptical. And that the one thing we do know is that we don't always know what we think we know.

As neophyte reporters are often told: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."

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