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, 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.


NPR History Dept.
10:48 am
Mon April 20, 2015

When America Was Crazy About Rock Gardens

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 3:59 pm

In the American West, water is so alarmingly scarce these days that California has imposed restrictions and, as the Sacramento Bee reports, landscapers are planting desert plants and rock gardens.

The drought, Gov. Jerry Brown told USA Today recently, is "unprecedented in recorded history."

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NPR History Dept.
10:44 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Addiction In American History: 14 Vivid Graphs


The language of addiction is always evolving. Maybe we need an addictionary.

For example, when the word "alcohol" was written or spoken in early 19th-century America. it was often used in the chemical and medical sense. This is from an article about drawing out the essence of stramonium, or jimson weed: "The virtues of stramonium," the New England Journal of Medicine reported in January of 1818, "appear to be seated in an extractive principle, which dissolves in water and alcohol."

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NPR History Dept.
11:35 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Lincoln's Private Side: Friend, Poet, Jokester

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 8:23 pm

Struck down by an assassin's bullet 150 years ago Tuesday, President Abraham Lincoln — who faded away in the wee hours of April 15, 1865 — went on to become a multimythologized man.

Biographers describe him as "an exceptional child of unexceptional parents," "self-assertive to the point of arrogance," and ultimately a "political genius."

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NPR History Dept.
10:54 am
Fri April 10, 2015

Defeating Polio, The Disease That Paralyzed America

A nurse prepares children for a polio vaccine shot as part of citywide testing of the vaccine on elementary school students in Pittsburgh in 1954.

Originally published on Sat April 11, 2015 8:57 am

Tens of thousands of Americans — in the first half of the 20th century — were stricken by poliomyelitis. Polio, as it's known, is a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

The hallmarks of the Polio Era were children on crutches and in iron lungs, shuttered swimming pools, theaters warning moviegoers to not sit too close to one another.

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NPR History Dept.
1:57 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

When Wearing Shorts Was Taboo

A golfer wears a long black skirt in mock protest of the USGA ban on golfing shorts in tournament play, 1953.

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 2:52 pm

As the weather warms more and more and people wear less and less, it's sometimes hard for Americans to remember that there are cultures in other parts of the world that enforce severe dress codes.

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NPR History Dept.
11:16 am
Thu April 2, 2015

After Selma, King's March On Ballot Boxes

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking in Kingstree, S.C., as seen in the video clip.
University of South Carolina Archives

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — who was assassinated 47 years ago this week — will long be remembered for the many meaningful marches he led or joined, including ones on Washington in 1963, on Frankfort, Ky., in 1964 and from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965.

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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.

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 9:04 am

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


Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 7:51 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.
12:01 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.
9:03 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.

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.
11:28 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.
11:04 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Amazing Animal Performers Of The Past

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 10:45 am

Inundated by YouTube clips of entertaining animals like the elephant cleaning itself with a broom and Joey the trick ferret, I can't help but think of celebrated animals in America's past: Trigger the horse, the many porpoises named Flipper and, last but not leashed, the superdogs who portrayed

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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.
10:33 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Back Before Children Looked Childish

From Clayton, N.C., circa 1936-1937.
H. Lee Waters Duke University Libraries

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 2:57 pm

Immersed in silent film that depicts everyday folks in rural, 1930s North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, I realized that young people back then looked pretty much the same as the adults ... only smaller.

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NPR History Dept.
8:47 am
Tue February 17, 2015

An Ancestor Of YouTube, Selfies And Vines

From Chapel Hill, N.C., 1939
H. Lee Waters Duke University Libraries

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 11:09 am

Quietly watching historical film of real people doing real things can stir something powerful in us about our collective past. It's like being in a time machine with a big picture window. The images-in-action trigger real and imagined memories.

The moving pictures eerily remind us of where we came from, what those before us looked like and acted like — and appeared to care about — and about how we are all, in the end, the same and yet very different.

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NPR History Dept.
7:30 am
Thu February 12, 2015

How Scams Worked In The 1800s

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 11:18 am

These days we are constantly warned of scams and schemes designed to hoodwink us. The FBI sends out scam alerts from its Internet Crime Center. The Federal Trade Commission cautions against all kinds of fraudulence, from the recent Anthem Hack Attack to IRS impostors.

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