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.
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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NPR History Dept.
11:03 am
Tue February 10, 2015

What If Napoleon Had Come To America?

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 11:44 am

Two hundred years ago this year, in June of 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated at Waterloo by a coalition of countries — including Austria, Prussia, Russia and the United Kingdom. Though he wound up in exile on the remote South Atlantic island of St. Helena, he contemplated escaping to America.

What if Napoleon had come to the New World?

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NPR History Dept.
9:18 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Marathon Mania In American History

Marathon Dance contestants, 1923.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 12:10 pm

Odd that Americans, long known for their short attention spans and — oh, look, a sparkly thing ... are at the same time manic for marathonic undertakings.

Running, for example. A century ago, scores of marathoners competed before huge wintertime crowds in the 1909 Brooklyn Marathon. Flash forward, and this past November, more than 50,000 participants finished the 2014 New York City Marathon. (Applications for nonguaranteed entry in the 2015 race must be in by Feb. 15.)

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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.
8:45 am
Thu January 22, 2015

How Black Smokejumpers Helped Save The American West

Smokejumper Jesse Mayes preparing to jump from a C-47.
U.S. Army Air Force

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 6:01 pm

As part of the back-and-forth attacks of World War II, the Imperial Japanese army launched balloon bombs — silent wind-borne devices designed to wreak havoc on the cities and woodlands of the American West.

The U.S. government discouraged news organizations from reporting on the bombs — which some call the first intercontinental weapons — that successfully landed in North America.

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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
11:23 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
11:46 am
Sat December 20, 2014

Before Google ... Who Knew?

The New York Public Library reading room.
istockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 8:28 am

If Google can't answer your question these days, who you gonna call? A librarian, of course.

Librarians continue to be cool. On a contemporary TNT series, The Librarians are super heroes. For the past couple of years, "librarian" has popped up on the Forbes list of Least Stressful Jobs. And even in this Age of the Search Engine, librarians keep making new discoveries.

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The Protojournalist
11:19 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Speed Dating In The 19th Century

New Year's Calling card for a group of gentlemen in 1877.
Courtesy of McLean County Museum of History

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 2:46 pm

Long before there were online dating sites, such as eHarmony, Match or OKCupid, there was a curious offline custom in America known as New Year's Calling.

In the 19th century, young single women in New York City; Washington, D.C., and other cities and towns across the country would hold open houses on Jan. 1 and invite eligible bachelors — friends and strangers — to stop by for a brief visit and some light refreshments.

Often the women posted ads — which included their names, addresses and visiting hours — in the local newspaper. This was communitywide speed dating.

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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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