NPR: 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.



Thu April 23, 2015
NPR History Dept.

7 Lost American Slang Words

Originally published on Sun April 26, 2015 7:13 am

In the Roaring '20s, flappers were dancing and slang was advancing.
Library of Congress

In American English, some slang words come and go. And some stay and stay.

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Fri April 17, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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Fri April 10, 2015
NPR History Dept.

Defeating Polio, The Disease That Paralyzed America

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

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.

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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Tue April 7, 2015
NPR History Dept.

When Wearing Shorts Was Taboo

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

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

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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Thu April 2, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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Tue March 31, 2015
NPR History Dept.

Media Mischief On April Fools' Day

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

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

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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Thu March 26, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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Tue March 24, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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Thu March 19, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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Tue March 17, 2015
NPR History Dept.

7 Creative Wedding Ideas From History

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

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

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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Fri March 13, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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

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

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965.

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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Tue March 10, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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

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

Roy Colmer New York Public Library

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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Tue March 3, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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Thu February 26, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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Tue February 24, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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Tue February 3, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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Thu January 29, 2015
NPR History Dept.

'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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Tue January 27, 2015
NPR History Dept.

Gamesmanship Or Cheating: A History Quiz

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

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

"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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Tue January 20, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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Wed December 31, 2014
The Protojournalist

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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Wed December 24, 2014
The Protojournalist

A Very Native American Christmas

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

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

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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Wed December 10, 2014
The Protojournalist

Begun The Christmas Tree War Has

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

Artificial Christmas tree.

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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Fri December 5, 2014
The Protojournalist

The Fine Art Of Deception

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

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

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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Thu November 27, 2014
The Protojournalist

Wacky Wrestlers Of Yesteryear

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

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

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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Sun November 23, 2014
The Protojournalist

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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Tue November 18, 2014
The Protojournalist

Who Won The Civil War? Tough Question

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

History quiz: Students on campus.

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

Now it's not so funny anymore.

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Sat November 15, 2014
The Protojournalist

The Wondrous World Of Tom Thumb Weddings

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

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

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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Thu November 13, 2014
The Protojournalist

8 Epic Eating Contests In American History

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

Pie eating contest in 1921.
Library of Congress

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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Wed November 5, 2014
The Protojournalist

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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Wed October 29, 2014
The Protojournalist

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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