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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Literature
11:03 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Do We Really Need Libraries?

Bedford Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library — a gift from Andrew Carnegie, 1905.
New York Public Library

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 2:02 pm

In New York City, supporters of public libraries say that respect for — and repair of — the libraries is long, well, overdue.

A new campaign, Invest in Libraries, puts forth that in the past 10 years, the city government has reduced funding for public libraries by nearly 20 percent and 1,000 workers or so have been trimmed from the payroll. The campaign calls on the city to increase its support in various ways, such as restoring $65 million in operating funds.

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NPR History Dept.
11:42 am
Thu April 30, 2015

A Forgotten Tradition: May Basket Day

First lady Eleanor Roosevelt receives a May basket of flowers from young children in 1938.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 9:42 am

Maybe there really was a time when America was more innocent.

Back when May Basket Day was a thing, perhaps.

The curious custom — still practiced in discrete pockets of the country — went something like this: As the month of April rolled to an end, people would begin gathering flowers and candies and other goodies to put in May baskets to hang on the doors of friends, neighbors and loved ones on May 1.

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NPR History Dept.
11:43 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Nazi Summer Camps In 1930s America?

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 5:56 pm

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NPR History Dept.
11:36 am
Thu April 23, 2015

7 Lost American Slang Words

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

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

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

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

Addiction In American History: 14 Vivid Graphs

Addiction.
Recovery.org

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.
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.
Bettmann/CORBIS

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.
AP

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.
AP

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

iStockphoto

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.
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.
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.
11:18 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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Arts + Life
11:09 am
Tue February 17, 2015

An Ancestor Of YouTube, Selfies And Vines

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

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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Arts + Life
8:00 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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