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.
9:03 am
Sat July 4, 2015

When America's Librarians Went To War

American Library Association volunteers in Paris Feb. 27, 1919
Courtesy of the University of Illinois Archives

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 12:15 pm

Looking back at the nationwide support for American troops in World Wars I and II, we see Americans of all stripes making patriotic contributions and sacrifices – farmers, factory workers and librarians.

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NPR History Dept.
6:02 pm
Sat June 27, 2015

The Cherry Sisters: Worst Act Ever?

The Cherry Sisters: Three of the siblings strike a theatrical pose.
The History Center

Originally published on Sun June 28, 2015 7:37 am

In the early 20th century, the Cherry Sisters — a family of performers from Marion, Iowa — were like a meme.

Simply invoking the name — the Cherry Sisters — was shorthand for anything awful. As Anthony Slide wrote in the Encyclopedia of Vaudeville, the onstage siblings became "synonymous with any act devoid of talent."

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NPR History Dept.
10:03 am
Tue June 23, 2015

4 Forgotten Fads Of The Past

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 1:55 pm

Unlike fanatics, fad-atics move from craze to craze. And America, with its short national attention span, is the perfect place for fadatics to flourish.

But when does a fad begin to fade? When does a fad become a fixture?

"How long does the typical fad last?" asks Adrian Furnham in the 2004 finance book Management and Myths. "It depends on the zeitgeist." In other words, a vat of variables.

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NPR History Dept.
9:57 am
Fri June 19, 2015

Independence Day For Americans With Disabilities

A detail from an Easter Seals poster explaining the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed on July 26, 1990.
Courtesy of Easter Seals

On July 4, America will celebrate 239 years of independence.

Later in the month, our country will mark another historic moment: the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law passed on July 26, 1990, that guarantees certain rights — and increased independence — to our compatriots with physical and intellectual disabilities.

In this era of ramps and lifts and other hallmarks of accessible design, it's sometimes hard to remember that not too long ago inaccessibility was the norm. And barriers abounded.

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NPR History Dept.
10:08 am
Tue June 16, 2015

When 'Womanless Weddings' Were Trendy

Womanless weddings, like this one in a Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, often included prominent members of the community. Alongside the bride, with hands clasped, is Theodore M. Berry, the first African-American mayor of the city.
Theodore M. Berry Papers, Archives & Rare Books Library, University of Cincinnati

Originally published on Tue June 16, 2015 11:15 am

The flowery month of June and the whiff of wedlock is in the air.

Definitions of marriage in America keep expanding, but for most of the country's history, the word "wedding" has called to mind images of a woman in a white dress and a man in a black tuxedo. And traditionally, June was the most popular month to get hitched.

So, there's no better time to reminisce about a once-popular community ritual — still perhaps practiced occasionally — that would seem to be on the edge of extinction: the womanless wedding.

Bearded Brides

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NPR History Dept.
9:23 am
Thu June 11, 2015

Dirty Dancing In The Early 1900s

The Bunny Hug sheet music, 1912.
New York Public Library Digital Collections

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 11:38 am

To watch them being performed today, the Bunny Hug, the Turkey Trot, the Grizzly Bear and other so-called "animal dances" of the early 1900s seem tame, tame, tame.

But for a few decades, beginning in the 19-teens, those ragtime rug-cutters shocked America and had polite society crying shame, shame, shame.

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NPR History Dept.
9:42 am
Tue June 9, 2015

The Battles Of A Civil War Re-Enactress

J.R. Hardman, dressed for Civil War re-enactment.
O.K. Keyes Courtesy of Reenactress

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 12:01 pm

When J.R. Hardman, 28, asked to join a group of Civil War re-enactors in a military drill a few years ago, the unit commander said no dice.

Hardman was willing to wear the wool uniform, carry the gear, load the muskets, eat the hardtack, but the brass still said no.

Because ... J.R. Hardman is a woman.

The unit commander told her to talk to his wife, who would help Hardman find a hoop skirt.

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NPR History Dept.
10:03 am
Thu June 4, 2015

Chinese Basketballers Of Yesteryear

A Chinese basketball team from the YMCA in San Francisco, 1919.
Courtesy of the Kautz Family YMCA Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries.

Originally published on Thu June 4, 2015 1:50 pm

When thinking about Chinese basketball players in early 20th-century America, keep in mind these two events:

  • In 1882: President Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which severely restricted Chinese immigration to this country. Versions of restrictive legislation remained in place until World War II, when the rules were repealed by the Magnuson Act in 1943 — which still only allowed 105 Chinese immigrants into this country each year.
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NPR History Dept.
9:47 am
Tue June 2, 2015

How The YMCA Helped Shape America

An adult gymnastics club performs a group stunt on the parallel bars at the Rochester, N.Y., YMCA at the beginning of the 20th century.
Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis

Originally published on Tue June 2, 2015 2:53 pm

The American wing of the Young Men's Christian Association — a worldwide organization founded in London in 1844 — launched the first basketball teams and group swim lessons in the U.S., popularized exercise classes and created the oldest summer camp still in operation, the YMCA's historians tell us.

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NPR History Dept.
10:18 am
Thu May 28, 2015

The Windshield-Pitting Mystery Of 1954

A man shows his pitted windshield to a police officer in Seattle in 1954
Museum of History & Industry, Seattle Post- Intelligencer Collection, 1986.5.571.1

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 5:56 pm

The nationwide weirdness that was the Windshield-Pitting Mystery began in the spring of 1954. Looking back at the events today may give us a window — OK, a windshield — on the makeup and the mindset of mid-20th-century America.

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NPR History Dept.
9:58 am
Tue May 26, 2015

When 'Petting Parties' Scandalized The Nation

Originally published on Wed May 27, 2015 12:24 pm

To some social observers, petting parties of the 1920s were a natural, post-First World War outgrowth of a repressed society. To others, the out-in-the-open hug-and-kissfests were blinking neon signposts on the Road to Perdition.

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NPR History Dept.
9:43 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Muddled Messages In America's Past

Telegraph operator, 1908.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 5:17 pm

Do you ever feel like communication — in this Age of Communication — is more confused and confusing than ever? Does anybody even read whole messages anymore — beyond the subject line or the first screen? Do you get tangled up in threads and bewildered by attachments? Do txt msgs n-furi-8 u?

Here's the real question: Are all these communication devices truly improving interaction between humans or just providing more opportunities for miscommunication?

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NPR History Dept.
10:03 am
Tue May 19, 2015

The Repast Is Not Even Past: Old LA Menus

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 12:28 pm

Let's see — what shall we have? So much to choose from in the collection of historical menus at the Los Angeles Public Library.

There are some 9,000 items to consider — creative, colorful, delicious-looking. By just perusing the choices, we get a deep sense of the city's rich culture and juicy past.

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NPR History Dept.
12:03 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

The Curious World Of Baseball Re-Enactors

The Dirigo Vintage Base Ball Club in Maine.
Courtesy of Matt Muise

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 12:38 pm

Vintage base ball players — sort of like Civil War re-enactors who wield wooden bats instead of muskets — move among us. They glory in the past times of America's pastime.

Think: When Johnny comes sliding home.

Dressed in old uniforms, teams play each other using 19th century rules. Sometimes they don't wear gloves. Sometimes they pitch underhand. They spell "base ball" as two words. They call each other "ballists."

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NPR History Dept.
1:16 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Do We Talk Funny? 51 American Colloquialisms

Jennifer Maravillas Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 8:25 pm

Has American English become homogenized? Have our regional ways of saying particular things — sometimes in very particular ways — receded into the past? Or do we talk as funny as ever?

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