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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11:03am

Wed July 29, 2015
NPR History Dept.

The Future Of American History

Originally published on Thu July 30, 2015 2:35 pm

Teaching American history in the contemporary classroom — and in the coming years — holds some particular, and complicated, challenges. (Space mural by Robert McCall, National Air and Space Museum)
Eddie Brady Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

College history majors used to study The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Today perhaps they should also be studying the decline and fall of history majors.

Since 2010, the number of history majors at Ohio State University has dropped by more than 30 percent, according to a May 9 Columbus Dispatch story. Meanwhile, the number of students majoring in history at the University of Cincinnati has fallen by 33 percent since 2010.

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11:13am

Tue July 21, 2015
NPR History Dept.

12 Lost American Slangisms From The 1800s

Originally published on Tue July 21, 2015 2:53 pm

Bathers at the beach, 1897.
Library of Congress

Phrases phase in and out of everyday usage. Especially in the global hodgepodge that is American English. Sometimes, however, there are phrases forgotten that perhaps should be sayings salvaged.

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11:23am

Fri July 17, 2015
NPR History Dept.

What Hats Tell Us About American Men

Originally published on Sat July 18, 2015 4:55 pm

Ben Franklin in a fur hat.
Library of Congress

Fedoras, flat caps, baseball caps — hats are prevalent among certain American men these days. Perhaps the hats tell us more about the hat wearer than we realize.

In fact, the National American History Museum points out in its intro to an online hat exhibit that "a hat is much more than a practical device for keeping one's head warm. As a symbol of identity, it also reveals much about the wearer's occupation, social class, cultural heritage, and personal style."

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10:48am

Sun July 12, 2015
NPR History Dept.

Baseball In Skirts, 19th-Century Style

Originally published on Tue July 14, 2015 9:46 am

Chloe Judnic of the River Belles.
Courtesy of Carol "Miss Jewel" Sheldon

As our nation prepares for the annual MLB All-Star Game on July 14, let us pause and refresh our memories of women's baseball in 19th-century America — and what it represented.

From the very early days of baseball in America, women were involved. First, as spectators, as reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of Aug. 4, 1859, when a game between two local teams "was witnessed by a large number of people, the greater part of whom were ladies."

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10:38am

Wed July 8, 2015
NPR History Dept.

Strange Stories Surrounding Street Pianos

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 4:13 pm

An organ grinder and child in Chicago, 1891.
Sigmund Krausz Bettmann/CORBIS

Under the headline "Signs of Summer" in 1916, the New Castle, Del., Herald listed: lollipops, robins, bare feet and street pianos.

Yes, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, street pianos were everywhere. Their perky, plinky, preset music — playing the same songs over and over — filled the air in towns across America.

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10:03am

Sat July 4, 2015
NPR History Dept.

When America's Librarians Went To War

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 5:55 pm

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

Looking back at the nationwide support for American troops in the two world wars, we see Americans of all stripes making patriotic contributions and sacrifices — including farmers, factory workers and librarians.

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7:04pm

Sat June 27, 2015
NPR History Dept.

The Cherry Sisters: Worst Act Ever?

Originally published on Sun June 28, 2015 8:37 am

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

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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11:03am

Tue June 23, 2015
NPR History Dept.

4 Forgotten Fads Of The Past

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 2:55 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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10:57am

Fri June 19, 2015
NPR History Dept.

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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11:08am

Tue June 16, 2015
NPR History Dept.

When 'Womanless Weddings' Were Trendy

Originally published on Tue June 16, 2015 12:15 pm

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

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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10:23am

Thu June 11, 2015
NPR History Dept.

Dirty Dancing In The Early 1900s

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 12:38 pm

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

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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10:33am

Tue June 9, 2015
NPR History Dept.

The Battles Of A Civil War Re-Enactress

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 1:01 pm

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

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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11:03am

Thu June 4, 2015
NPR History Dept.

Chinese Basketballers Of Yesteryear

Originally published on Thu June 4, 2015 2:50 pm

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

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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10:47am

Tue June 2, 2015
NPR History Dept.

How The YMCA Helped Shape America

Originally published on Tue June 2, 2015 3:53 pm

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

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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11:18am

Thu May 28, 2015
NPR History Dept.

The Windshield-Pitting Mystery Of 1954

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 6:56 pm

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

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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