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.

Gentle warning: This is a big story about a big nation. My beloved editor, Scott, suggests it can be read as a story and/or used as a living-history resource. Americans are doers. In the United States today, history is an action word. This is, after all, a participatory democracy, and people are participating in its history by volunteering, crafting, interpreting, re-enacting, re-creating and exploring the old — anew. "For me, the doing is essential to learning," says food historian Paula...

Tucked away in the archives of the Library of Congress is a curious set of photos from the first half of the 20th century — animals, mostly kittens and puppies, dressed as people and doing peopley things: baking a cake, holding a cello, getting married. Of the photos, the Atlantic proclaimed that "their humor and appeal is timeless." The photographer was Harry Whittier Frees. He has been hailed as "the original LOLcat photographer." But his life, as it turns out, was not all laughs. Eureka...

Ah, the Henpecks. Jokes about a married couple with a domineering wife and subservient husband — named Mr. and Mrs. Henpeck — made the rounds in the late 19th century. She is the strong one; he's the weakling. She reads the newspaper; he does the dishes. The idea of the "henpecked husband" was social shorthand for underscoring cultural expectations of men and women. Here are three of the jokes, as told in the 1890s: "Mr. and Mrs. Henpeck have separated." "Indeed!" "Yes, and Mrs. Henpeck is...

The annual heavily choreographed PBS presentation Christmas in Washington has been canceled . But there was a holiday season in the nation's capital long before the revue and there will be one for years to come. Here are seven stories of holiday happenings at the White House. Your challenge is to fill in each blank with the name of the correct president. Yes, you in the back ... of course you can use Google. After all: This isn't school; this is NPR. (Or you can glance at the Answers and...

Every day smart folks make assertions — about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and issues of all sorts. "Our emphatic prediction is simply that Trump will not win the nomination," opined Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com in August. And Clinton "is unelectable due to negative favorability polls nationwide and within swing states," H.A. Goodman wrote on Huffington Post in October. Sometimes such sweeping pronouncements prove true; sometimes they are found to be folly. In many cases, hindsight and...

Ah, the holiday season: Glad tidings. Comfort. Joy. Pranks. Say what? For some earlier Americans, Christmas was the yearly open season for playing practical jokes on other people — filching wagon wheels, turning road signs the wrong way, lighting firecrackers to scare animals. A sort of cold weather April Fools' Day, perhaps to make the midwinter less bleak. Some of the gags were benign; others brutal. In any case, the tradition of holiday high jinks goes back, way back before the founding of...

Contracted by the government between 1880 and 1896, photographer Levin C. Handy documented the construction of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill. Handy, who was nephew to legendary American photographer Mathew Brady, "produced more than 900 glass plate negatives that showed every stage of the construction process. including building materials and their ox-drawn transportation, stone-setting cranes and pulleys, work methods and laborers and artisans on...

Despite what you read in some history books — such as the Biographical Dictionary of Congressional Women — Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) was not in 1972 the first African-American candidate to run for president of the United States. In 1904, George Edwin Taylor — often forgotten in the discussion of black American political pioneers — ran for president as the candidate of the National Negro Liberty Party, sometimes known as the National Liberty Party. Son Of A Slave A journalist by trade,...

Time was in America that stores routinely closed on Thanksgiving Day. Folks sent Thanksgiving greeting cards, people donned odd costumes and schools and communities staged elaborate parades and Thanksgiving pageants in which Native Americans and Pilgrims gathered together and smiled and waved. This year, as Forbes reports , "Many stores will be open on Thanksgiving Day in order to gain an extra selling day." The sending of holiday cards by snail mail is in steady decline, according to the...

These days it seems like the holidays are running together — at least commercially speaking — when Halloween masks start popping up around Labor Day and Christmas trappings are for sale in the stores before Thanksgiving. In the stores it feels sort of like Hallothankshanachristmasgivingween. But the jumbling of holidays is not exclusive to contemporary times. Turns out that people all across America used to wear costumes on or near Thanksgiving, which effectively created a mash-up of...

"This is indeed," the Adams Sentinel in Gettysburg, Pa., proclaimed on Feb. 24, 1830, "the age of improvement." The proclamation was part of a story about the Moral Encyclopaedia, a set of self-teaching books by a writer identified as "Charles Varle, Esq. of Baltimore." An advocate of autodidacticism and good old American self-reliance, Varle explains in the introduction to the third, long-windedly titled volume — Varlé's Self-instructor, No. 3, in Literature, Duties of Life, and Rules of...

Can we crowdsource a history story? Often you add insightful information to stories I have posted and sometimes you suggest new stories for me to write. I feel like we are in a partnership. So, I wondered further, if you would like to help me brew up a story ... If not, that's OK. No pressure. I will probably write it anyway. This is just an experiment, using tools that weren't available only a few years ago. Here is the idea: Some people believe that the old ways are the best ways and so...

Take a look at this photo. It's a handsome group portrait of, according to the Library of Congress , President Abraham Lincoln, flanked by Adm. David G. Farragut and Gens. William T. Sherman, George Henry Thomas, George Gordon Meade, Ulysses S. Grant, Joseph Hooker, Philip Henry Sheridan and Winfield Scott Hancock. The men look healthy, distinguished, prosperous. There are a couple of hitches, however. First of all, the photo is dated 1884 by the library. Lincoln had been dead for 19 years,...

There were some mighty funny folks in 19th century America: writers Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce, for instance. And, by some accounts, stage comedians Fanny Rice and Marshall P. Wilder. For a while, Rice was billed as the Funniest Woman in America. And Wilder, who specialized in mother-in-law jokes, was called the Funniest Man. "It is one of the hardest things in the world to be funny," an aspiring comedian said in an 1887 reprint of a New York Journal story about Marshall Wilder and other...

Thomas Jefferson was a great one for giving out advice. As Anna Berkes points out on the Monticello website, the third U.S. president often took the opportunity to advise family and friends on all-around "best practices." Over the years, she writes, Jefferson "developed a list of axioms for personal behavior. Some seem to have been of his own invention; others derived from classical or literary sources." Here is a "decalogue of canons for observation in practical life" that the former...

A handful of popular female writers of 19th century America — such as Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe — continue to be widely taught and read. Others who were extremely well-known back then, for some reason or other, are today pretty much relegated to the history books. Take Fanny Fern for instance. The nom de plume of Sara Payson Willis — who was born in 1811 and died in 1872 — Fanny Fern "was hugely popular in the 19th century" and a highly paid journalist, says Tiffany Aldrich...

When America was younger: Ladies wore hats, men sported spats and Halloween could be hard on the family buggy or wagon. By the late 19th century, All Hallows Eve had become – all across the country — a night for playing tricks on neighbors. This was a breach of the social contract, of course, in an unsettled and unsettling country where neighbors trusted in, and depended on, neighbors for succor and survival. One of the favorite capers was to "borrow" someone's wagon and send it — driverless ...

Swim around enough in the oceanic photo archives of the Library of Congress and you will spot some strange things — including old doctored photos of two-headed humans and a man-monster superimposition . But perhaps nothing as bizarre as this photo — labeled General Grant at City Point. Look at it closely. Notice anything amiss? The photo is a composite shot of several pictures — pieced together for effect more than 100 years ago. A faux photo fashioned long before Photoshop, which was...

With the new movie about the British suffrage movement, Suffragette , scheduled to be released this week, recollections of protest and debate concerning a woman's right to vote in the U.S. are inevitable. As the 19th century ended and the 20th began, the American wave of women pushing for access to the ballot box gathered momentum. But it wasn't until the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1920 that voting rights were guaranteed for all women. Hard as it is to imagine today,...

Only is a lonely word. It sets people apart and places them at a back-of-the-cafe table for one. When speaking of the 43 men who have been president of the United States — a rarefied roster already — the word only is extra-exclusive. Some of the presidential onlies are well-known. Barack Obama is the only African-American president. Gerald Ford is the only president to have also served as vice president without having been elected to either office. He is also the only president from the state...

Manners still matter. Later this month in Los Angeles, at the annual convention of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society — a group that focuses on making systems, devices and machines more human-friendly — researchers plan to report on a study showing that people want robots to be more mannerly and polite. In America, though, manners and mores are ever morphing. And what was polite in the past — such as a man opening a door for a woman — is not always seen as polite in the present. ...

Just a few weeks ago, the nonprofit Trust for the National Mall staged a music festival — featuring Drake and the Strokes — to benefit the remarkable public space in Washington, D.C., that includes some of America's most recognizable landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and Washington Monument. The Trust reports that the festival drew an estimated 50,000 people and raised some $570,000 to be used for improving, preserving and restoring...

The tradition of lavish, super-indulgent dinners in America, says Becky Libourel Diamond , author of the soon-to-be-published book The Thousand Dollar Dinner , comes from the fact that our country has always been known as the Land of Opportunity for Pursuers of Happiness. Pass the champagne and caviar. "Expensive dinners became a way for the upper class to show off their wealth and status in society," Diamond says. "An opulent dinner is more than just a meal; it is an experience. In the 19th...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIedxxNrLC4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw4Dc7LTT0s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBCpiGHCQGI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emSPu6VoJjE For decades, The Daughter of Dawn was a "lost film" — a buried American treasure. The 1920 multireel, silent movie was rediscovered and restored a few years ago. Only recently has the movie become more widely available. You can watch it on Netflix. You can also see some representative clips and a travelogue piece on YouTube...

For several years now, a popular purveyor of tacos has suggested that Americans who get the munchies late at night are participating in a contemporary dining ritual called " Fourthmeal ." New research from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif., suggests that Americans eat throughout most of their waking hours, the Los Angeles Times reports . But the notion of taking more than three meals a day just might have some historical precedence. Here and there in old newspapers and books we find...

Historians are telling us that we have seen Donald Trump before — well, parts of him anyway. In other words, the man who wants to be the American president has some American precedents. Trump has been compared, in variegated ways, to earlier American presidents and statesmen. Catherine Allgor , a Distinguished Fellow at the University of California, Riverside, sees Trump as one in a continuum of angry American men. After the American Revolution ended, Allgor tells NPR, "the political climate...

History can be tricky. Something that you think has never happened before has, actually, happened before. Someone who seems thoroughly modern actually lived long ago. And a quote that sounds up-to-the-nanosecond contemporary was actually uttered more than 100 years ago. So let's see how you do: Here are seven items — six quotes and a photo. Your task is to determine whether they occurred before 1900 or after 1900. Answers are at the bottom. 1) Newspaper quote: "Dick got an idea somehow that...

Fin-de-siecle America — in the final years of the 19th century — was fanatical about fads. "There is something about the end of a century that sets people to thinking about their collective prospects and ultimate destiny," writes historian H.W. Brands in The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s. And collective thinking can lead to collective compulsive behavior, which can lead to collective fashions and fads and manias. Some of the fads were confined to certain places; others traveled...

The legendary Gold Rush of the late 1840s was a game changer in American history. The promise of overnight wealth — and the industries that rose up around the wealth-seekers — lured legions of people from all over the world to Northern California and to cities and towns along the Pacific Coast. But there were other Gold Rush ramifications — economic and environmental — as well. For example: the wholesale taking of tortoises from the Galapagos Islands by sailors and fortune seekers on their...

Florida Cowboys Week: Part Two The state of Florida has a rich and diverse tradition of cattle ranching . Recently we explored the black cowboys of Florida . There are other distinctive elements to the state's past as well. "Indian cowboys," for instance. Long thought of as adversaries in conventional American history, cowboys and Native Americans in Florida not only lived side-by-side, they lived — and continue to live — in the same person's skin. For ages, the Seminole cowboy has ranched...

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