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One of the most recognizable and popular documentary filmmakers of our time, Ken Burns chronicles those aspects of U.S. history that make us uniquely American.
A perennial figure on PBS, Ken Burns is the creator, director and producer of numerous award-winning documentaries, including Jazz, Civil War, Baseball, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea and The Tenth Inning. His documentary, Prohibition, tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the entire era it encompassed. Burns has also focused his lens a number of other topics, including: The War, an intimate look at the years 1941-1945; Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony; Frank Lloyd Wright; and Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery. His documentary, The Address, tells the story of a tiny school in Putney Vermont, the Greenwood School, where each year the students are encouraged to practice, memorize, and recite the Gettysburg Address. In its exploration of the Greenwood School, the film also unlocks the history, context and importance of President Lincoln’s most powerful address. His new documentary/television miniseries, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. It is the first time in a major documentary television series that their individual stories have been interwoven into a single narrative. A compelling storyteller, Burns speaks to audiences about the subjects of his documentaries as well as the creative process.
TODAY: Ken Burns, Tom Brokaw Talk About 'Mayo Clinic' Documentary
PBS News: Why America is still raw over the Vietnam War
Ken Burns' Speech Topics
This combines the biographies of some of Ken’s most fascinating subjects, including Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Frank Lloyd Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and Mark Twain. He shares how biography works, and gives insight into the storytelling process. No clips.
Mystic Chords of Memory
The Civil War continues to be the most important event in American history. In this eloquent address, Burns paints both an intimate and bird’s eye view of the searing events of the years 1861 through 1865 and the war’s profound relevance to us today. (Civil War intro if requested.)
A detailed and intimate look at three hugely influential, but deeply flawed and wounded people, who are Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt—their lives, but also their times.
Vietnam War Speech
Burns tries to make sense of the most important and most consequential event in American History since World War II. Here competing viewpoints and perspectives are balanced to give us a chance to finally come to terms with this important conflict.
No Ordinary Lives
Drawing on some of Lincoln's most stirring words as inspiration, this speech engages the paradox of war by following the powerful themes in two of Ken Burns's best known works--"The Civil War", his epic retelling of the most important event in American history, and "The War", his intensely moving story of WWII told through the experiences of so-called ordinary people from four geographically distributed American towns. Opens with Norah Jones 5-minute “American Anthem” clip from The War.
Sharing the American Experience
Ken Burns reminds the audience of the timeless lessons of history, and the enduring greatness and importance of the United States in the course of human events. Incorporating The Civil War, Baseballand Jazz, Burns engages and celebrates what we share in common. No clips.
A Treasure House of Nature's Superlatives
Burns discusses the great gift of our national parks. Here both “the immensity and the intimacy of time” merge, as we appreciate what the parks have added to our collective and individual spirit. Begins with a 13-minute clip (the intro to The National Parks: America’s Best Idea).
Conversation with Ken Burns
What Other Organizations Say About Ken Burns
Ken was one of the nicest speakers we’ve ever had. He was very easy to work with and spent a gracious amount of time with anyone who asked. He was very well received at the event, reception and book signing. All were well attended.Vanderbilt University
Works by Ken Burns
National Parks (opens in a new tab)
People Also Viewed
Best-Selling Author; Acclaimed Historian and Journalist; Professor of History, Tulane University