Welcome to Iowa Public Television! If you are seeing this message, you are using a browser that does not support web standards. This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device. Read more on our technical tips page.

Iowa Public Television

 

American Experience

Daughter from Danang (#1510)

An adopted woman returns to her birthplace in Vietnam for a tense reunion with her mother. [82 minutes] Closed Captioning

This episode has not aired in the past few months on Iowa Public Television.

PBS Video

Series Description: As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation.

« Upcoming Episodes

All Episodes

  • Lindbergh (#301)

    When 25-year-old pilot Charles A. Lindbergh made the first solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927, he became an icon of the modern age--but the struggle to wear the mantle of legend and live an ordinary life proved to be a consuming one. The producers received unprecedented cooperation from the Lindbergh family and conducted interviews with Anne Morrow Lindbergh for this look at a very complex man. Stacy Keach narrates. [56 minutes]

  • Nixon (#302)

    Nixon's life and political career are chronicled, from his youth to his Presidency and resignation. [176 minutes]

    Watch This Episode Online

  • LBJ - Part 1 (#401)

    Lyndon Johnson's poor childhood, rise to political power and 1964 election victory are chronicled. [116 minutes]

  • LBJ - Part 2 (#402)

    Lyndon Johnson's pursuit of social programs, escalation in Vietnam and retirement years are traced. [116 minutes]

  • The Quiz Show Scandal (#409)

    As television became a national obsession in the mid-1950s, a new breed of hero appeared on the american scene -- contestants on the big money quiz shows. As revered as movie stars and baseball heroes, their names became household legends. Then, slowly and painfully, a congressional investigation revealed that the shows were fixed. Americans felt angry and betrayed. This film looks at the formative years of television and its impact on the tv business and a naive america. [56 minutes]

  • The Kennedys - The Father (#501)

    This was the first of a two-part documentary on the lives of Joe and Rose Kennedy and their nine children, particularly Joseph Jr., John, Robert, and Edward. It charted the course of the Kennedy's extraordinary political trajectory, an odyssey marked by both achievement and tragedy. This program focuses on Joe Kennedy Sr.'s drive to overcome prejudice against Irish Catholics and make his mark in the worlds of finance and politics. It chronicled Kennedy's success in business; his relationship with FDR; his appointment as ambassador to Great Britain; his son's rise to the White House. [114 minutes]

  • The Kennedys - The Sons (#502)

    The second evening of "The Kennedys" focuses on the lives of the Kennedy brothers. This program traces the family history beginning with JFK's administration. Through film footage and interviews with historians, family members, friends, and colleagues, it examines the president's personal and political life and early death; the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy; and the final hopes of Ted Kennedy, who faced personal crises and a campaign for the presidency. [114 minutes]

  • Malcolm X - Make It Plain (#606)

    This definitive biography reflects the intellectual journey of a man whose ideas still resonate. [143 minutes]

  • America and the Holocaust-Deceit and Indifference (#607)

    Weaving together interviews, official photos and documents, home movies, and archival film, this 90-minute film explores the complex social and political factors that shaped America's response to the Holocaust. The story of Kurt Klein, who struggled with State Department red tape to free his parents from Eastern Europe, represents America's reaction to European Jews clamoring for rescue. [87 minutes]

  • D-Day (#608)

    This program chronicles one of the most dramatic events of World War II--T he Allied Invasion of Europe through Normandy. For all the split-second p lanning and careful rehearsal, "It was a soldier's Battle," general Eisenh ower said later. Award-Winning filmmaker Charles Guggenheim uses rarely se en archives from nonmilitary sourcesand oral histories of combatants to e xamine the experiences of the men who are the heart of the D-Day Story. [55 minutes]

  • FDR: The Center of the World/Fear Itself (#701)

    Franklin D. Roosevelt's family background, education, bout with polio and marriage are explored. [116 minutes]

    Watch This Episode Online

  • FDR: The Grandest Job in the World/The Juggler (#702)

    Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency, social policies and management of World War II are examined. [146 minutes]

  • The Battle of the Bulge (#705)

    The Battle of the Bulge was the single biggest and bloodiest battle American soldiers ever fought. It came as a total surprise to allied troops when, on December 16, 1944, thirty German divisions roared across an 85-mile Allied front. By Christmas, the German offensive had opened a bulge some fifty miles into the Allied lines, forcing the biggest mass surrender of American soldiers since Bataan. Unprepared for the assault, more than 80,000 Americans were killed, maimed or captured. This film looked at the battle through the eyes of the U.S. soldiers and combat officers in the field--the young men charged with holding the line and closing the bulge. The program explored who the soldiers were and how they came to be in the Ardenees; how they lived before the Battle and survived within it; and why their memories, some fifty years later, continued to haunt them. [86 minutes]

  • Murder of the Century (#801)

    On June 25, 1906, New York City's leading architect and man-about-town was shot to death while attending a musical performance at Madison square garden's rooftop theater. Harry K. Thaw, eccentric heir to a Pittsburgh railroad fortune, had pulled the trigger that ended Stanford White's life, marking the final act in a long struggle between the two men over Thaw's young wife, the model and showgirl Evelyn Nesbit. Coined the "murder of the century" by the press, the crime was reported "to the ends of the civilized globe." One tabloid increased its daily circulation by 100,000 thanks to detailed coverage of the trial -- much of which focused not on the victim or the accused, but on the fascinating Evelyn Nesbit and her life of glamour, wealth and tragedy Narrated by David Ogden Stiers. [56 minutes]

  • Edison's Miracle of Light (#802)

    From the exhilaration of discovery to momentary disappointments, "Edison's Miracle of Light" profiles Thomas Edison and the invention that lit up the world. Not only did he invent the light bulb, he conceptualized the infrastructure to support electricity. The inevitability of competitor Westinghouse's alternate current system drove Edison from General Electric and propelled his involvement in the first execution by electric chair. However, the "Wizard of Menlo Park" went on to make countless contributions throughout the next thirty years of his life. While Edison and his staff would, over time, develop all the components needed for an electrical system--bulbs, sockets, switches, wires, junction boxes, power meters, voltage regulators--Edison himself became caught in a web of personal, patent, and corporate battles. In the end, Thomas Edison revolutionized the world, yet lost control of the industry that he founded. [57 minutes]

  • The Richest Man in the World: Andrew Carnegie (#903)

    This episode of the American Experience is a portrait of 19th Century industrialist Andrew Carnegie, a man described by a friend as "a ship forever in sight of port but never landing." A series of historians trace his path to power, from his humble beginnings in Scotland, to his successful yet stormy rise to power in the American steel industry. Raised by an altruistic father and a materialistic, aggressive mother, Carnegie was a curious blend of the two influences. He was driven to make a profit at all costs, many times at the expense of his workers, setting a demanding scale of production of the steel that formed the basis of modern America. Yet he often spoke out on the rights of the working man, and gave away millions in donations for public libraries and buildings. It is the duality of his nature that forms the core of this portrait. [116 minutes]

  • Hawaii's Last Queen (#904)

    This episode of The American Experience chronicles Hawaiian history from 1778, when it was first discovered as a direct route to China, to 1893, when Queen Lili'uokalani surrendered her power to the United States. Queen Lili'uokalani was descended from generations of Hawaiian chiefs and was steadfast about preventing a Hawaiian "cultural malaise" despite pressure from the Christian missionaries who were Americanizing the islands. Many Hawaiians today believe that their culture survived modernity because of her efforts. [56 minutes]

  • The Telephone (#905)

    As America celebrated the Centennial in 1876, during a period of tremendous technological advancement, Alexander Graham Bell and his machinist assistant Thomas Watson introduced the "hamonic telegraph" to the public. The subsequent growth of telephone lines across America symbolized the country's own expansion from coast to coast. "The American Experience" follows Bell's struggles and triumphs as he kept up with public demand, fought competitors and eventually withdrew from the industry that made him famous. This episode chronicles the history of the telephone and its impact on society as it changed the way Americans communicate forever. [56 minutes]

  • Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern (#908)

    In 1862, President Lincoln established the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It was dubbed "the people's department," due to the fact that 90% of the citizens in the United States were farmers. Now, only 2% of the American public are farmers, and they are challenged daily by environmental conditions, an unstable economy and large corporate farms. In the late 1980's, Iowa farmers Russ and Mary Jane Jordan faced a $200,000 debt and a bottom line-oriented bank. Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Jeanne Jordan chronicled her family's dilemma as they struggled desperately to keep the land that had been worked by her family since the 1800's. It is a microcosm of a battle being fought by small farms across the country. The Jordan's solution is an emotionally gripping one that may save their farm, but has a somewhat devastating affect on the family. [86 minutes]

  • Around The World In 72 Days (#909)

    At the age of nineteen, Nellie Bly talked her way into an improbable job on a newspaper, then went on to become "the best reporter in America." She was serious and spunky in an age when women had little rights and almost no independence. She created the "stunt" report-- the first form of investigative reporting--and took on such challenges as exposing a baby-buying trade by posing as an unwed mother; and having herself committed to report on life inside an insane asylum. When the publisher of her newspaper dared her to travel the world in less than 80 days--in an attempt to beat Jules Verne's popular fictional escapade--Nellie sealed her fate to become a revered luminary, one of the first celebrities for a growing American pop culture. [56 minutes]

  • Truman (1 of 2) (#1001)

    Harry Truman's early struggles and failures, determination and time as Vice President is recounted. [146 minutes]

    Watch This Episode Online

  • Truman (Part 2) (#1002)

    Harry Truman's unlikely rise to the presidency and the major crises he faced in office are examined. [116 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • A Midwife's Tale (#1003)

    From the late 1700s to the early 1800s, Martha Moore Ballard provided medicinal care and midwifery services to the remote town in Maine in which she lived. Every day, until her death in 1812, Martha kept a diary of her experiences as a midwife, a member of her family and a citizen of her community. In the 1980s, after eight years of intense and extensive research of the document, author and historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich began to realize the importance of the diary and how it captured the way people lived in the early years of the United States. The resulting book, "A Midwife's Tale" became a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. In a powerful dramatic film, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presents "A Midwife's Tale" and reveals how one woman faced the economic changes, and political and social turmoil of the decades following the American Revolution. [86 minutes]

  • Mr. Miami Beach (#1004)

    A master promoter who produced elaborate spectacles to sell bicycles and cars, Carl Fisher had already made a fortune and built a motor speedway in his native Indianapolis when he was seized by a vision. On a narrow spit of swampland near Miami, Fisher created a tropical paradise of sand and palm trees, then masterminded a dazzling sales campaign. It worked -- until a devastating hurricane and the Crash of 1929 brought an end to his dream. [56 minutes]

  • America 1900 (#1101)

    In the long ago year of 1900, back at the threshold of the twentieth century the United States among the nations of the world was like a big raw boy--full of robust, energy, and growing pains. Times were good prosperity had taken hold. Most Americans were living better in a material way than they ever had or had anyone in all of history until then. And with a wondrous number of new inventions and enterprises sprouting everywhere, people felt exhilarated by the possibilities of America. Progress was something you believed in because it was all around you. If there were some who weren't exactly enjoying a fair share of the good life, or for whom the American birthright of equality was still only a dream, the feeling was "Well, we'll work that through--we'll see it's done". 1900 was an exceptionally crowded year filled with stirring events and tragedy, through which the current of American optimism ran powerfully. This program explores the twists the turns, the highs and the lows of America in 1900. [169 minutes]

  • Race for the Superbomb (#1102)

    At the dawn of the Cold War, the United States initiated a top secret program in New Mexico to build a hydrogen bomb more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. A world away, on the frozen steppes of Siberia, the Soviet Union began a similar effort. This program tracks each country's effort to attain technological dominance, from top secret research facilities to the unexpected results of the first military tests. Surviving physicists and generals from both sides tell how they feel about the part they played in an arms race that escalated out of control. [112 minutes]

  • Alone on the Ice (#1104)

    In June 1934, Richard Byrd lay alone in a small hut below the polar ice, hovering near death. No one before Byrd had ever experienced winter in the interior of the Antarctic. In an age of heroes, he was one of America's greatest. An explorer, aviation pioneer and scientist, Byrd was also an egotist, risk-taker, heavy drinker -- and, his critics claim, a fraud who took credit for the accomplishments of others. [56 minutes]

  • Rescue at Sea (#1105)

    On January 23, 1909, two ships--one carrying Italian immigrants to New York, the other American tourists to Europe--collided in a dense fog off Nantuckett Island. Suddenly, more than 1500 lives became dependent on a new technology, wireless telegraphy, and a 26-year-old wireless operator who sent distress signals as his cabin filled with water. Nearly all passengers were saved and a week after the collision a bill requiring wireless on every ship carrying more than 50 passengers was introduced in Congress. [56 minutes]

  • Meltdown at Three Mile Island (#1106)

    Examine the equipment failure, human error & bad luck that created America's worst nuclear accident. [56 minutes]

  • Lost in the Grand Canyon (#1107)

    A one-armed Civil War veteran studied the region and argued against the overdevelopment of the West. [56 minutes]

  • Macarthur: Part 1 (#1108)

    This first episode covers Macarthur's birth at a frontier outpost during the Spanish-American war, the influence of his ambitious parents, his early years in Manila, and his time as a cadet at West Point. Leading a bold charge to capture a hill in World War I he become the U.S.'s most decorated soldier and set the pattern he would follow for the rest of his career. Given the assignment to bring West Point into the twentieth century, he fell afoul of politics and was removed to Manila, where he tried to raise a Philippine Army. When the Japanese attack, he reluctantly removes with his family to the island of Corregidor but stubbornly refuses to take refuge in the underground stronghold. Determined to be wherever his men are, he only flees to Australia under the personal command of the president, making his famous vow, "I shall return." [115 minutes]

  • Macarthur: Part 2 (#1109)

    In this episode, Macarthur marches across New Guinea to beat the Navy to the Philippines, fulfilling his vow to return and liberate his troops that had been abandoned to a Japanese POW camp. After successful campaigning for much of the war, MacArthur arranges the signing of a peace treaty with Japan with great ceremony and is charged with the reconstruction of Japan. Later replaced in Tokyo, MacArthur makes several unsuccessful political bids and is removed from the circle of power until the Korean War breaks out and he is needed once again. [114 minutes]

  • Fly Girls (#1110)

    During World War II, more than a thousand women signed up to fly with the United States military. Wives, mothers, actresses and debutantes who joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) test-piloted aircraft, ferried planes and logged 60 million miles in the air. Thirty-eight women died in service. But the opportunity to play a critical role in the war effort was abruptly canceled by politics and resentment, and it would be 30 years before women would again break the sex barrier in the skies. [56 minutes]

  • Eleanor Roosevelt (#1201)

    This intimate biography explores the secretive & surprising private life of a controversial figure. [146 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Houdini (#1202)

    In 1912, Harry Houdini was lowered into the East River in a crate wrapped in chains. The crowd of spectators gasped; reporters pulled out their stopwatches. Houdini was out in less than a minute. The resulting media blitz established him forever as the world's greatest escape artist; on stage, Houdini subjected himself to the Water Torture Cell, being buried alive and other perils of his own design. Throughout his rise from Hungarian immigrant to international star, Houdini confronted humanity's greatest fears - entrapment, pain, death - and emerged victorious. [56 minutes]

  • Nixon's China Game (#1203)

    In February 1972, after a quarter-century of mutual antagonism between the United States and China, President Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing for a historic encounter with Chairman Mao Tse-tung. The climax of a secret White House initiative headed by Henry Kissinger, the diplomatic breakthrough shocked both America's allies and its enemies. Drawing on recently declassified records and key eyewitnesses, the program re-creates, step by dangerous step, the events leading up to what Nixon called "the week that changed the world." [56 minutes]

  • The Duel (#1204)

    The most famous gunfight in American history climaxed a longstanding conflict between two of the most important men in the country. Alexander Hamilton, an impoverished immigrant from the West Indies, rose to become a framer of the U.S. Constitution and the architect of America's political economy. Aaron Burr, born in New England to wealth and privilege, served with distinction in the Revolutionary War, founded a national bank and was nearly elected the nation's third president. In 1804, they met in a duel that changed both men's lives - and the course of history. [56 minutes]

  • John Brown's Holy War (#1205)

    Martyr, madman, murderer, hero: John Brown remains one of history's most controversial and misunderstood figures. In the 1850s, he and his ragtag guerrilla group embarked on a righteous crusade against slavery that was based on religious faith -- yet carried out with shocking violence. His execution at Harpers Ferry sparked a chain of events that led to the Civil War. Joe Morton narrates. [86 minutes]

  • George Wallace: Settin' The Woods On Fire (Pt. 1) (#1206)

    George Wallace started his political career as a liberal judge, a champion of the poor of all races. But as the majority voting demographic and election results reflect more segregationist attitudes, Wallace makes a political decision for the sake of his own ambition to be the governor of Alabama. Playing race politics and supporting segregation produces a winning ticket, but at the price of becoming a demagogue of hatred forming secret alliances with the KKK. The Civil Rights movement gets the attention of the nation, but Wallace remains firm. His wife Lurlene becomes a political partner and runs for governor while battling cancer. This political strategy keeps Wallace involved in Alabama politics. [86 minutes]

  • George Wallace: Settin' The Woods On Fire (Pt.2) (#1207)

    In part 2 of this historical biography of George Wallace, the Alabama governor sets his sights on the White House. Running as a plain-talking, no-nonsense, conservative independent, Wallace nearly succeeds in gaining enough popular and electoral college votes to move the decision to the House of Representatives. Newly-elected president Richard Nixon takes note of Wallace's domestic political power among conservative anti-civil rights, anti-integration voters. Wallace appoints himself as the champion of the "Rednecks" and poor southern whites. A new love and wife enters the widowed governor's life (Cordelia) and joins him on the campaign trail. In his second attempt for the U.S. presidency in 1972, Wallace is shot several times by an attention-seeking assassin. Wallace survives but is bound to a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Though the mental anguish of his disability marks the bitter end of his political career and also his second marriage, Wallace experiences a personal and moral revelation. He seeks forgiveness from the Black community, political enemies and civil rights activists that he fought against for his political life. [86 minutes]

  • Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory (#1208)

    THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory is a documentary about a group of unknown singers from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The Jubilee Singers perform at many public events trying win the heart of the nation. Two members of this group are former slaves and others still in their teens. They sing spirituals such as "Steal Away" and religious anthems of slavery. Music historians, Horace Clarence Boyer, John Hope Franklin, Toni Anderson, and Katherine Preston, give insight on the Jubilee Singers and their success across the nation. [56 minutes]

  • Joe Dimaggio: The Hero's Life (#1209)

    He was one of the greatest sports heroes ever - and one of the most unlikely. Raised in a poor Italian fishing community in San Francisco, Joe DiMaggio joined the New York Yankees in 1936 and quickly rose to become the star of baseball's golden age. He was graceful, elegant and inspiring; his 56-game hitting streak electrified the nation. But Joe was always obsessed with being perfect, and over time became bitter and cynical about his celebrity. After his tumultuous marriage to Marilyn Monroe, he turned to cashing in on his fame. Richard Ben Cramer narrates this gritty portrait of the real man behind the legend. [86 minutes]

  • The Rockefellers - Part One (#1301)

    This episode covers the rise of the Rockefeller family fortunes, from the creation of Standard Oil to John Rockefeller Sr.'s abdication of power in favor of his son, John Jr., who will try to live up to the challenge and guilt of managing the family's immense wealth through charitable institutions. [86 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • The Rockefellers - Part Two (#1302)

    In this episode, the third generation of Rockefellers makes its mark, and the fourth tries to erase it. Many of John Jr.'s sons opt for political careers and become symbols of capitalist corruption during the turbulent 60s and 70s, while their own children join forces with the counter cultural opposition and sometimes even fund media attacks on their elders. [111 minutes]

  • Secrets of a Master Builder (#1303)

    A giant of inventiveness and reasoning, a self-made man and one of America's greatest engineers, James Buchanan Eads led a life inextricably linked with the nation's most important waterway, the Mississippi River. He explored the river bottom in a diving bell of his own design; made a fortune salvaging wrecks; built the world's first steel bridge over the Mississippi at St. Louis; and deepened the river at its mouth, turning New Orleans into the second largest port in the nation. By the time of his death, Eads was widely acknowledged to be one of the most influential men of his day. [56 minutes]

  • Return with Honor (#1304)

    "Return with Honor" is the story of American fighter pilots held as prisoners of war in North Vietnam. Told by the men themselves, the film is "a major shift in the screen image of the Vietnam veteran," according to the NEW YORK TIMES. More than 20 veterans describe their captivity and their struggle to survive mentally and physically, and return with honor. Their moving accounts are combined with archival footage from Vietnam and the United States to create an inspiring tale of personal heroism. [113 minutes]

  • Streamliners: America's Lost Trains (#1305)

    On the morning of May 26, 1934, a shimmering silver locomotive pulled out of Denver's Union Station bound for Chicago. The Zephyr was unlike any train seen before. Known as a streamliner for its long, sleek look and powered by a revolutionary compact diesel engine, it would cover 1015 miles in a record 13 hours. By the 1940s, fleets of streamliners crisscrossed the country making the U.S. passenger rail system the envy of the world. But within two decades the era of these supertrains was over, dozens of routes were discontinued and the cars sold off to Canada and Japan. The dramatic story of the streamliners is one of remarkable achievements and opportunities lost. [56 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind (#1306)

    He was both a visionary and a manipulator, a brilliant orator and a pompous autocrat. In just ten years following his emigration to the United States as a laborer in 1917, Marcus Garvey rose to lead the largest black organization in history, was taken to prison in handcuffs, and eventually deported. The dramatic story of the rise and fall of an African-American leader who influenced politics and culture around the world. [86 minutes]

  • Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided (Pt. 1) (#1307)

    Elected president only to see the nation fracture in two, Lincoln led a confused and frightened people through the most terrible war in their history. At the same time, his own household mirrored the fissures that rent the nation: the great emancipator was married to the daughter of a slave owner from Kentucky. Mary Todd Lincoln was an aristocratic southerner who met Lincoln when he was still a backwoods politician lacking in experience and sophistication. Although she remained fiercely loyal to her husband and the Union cause, two of her brothers fought for the South. Their marriage was long and turbulent, and knew many trials, including the loss of two children. This mini-series weaves together the lives of the two Lincolns, drawing us into their long-vanished world. This first episode covers Lincoln's boyhood, his courtship of and marriage to Mary Todd and his early political career, leading up to a successful campaign for president as a candidate for the newly formed Republican party. [115 minutes]

  • Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided (Pt. 2) (#1308)

    Elected president only to see the nation fracture in two, Lincoln led a confused and frightened people through the most terrible war in their history. At the same time, his own household mirrored the fissures that rent the nation: the great emancipator was married to the daughter of a slave owner from Kentucky. Mary Todd Lincoln was an aristocratic southerner who met Lincoln when he was still a backwoods politician lacking in experience and sophistication. Although she remained fiercely loyal to her husband and the Union cause, two of her brothers fought for the South. Their marriage was long and turbulent, and knew many trials, including the loss of two children. This mini-series weaves together the lives of the two Lincolns, drawing us into their long-vanished world. Lincoln takes office for his first term and the first southern states secede from the Union. The death of the Lincoln's eldest son, combined with Abe's preoccupation with the expanding war, drive Mary to her first breakdown. The Union army suffers staggering defeats, but the episode closes with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. [115 minutes]

  • Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided (Pt.3) (#1309)

    Elected president only to see the nation fracture in two, Lincoln led a confused and frightened people through the most terrible war in their history. At the same time, his own household mirrored the fissures that rent the nation: the great emancipator was married to the daughter of a slave owner from Kentucky. Mary Todd Lincoln was an aristocratic southerner who met Lincoln when he was still a backwoods politician lacking in experience and sophistication. Although she remained fiercely loyal to her husband and the Union cause, two of her brothers fought for the South. Their marriage was long and turbulent, and knew many trials, including the loss of two children. This mini-series weaves together the lives of the two Lincolns, drawing us into their long-vanished world. Opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation and continued defeats of the Union Army threaten Lincoln's reelection, but by the time of the vote the tide--both martial and popular--is turned and Lincoln secures another term in the White House. In a victory speech, Lincoln advocates citizenship for freed black Americans, angering a Confederate sympathizer in the crowd and leading ultimately to his famous assassination in Ford's theater. Following his death, Mary is unable to mourn and the subsequent death of her youngest son leads to her commitment to an asylum. [115 minutes]

  • Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (#1310)

    In 1931, two white women stepped from a box car in Paint Rock, Alabama to make a shocking accusation: they were gang-raped by nine black teenagers on a freight train. This began one of the most significant legal fights of the 20th century. The trial of the nine falsely accused teens would draw North and South into their sharpest conflict since the Civil War, yield two momentous Supreme Court decisions and give birth to the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to its historical significance, the Scottsboro story is a riveting drama about the struggles of nine innocent young men for their lives and a cautionary tale about using human beings as fodder for political causes. [86 minutes]

  • Fatal Flood (#1311)

    In the spring of 1927, after weeks of incessant rains, the Mississippi River went on a rampage from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans, inundating hundreds of towns, killing as many as a thousand people and leaving a million homeless. In Greenville, Mississippi, efforts to contain the river pitted the majority black population against an aristocratic plantation family, the Percys -- and the Percys against themselves. A story of greed, power and race during one of America's greatest natural disasters. [56 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Stephen Foster (#1312)

    Stephen Foster was the first great American songwriter. His melodies are so much a part of American history and culture that most people think they're folk tunes. All in all he composed some 200 songs, including "Oh! Susanna," "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" and "Camptown Races." Though he virtually invented popular music as we recognize it today, Foster's personal life was tragic and contradiction-riddled. His marriage was largely unhappy, he never made much money from his work and he died at the age of 37 a nearly penniless alcoholic on the Bowery in New York. [56 minutes]

  • Woodrow Wilson, Part One: A Passionate Man (#1402)

    An intellectual with unwavering moral principles, Woodrow Wilson became one of America's greatest presidents. Incapacitated by a stroke, Wilson carried out his duties from bed with the help of his wife, Edith, who became the de facto chief executive. Linda Hunt narrates. [86 minutes]

  • Woodrow Wilson, Part Two: The Redemption of the World (#1403)

    An intellectual with unwavering moral principles, Woodrow Wilson became one of America's greatest presidents. Incapacitated by a stroke, Wilson carried out his duties from bed with the help of his wife, Edith, who became the de facto chief executive. [86 minutes]

  • Mount Rushmore (#1404)

    High on a granite cliff in South Dakota's Black Hills tower the huge carved faces of four American presidents. Together they constitute the world's largest sculpture. The massive tableau inspires awe and bemusement. How, and when, was it carved? Who possessed the audacity to create such a gargantuan work? The story of Mount Rushmore's creation is as bizarre and wonderful as the monument itself. It is the tale of a hyperactive, temperamental artist whose talent and determination propelled the project, even as his ego and obsession threatened to tear it apart. It is the story of hucksterism and hyperbole, of a massive public works project in the midst of an economic depression. And it is the story of dozens of ordinary Americans who suddenly found themselves suspended high on a cliff face with drills and hammers as a sculptor they considered insane directed them in the creation of what some would call a monstrosity and others a masterpiece. Narrated by Michael Murphy. [56 minutes]

  • Miss America (#1405)

    Tracking the country's oldest beauty contest -- from its inception in 1921 as a local seaside pageant to its heyday as one of the country's most popular events -- this program paints a picture of an institution that has come to reveal much about a changing nation. The pageant itself is about commercialism and sexual politics, about big business and small towns. But beyond the symbolism lies a human story -- at once moving, inspiring, infuriating, funny and poignant. Using interviews with former contestants and behind-the-scenes footage and photographs, the film reveals why some women took part in the fledgling event and why others shunned it -- how the pageant became a battleground and a barometer of the changing position of women in society. [102 minutes]

  • Zoot Suit Riots (#1406)

    In August 1942, the murder of a young Mexican American ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles. The tensions that had been building up for years between Mexican and white Los Angelenos boiled over. The press claimed that Mexican youth -- known as "zoot-suiters" for the clothes they wore -- were terrorizing the city with a wave of crime. Police fanned out across the city arresting 600 Mexican Americans. Seventeen "zoot-suiters" headed to a trial in which prosecutors had little evidence to present. Nonetheless, guilty verdicts were handed down to all. The tensions the trial inflamed sparked riots between servicemen and the Mexican American community that led to "zoot-suiters" being beaten and stripped of their clothes. Despite vigorous denials from city officials, a citizens' committee concluded the riots had been fueled by racial prejudice and encouraged by sensational news reporting and a discriminatory police department. [56 minutes]

  • Monkey Trial (#1407)

    In 1925, a Tennessee biology teacher named John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution in defiance of state law. His trial became an epic event of the 20th century, a debate over free speech that spiraled into an all-out duel between science and religion. Featuring two of the 20th century's greatest orators, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, the Scopes trial was America's first major media event, with hundreds of reporters and live nationwide radio coverage dispersing the sensational news. Outside the courthouse, a circus atmosphere prevailed as a chimpanzee in a suit and hat vied with fire-and-brimstone preachers for the crowd's attention. "Monkey Trial" explores the dramatic moment when a new fault line opened in society as scientific discoveries began to challenge the literal truth of the Bible. Often humorous and at times frightening, the story of two value systems colliding resonates today. [86 minutes]

  • Public Enemy #1

    As it follows the exploits of John Dillinger--desperado, bank robber, bad man no jail could hold--this program explores how J. Edgar Hoover used the outlaw's celebrity to burnish the reputation of his national law enforcement agency. Keith Carradine narrates. [56 minutes]

  • Ansel Adams (#1409)

    Ric Burns explores the meaning and legacy of the life and work of this eloquent photographer. [86 minutes]

  • A Brilliant Madness (#1410)

    At the age of 30, John Nash, a stunningly original and famously eccentric MIT mathematician, suddenly began claiming that aliens were communicating with him and that he was a special messenger. Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Nash spent the next 30 years in and out of mental hospitals, all but forgotten. During that time, a proof he had written at the age of 20 became a foundation of modern economic theory. In 1994, Nash was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics. The program features interviews with John Nash, his wife, Alicia, his friends and colleagues, and experts in mental illness and Game Theory. [56 minutes]

  • Ulysses S. Grant: The Warrior, (Part 1) (#1411)

    After a series of business failures and an early army career cut short by whiskey, U.S. Grant gets another chance when the Civil War breaks out. His demand for "unconditional surrender" at Fort Donelson earns him a nickname and the Union its first victory. Though he wins again at Shiloh, Grant is called a "butcher" and sidelined when the carnage is revealed. But his daring capture of the Confederate river fortress at Vicksburg changes the course of war, and propels him into a long and bloody campaign against Robert E. Lee, ending in the dramatic surrender at Appomattox. [112 minutes]

  • Ulysses S. Grant: The President, (Part 2) (#1412)

    The greatest Union hero of the Civil War is swept into the White House in 1868. He presides over a tumultuous era, struggling to mend a broken nation and protect freed African Americans as repeated scandals shadow his administration. Returning to private life, he is fleeced by a Wall St. swindler. In a heroic effort to provide for his family, Grant races to finish his memoirs even as he is consumed by throat cancer. Yet at his death in 1885, the largest funeral in NY history proves he is still a hero to a grateful nation. [115 minutes]

  • Jimmy Carter: Jimmy Who? (#1501)

    The former peanut farmer and one- term governor of Georgia captures the White House in 1976. [86 minutes]

  • Jimmy Carter: Hostage - Part 2 (#1502)

    Following his defeat by Ronald Reagan in 1980, Carter becomes a revered peacemaker and humanitarian. [86 minutes]

  • Chicago: City of the Century - Part I: MudHole to Metropolis (#1503)

    Chicago's location at the end of a canal that links the Mississippi to New York makes it attractive to Yankee speculators as well as Irish canal diggers. In just a few decades, the remote fur trading post explodes into the metropolis of the West. Not even the great fire of 1871 can slow the city's development. [86 minutes]

  • Chicago: City of the Century - Part II: The Revolution Has Begun (#1504)

    From the railroads to Marshall Field's department store to Cyrus McCormick's reaper factory to the stockyards, workers struggle for their share of a new industrial capitalism. The Haymarket Affair becomes the most sensational labor incident of the 19th century. [86 minutes]

  • Chicago: City of the Century - Part III: Battle for Chicago (#1505)

    Chicago develops the world's first skyscraper downtown, with a unique American architectural style. In its shadows are gambling, prostitution, corruption, poverty, and disease. In 1893 Chicago's business elite hosts a World's Fair, proudly showing 27 million visitors a glistening, sanitized, city of the future. [86 minutes]

  • The Murder of Emmett Till (#1506)

    In August 1955, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till didn't understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South. Three days later, two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and shot him. Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both quickly acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury. Soon after, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began. Mamie Till returned to Chicago, remarried, taught public school for twenty-four years, and continued to speak publicly about her son's death. [56 minutes]

  • Transcontinental Railroad (#1507)

    On May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah, a boisterous crowd gathered to witness the completion of one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century: the building of the transcontinental railroad. The electrifying moment marked the culmination of sex years of grueling work. A remarkable story of greed, innovation and gritty determination, "Transcontinental Railroad" reveals why the railroad was built and how it would shape the nation. [114 minutes]

  • Partners of the Heart (#1508)

    The improbable alliance of black medical genius Vivien Thomas and white surgeon Alfred Blalock began in Depression-era Nashville. Their work together at Vanderbilt University and later at Johns Hopkins led to one of the century's signal medical breakthroughs: the pioneering of daring heart operations that saved thousands of children afflicted with a congenital heart defect called "blue baby syndrome." Blalock and Thomas went on to train two generations of America's most prominent cardiac surgeons. Morgan Freeman narrates this compelling and heroic tale of two men whose social and cultural differences could not stand in the way of their quest to alleviate human suffering. [56 minutes]

  • The Pill (#1509)

    The birth control pill was developed by two elderly female activists who demanded a contraceptive women could eat like aspirin and who funded the scientific research: a devout Roman Catholic gynecologist who believed a robust sex life made for a good marriage; and a brilliant biologist who bullied a pharmaceutical company into manufacturing the revolutionary contraceptive. Finally, in May 1960, the FDA approved the sale of a pill that arguably would have a greater impact on American culture than any other drug in the nation' s history. [56 minutes]

  • Bataan Rescue (#1512)

    In late 1941, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers fought a desperate battle to defend the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines from the Japanese. When they lost, they were marched to prison camps in sweltering heat through mosquito-infested jungles with little or no food or water. Many thousands died along the way. Three years later, with the war in the Pacific coming to an end, only 500 men in the Cabanatuan camp had survived the brutality of their captors and epidemics of tropical diseases. Fearing the Japanese would murder their captives before the U.S. Army could liberate the camp, the Americans sent an elite Ranger battalion to rescue the prisoners. The rangers sneaked 30 miles behind enemy lines and with the help of courageous Filipino resistance fighters, they mounted an astonishing rescue that was fraught with danger yet ultimately triumphant. [56 minutes]

  • Murder at Harvard (#1513)

    In November 1849, Dr. George Parkman, one of Boston's richest citizens, suddenly disappeared. The physician had last been seen walking towards the Harvard Medical College. Many suspected Parkman had been robbed and murdered by a poor Irish immigrant, but the Harvard Medical School's janitor thought differently. He spent two grueling nights tunneling beneath a basement laboratory looking for clues, and what he discovered horrified Boston and led to one of the most sensational trials in American history. Based on a book by historian Simon Schama, "Murder at Harvard" uses drama and documentary to re-examine this grisly episode and to uncover why, though a guilty verdict was handed down, the case has forever remained unresolved. Schama plays a key role in the film as a "time-traveling" detective who puts himself in the place of the story's central characters. Weighing and sifting the evidence, he probes the lingering mysteries that have puzzled so many for more than 150 years. [56 minutes]

  • The Center of the World: New York (Episode 8) (W.T.) (#1601)

    Ric Burns examines the rise and fall of the World Trade Center, from its conception to its demise. [175 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Reconstruction: The Second Civil War - Part 1: Revolution (#1602)

    Spanning the years from 1863 to 1877, this mini-series tells the story of the tumultuous years after the Civil War during which America grappled with how to rebuild itself, how to successfully bring the South back into the Union and at the same time how the former slaves could be brought into the life of the country. This series interweaves the stories of key political players in Washington (Lincoln, Johnson, Grant) with the stories of ordinary people, black and white, Republican and Democrat, in the North and South, whose lives were caught up in the turbulent struggles of the era. Reconstruction: The Second Civil War - In the tumultuous years after the Civil War (1863-77), America grappled with how to rebuild itself, how to successfully bring the South back into the Union and how to bring former slaves into the life of the country. Dion Graham narrates. [86 minutes]

  • Reconstruction: The Second Civil War - Part 2: Retreat (#1603)

    Spanning the years from 1863 to 1877, this mini-series tells the story of the tumultuous years after the Civil War during which America grappled with how to rebuild itself, how to successfully bring the South back into the Union and at the same time how the former slaves could be brought into the life of the country. This series interweaves the stories of key political players in Washington (Lincoln, Johnson, Grant) with the stories of ordinary people, black and white, Republican and Democrat, in the North and South, whose lives were caught up in the turbulent struggles of the era. Retreat - Radical Reconstruction, the world's first large-scale experiment in interracial democracy, sweeps across the South; white resistance flares into violence. Northern commitment to Reconstruction wanes as the white Southern version of Reconstruction, the "lost cause," captures the Northern imagination. By l877, Reconstruction is over, but it has laid the groundwork, both in legislation and in black memory, for the great Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. [86 minutes]

  • Citizen King (#1604)

    This film explores the last five years in Martin Luther King Jr.'s life by drawing on the personal recollections and eyewitness accounts of friends, movement associates, journalists, law enforcement officers and historians, to illuminate this little-known chapter in the story of America's most important and influential moral leader. [116 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Remember The Alamo (#1605)

    In the early 1830s Texas was about to explode. Although under Mexican rule, the region was home to more than 20,000 U.S. settlers agitated by what they saw as restrictive Mexican policies. Mexican officials, concerned with illegal trading and immigration, were prepared to fight hard to keep the province under their control. With war on the horizon, the Tejanos had to pick a side. Many chose to fight with their Anglo neighbors against an army sent by Mexico City. The conflict pitted brother against brother and devastated the community. The Tejano gamble for a more prosperous future in an independent Texas proved tragic. Following the revolution, the Tejanos were overwhelmed by a surge of Anglo immigration leaving them foreigners in a land they had fought to defend. [56 minutes]

  • Tupperware! (#1606)

    A look at why a plastic food container has become a great product and a cultural icon. [56 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Emma Goldman (#1607)

    Explore the controversial life of the notorious lecturer, fearless writer and merciless publisher. [86 minutes]

  • Patriots Day (#1608)

    Follows a Revolutionary War reenactment as performers plan military strategies and rehearse battles. [56 minutes]

  • Golden Gate Bridge (#1609)

    Explore the building of this spectacular suspension bridge. [56 minutes]

  • RFK (#1701)

    Chronicles the pivotal role Robert Kennedy played in many of the major events of the 1960s. [116 minutes]

  • The Fight (#1702)

    Examine the impact of the historic bout between heavyweight Joe Louis and Germany's Max Schmeling. [86 minutes]

  • Fidel Castro (#1703)

    An intimate and revealing portrait of the resilient leader who brought Cuba to the world stage. [116 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Building The Alaska Highway (#1704)

    In 1942, American soldiers pushed a 1,520-mile road across one of the world's harshest landscapes. [56 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Kinsey (#1705)

    Explore the biologist's achievements collecting data about the sex practices of men and women. [86 minutes]

  • Mary Pickford (#1706)

    The life of this talented performer, creative producer and shrewd businessperson is examined. [86 minutes]

  • The Great Transatlantic Cable (#1707)

    Examines the enormous physical challenges overcome to successfully lay the wire in place in 1866. [56 minutes]

  • The Massie Affair (#1708)

    When a troubled young Hawaiian woman claims she is raped, her mother commits an "honor slaying." [56 minutes]

  • The Fall of Saigon (#1709)

    Follow the Vietnam War and the events leading up to the fall of Saigon in 1975. [56 minutes]

  • The Carter Family: Will The Circle Be Unbroken (#1711)

    Explore the lives of the "first family of country music," whose music solaced the nation. [56 minutes]

  • Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (#1712)

    Follow the bizarre saga from the kidnapping to the conversion to her captor's cause and beyond. [86 minutes]

  • Two Days In October (#1801)

    First person accounts examine a deadly Viet Cong ambush and the student demonstrations in Wisconsin. [86 minutes]

  • Race to the Moon (#1802)

    Recounts the historic journey of the first manned space flight to orbit the moon. [56 minutes]

  • Las Vegas: An Unconventional History - Part 1 (#1803)

    Documents the surprising and endlessly entertaining history of America's most outrageous playground. [84 minutes]

  • Las Vegas: An Unconventional History - Part 2 (#1804)

    Documents the surprising and endlessly entertaining history of America's most outrageous playground. [83 minutes]

  • John and Abigail Adams (#1805)

    Explores the lives of two remarkable people and the tumultuous times through which they lived. [116 minutes]

  • The Nuremberg Trials (#1806)

    Eyewitness accounts recreate the dramatic tribunal that defined trial procedure for state criminals. [56 minutes]

  • Jesse James (#1807)

    Learn the truth about the man behind the legend, who was less heroic than brutal in real life. [56 minutes]

    Watch This Episode Online

  • Hijacked! (#1808)

    Ilan Ziv interviews leaders of the PFLP, whose members hijacked and blew up four planes in 1970. [56 minutes]

  • Eugene O'neill (#1809)

    In fewer than 25 years, this triumphant author he wrote 20 long plays and won four Pulitzer Prizes. [116 minutes]

  • The Boy in the Bubble (#1810)

    David Vetter's story is a tragic tale that pits ambitious doctors against frightened young parents. [56 minutes]

  • The Alaska Pipeline (#1811)

    In the early weeks of 1968, after a decade-long search for oil in Alaska's frozen wilderness, gas burst up out of an exploratory well on the North Slope with such force the crew thought it was about to blow. Geologists soon calculated that as much as ten billion barrels of oil lay below the frozen tundra of Prudhoe Bay-the largest oil find in North America. The pipeline built to bring that oil to market was one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century. For more than three years, workers battled brutal Arctic weather to construct an eight hundred mile pipeline that traversed three mountain ranges, thirty-four rivers, and eight hundred streams, and that withstood earthquakes and subzero temperatures. The men, machines and money the pipeline brought to Alaska would forever transform what had long been regarded as America's last great wilderness. [56 minutes]

  • The Man Behind Hitler (#1813)

    Historical footage and personal diary readings trace the life of the Nazi propaganda mastermind. [86 minutes]

  • The Great Fever (#1905)

    Documents the heroic efforts of a U.S. medical team who proved that mosquitoes spread yellow fever. [56 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • The Gold Rush (#1906)

    Tracks the evolution of this event, through the stories of a small group of diverse characters [116 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • New Orleans (#1909)

    The story of this city, focusing on the century from Reconstruction to school desegregation. [115 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Summer of Love (#1912)

    A portrait of the notorious event that many consider the peak of the 1960s counter-culture movement. [53 minutes]

  • Alexander Hamilton (#1913)

    Explore this underappreciated genius who laid the groundwork for the nation's modern economy. [116 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Oswald's Ghost (#2001)

    A fresh look at Kennedy's assassination, the public's reaction and the government investigations. [86 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Grand Central (#2004)

    This famous New York City terminal is a living monument to the nation's great railway age. [56 minutes]

    Watch This Episode Online

  • Minik, The Lost Eskimo (#2006)

    This look at race and culture traces a boy's life journey, from Greenland to New York and back. [56 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • Walt Whitman (#2008)

    A look at the American writer's life story, from his childhood to his reckless pursuit for fame. [116 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

  • George H.W. Bush - Part 1 (#2009)

    Examines his service in World War II and his early career in Texas, to his days in the Oval Office. [116 minutes]

    Watch This Episode Online

  • George H.W. Bush (Part 2 of 2) (#2010)

    Bush's role as leader of the first Gulf War and his final days as President are examined. [86 minutes]

    Watch Video From This Episode Online

« Upcoming Episodes

« Back to Programs A-Z