Ken Burns: Teaching American History and Culture


Known for his signature style, Ken Burns has been telling America’s stories through his historical documentaries for over thirty years. Burns integrates archival footage and photographs, personal interviews, and the narration of primary source documents.

Look for the latest documentary from Ken Burns and co-director Lynn Novick, The Vietnam War, a ten-part series airing on PBS in September 2017. The documentary will feature archival footage and testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including American veterans who fought in the war and Americans who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians. PBS will air a preview program on Memorial Day.

This collection highlights many of Burns' great works, exploring topics from war to the history of baseball to politics. His films tell the story of people who overcome adversity and have made an impact on our nation.

Use these resources to engage students with different ways to explore key historical events and personal stories that demonstrate how complex and controversial issues impacted our nation, communities, and individuals. These resources engage students in important themes, such as capitalism, civil rights, immigration, war, and international relations. Students can investigate and analyze questions of justice, the ingenuity of the US, and civic responsibility and learn how they affect current events.


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