Ken Burns
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Ken Burns

Historian and Film Maker
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.
The National Parks - A Treasure House of Nature's Superlatives

Burns discusses, in this unusually moving and personal lecture, 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. He begins the talk with a 13-minute clip - the intro to The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

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, Baseball and Jazz, Burns engages and celebrates what we share in common. No clips utilized in this presentation.

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' 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. The presentation opens with Norah Jones' “American Anthem” clip (5 min) from The War.

American Lives

This presentation combines the biographies of some of Burns' most fascinating subjects, including Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark and Frank Lloyd Wright. He shares how biography works providing insight into the storytelling process.

Conversation with Ken Burns

This is a less formal, conversational type of event. Burns' addesses questions on all his films, issues in history and contemporary American culture.


In this presentation, Burns takes audiences through the compelling saga of Prohibition's rise and fall that goes far beyond the oft-told tales of gangsters, rum runners, flappers, and speakeasies, to reveal a complicated and divided nation in the throes of momentous transformation. He discusses with audiences the vital questions raised by this era and the 18th Amendment which are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago – about means and ends, individual rights and responsibilities, the proper role of government and finally, who is — and who is not — a real American.

Race in America

For more than 30 years, Burns has been dealing with the theme of race in his uniquely American documentaries. Now, in the age of Obama, he looks back from the perspective of monumental change in the country to reflect where we’ve been. He uses several clips from earlier films in this presentation.

Meet Ken Burns

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 InningHis 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, which tells the story of the two women who almost single-handedly created and spearheaded the women's rights movement in America; Frank Lloyd Wright, the story of America's foremost architectural genius; and Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, which chronicles the first official expedition into uncharted spaces in United States history. Burns was co-producer of Mark Twain, a four-hour portrait of one of America’s funniest and most popular writers. His most recent 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.  A compelling storyteller, Burns speaks on these topics as well as the creative process.

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