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Read the Program Transcript by Segment Topics Shown Below

  Program Introduction


  Closing of the Frontier
  Scientific Racism
  The Children's Bureau
  Recent Social Trends


  The Great Depression
  The Gallup Poll
  World War II
  Suburban Nation
  Sexual Behavior


  The Feminine Mystique
  The Moynihan Report
  Broken Windows
  Middletown IV
  Census 2000



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The First Measured Century on PBS
The Other Way of Looking at American History


Ben in CaliforniaAs Americans reflect on the official end of the twentieth century, we ask, "What happened?" The answers are called "history," and these days, there is more than one way of telling history. Americans have learned about yesteryear in terms of events, politics, personalities, science, inventions, and arts. We saw: Titanic, Lindbergh, Challenger, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, world wars, the Roaring Twenties, hula-hoops, Elvis, Hiroshima, Vietnam, Watergate, the civil rights and feminist movements, the Beatles, Reagan, O.J. and Monica. Some of the best have come from PBS.

In a sense, these are "anecdotes," defined as "short narratives of interesting, amusing, or biographical incidents." But there is another way of answering "What Happened?"-- through the lens of data and measurement, which shows us how the lives of everyday Americans changed. (The plural of anecdote is data.)

Robert and Helen LyndThe three-hour PBS program "The First Measured Century," tells the story of America by the numbers through the eyes of those who did the measuring and the interpreting, often in highly controversial and unusual circumstances. These include George Gallup, Alfred Kinsey, Robert and Helen Lynd (authors of "Middletown,") Daniel P. Moynihan, W.E.B. Dubois, Jane Addams and Julia Lathrop, Frederick Jackson Turner, Franz Boas (who turned back the tide of "scientific racism,") James Q. Wilson (co-author of the "broken windows" theory of crime prevention), Frank Fukuyama, William Julius Wilson, and many others who, for the most part, are unheralded.

We begin our look at social indicators before the time of Gross National Product, public opinion polls, rates of unemployment, out-of-wedlock births, infant deaths and maternal mortality (which was the second leading cause of death among women, beaten out only by tuberculosis.)

We see the United States going from half the size of the four biggest European nations to twice the size of all of them combined. We see a nation of 50 million, taking in 25 million immigrants.

We see the population of cities soar, and then fade, as America becomes the first majority suburban nation. We see a nation with less mobility today than in 1900, the sharp rise and slow fall of violent crime rates, and increasing wealth, with a big argument about how it is shared.

"The First Measured Century" is a fast paced narrative with unique graphics. It's history as you've never seen it, measured. And dramatic.



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