Ken Burns on PBS
Horatio's Drive
About The Film
Behind The Wheel
From Sea to Sea
The Car
For Educators
About The Film

Filmmaker Bios

(L to R) Allen Moore, Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan. Photo by Craig Mellish

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for more than 20 years. Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. Stephen Ambrose, the historian, said of Kenís films, "More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source."

Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip, co-produced with Kenís long-time collaborator Dayton Duncan, documents the often hilarious journey of Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson as he successfully drives an automobile from San Francisco to New York City in 1903. The film will air on PBS on Monday, October 6, 2003, at 9:00 p.m. (check local listings). Last fall, PBS launched KEN BURNS AMERICAN STORIES, a weekly series of some of the directorís most acclaimed films. The series continued this spring with the re-broadcast of episodes from Baseball, JAZZ and several films in their entirety, including The Congress.

Mark Twain, a two-part, four-hour portrait of one of Americaís funniest and most popular writers, which was also co-produced with Dayton Duncan, aired on PBS in January 2002. In January 2001, JAZZ, the third in Kenís trilogy of epic documentaries, which began with The Civil War and continued with Baseball, was broadcast on PBS. Co-produced with Lynn Novick, this 19-hour, 10-part film explored in detail the culture, politics and dreams that gave birth to jazz music, and follow this most American of art forms from its origins in blues and ragtime through swing, bebop and fusion. Jack Newfield of the New York Post said: "JAZZ is the best American documentary film I have ever seen. Period." NBCís Tom Brokaw wrote: "JAZZ is a masterpiece of American television." John Carmen of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "JAZZ informs, astonishes, and entertains. It invites joy, tears, toe-tapping, pride, and shame and maybe an occasional goose bump."

Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, winner of the prestigious Peabody Award, was co-produced with Paul Barnes and aired on PBS in November 1999. This dual biography tells the story of the two women who almost single-handedly created and spearheaded the women's rights movement in America, changing for the better the lives of a majority of American citizens. As Bob Herbert of the New York Times stated: "The latest splendid effort from ... Ken Burns is about two women who barely register in the consciousness of late-20th century America, but whose lives were critically important to the freedoms most of us take for granted." The 2000 Peabody Award citation for the program reads: "Remarkable ... It is an inspiring story of hopes, dashed dreams and dogged determination ... NFOA ... brings heart, soul and considerable poignancy to the stories of these two leaders of the womenís suffrage movement."

Frank Lloyd Wright, co-directed and produced with Lynn Novick, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1998 and aired on PBS in November of that year. The film, which tells the riveting story of Americaís foremost architectural genius is, according to Janet Maslin of the New York Times, a "towering two-and-one-half-hour(s) ... sure to have a high profile because of the turbulent, colorful life of the architect and the austere magnificence of his work, which is thoughtfully assessed." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said the film "...has the unbeatable combination of exceptional interview material and beautiful architectural photography put at the service of an astonishing life." In 1999, it won the Peabody Award.

In November 1997, Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery was released to critical acclaim and garnered the second-highest ratings in PBS history. This four-hour film, co-produced with Dayton Duncan, chronicles the corps journey westward on the first official expedition into uncharted spaces in United States history. Tony Scott of Weekly Variety called the film "...a visually stunning account ... Striking photography, superb editing, informative reportage and little-known anecdotes characterize the latest fine documentary work from Burns," and Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times wrote: "... superb ... a vast landscape that, even on the television screen, underscores the sense of awe reported by Lewis and Clark in their journals."

Thomas Jefferson, a three-hour portrait of our third president, aired in February 1997. This film explores the contradictions in the man who was revered as the author of the most sacred document in American history and condemned as a lifelong owner of slaves. Walter Goodman of the New York Times said: "...Thomas Jefferson is a considerable accomplishment, a thoughtful and affecting portrait of the intellectual who captured the essence of a new nation's hopes in phrases that continue to resound around the world." And George Will, in the Washington Post, said: "...Ken Burns presents a timely corrective, a visually sumptuous and intellectually judicious appraisal of Jefferson."

In the fall of 1996, The West, an eight-part, 12-hour film series on the American west, was released. The West is the story of one of the great crossroads in human history, a place where, tragically and heroically, the best of us met the worst of us and nothing was left unchanged. Ken Burns was executive producer and creative consultant for this highly praised series, directed by Stephen Ives, which won the 1997 Erik Barnouw Prize.

Ken Burns was the director, producer, co-writer, chief cinematographer, music director and executive producer of the PBS series Baseball. Four-and-a-half years in the making and 18 hours in length, this film covered the history of baseball from the 1840s to the present. Through the extensive use of archival photographs and newsreel footage, baseball as a mirror of our larger society was brought to the screen over nine nights during its premiere in September 1994. It became one of the most watched series in PBS history, attracting more than 45 million viewers. David Bianculli of the New York Daily News said, "[Baseball] ... resonates like a Mozart symphony." Richard Zoglin of Time wrote, "Baseball is rich in drama, irresistible as nostalgia, and — an instructive window into our national psychology." Baseball received numerous awards, including an Emmy, the CINE Golden Eagle Award, the Clarion Award and the Television Critics Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Sports and Special Programming.

Ken Burns was the director, producer, co-writer, chief cinematographer, music director and executive producer of the landmark television series The Civil War. This film was the highest rated series in the history of PBS and attracted an audience of 40 million during its premiere in September 1990. The New York Times said that Ken Burns "takes his place as the most accomplished documentary filmmaker of his generation." Tom Shales of the Washington Post said, "This is not just good television, nor even just great television. This is heroic television." Columnist George Will said, "If better use has ever been made of television, I have not seen it and do not expect to see better until Ken Burns turns his prodigious talents to his next project." The series has been honored with more than 40 major film and television awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, Producer of the Year Award from the Producer's Guild, Peopleís Choice Award, Peabody Award, duPont-Columbia Award, D.W. Griffiths Award and the $50,000 Lincoln Prize, among dozens of others.

In 1981, Ken Burns produced and directed the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge. He went on to make several other award-winning films, including The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God; The Statue of Liberty, also nominated for an Oscar; Huey Long, the story of the turbulent southern dictator, which enjoyed a rare theatrical release; The Congress: The History and Promise of Representative Government; Thomas Hart Benton, a portrait of the regionalist artist; and Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio. Ken Burns has also produced and directed three films, William Segal, Vezelay, and In the Market Place, which explore the questions of search and individual identity through the work and teachings of philosopher and painter William Segal.

Ken was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1975 and went on to become one of the co-founders of Florentine Films. He resides in Walpole, New Hampshire.


Dayton Duncan is an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker.

He is the author of eight books. Out West: A Journey Through Lewis & Clark's America chronicles his retracing of the Lewis and Clark trail; it was a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection and finalist for the Western Writers of America's Spur Award. Grass Roots: One Year in the Life of the New Hampshire Presidential Primary is a unique look at presidential politics through the experiences of grassroots volunteers. Miles From Nowhere: In Search of the American Frontier examines the current conditions, history and people of the most sparsely settled counties in the United States. Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, published in November 1997; Mark Twain, published in November 2001; and Horatio's Drive, 2003, are companion books to documentary films he wrote and produced.

Two books for young readers were published in the fall of 1996: People of the West, named a Notable Children's Trade Book for 1996 by the National Council of Social Studies and the Children's Book Council, and The West: An Illustrated History for Children, which was selected by The New Yorker magazine for its short list of the 16 best childrens books of 1996 and won a Western Heritage award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Articles of his have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, American Heritage magazine, The Old Farmer's Almanac and many other publications.

Duncan has also been involved for many years with the work of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. He was a consultant on Burns's award-winning series for public television, The Civil War, Baseball and JAZZ. For a 12-hour series about the history of the American West, broadcast in 1996, Duncan was the co-writer and consulting producer. The series won the Erik Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians.

He is the writer and producer of Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, a four-hour documentary broadcast in November 1997. The film attained the second-highest ratings (following The Civil War) in the history of PBS and won a Western Heritage award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America and a CINE Golden Eagle, as well as many other honors. He is the co-writer and producer of Mark Twain, a four-hour film biography of the great American humorist, which was broadcast on PBS in 2002. His most recent film with Burns is Horatio's Drive, about the first transcontinental automobile trip.

In politics, Duncan served as chief of staff to New Hampshire Gov. Hugh Gallen; deputy national press secretary for Walter Mondale's presidential campaign in 1984; and national press secretary for Michael Dukakis's 1988 presidential campaign. President Clinton appointed him chair of the American Heritage Rivers Advisory Committee and Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt appointed him as a director of the National Park Foundation. He holds honorary doctorates from Franklin Pierce College and Drake University.

Born and raised in Indianola, Iowa, Duncan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in German literature in 1971, and for the last 30 years has lived New Hampshire. He makes his home in the small town of Walpole, New Hampshire, with his wife, Dianne, and their two children.