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

Dear Educator:

In a country full of dynamic changes, at least two things seem constant: our unfailing quest for adventure and the search for our own true selves in the timeless American landscape. Perhaps the defining American experience of the road trip — no matter the destination, the distance or even the purpose — transcends time and generations and reaches down to help form the roots of who we are.

Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip helps to unravel these complex roots as it celebrates America’s first transcontinental road trip at a time when the possibilities for automotive travel were just being realized. When Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson accepted a gentleman’s bet in 1903 and drove from San Francisco to New York City in a Winton touring car, a new kind of travel — destined to change the American landscape — was born. The documentary is a history of cultural development and change as it follows Horatio across the country through many of his adventures and misfortunes.

The educational activities in this section will provide students with hands-on learning tools about an era of distinct cultural transformation in US history. This section contains valuable creative lessons and materials exploring the significance of Jackson’s journey in a historical context.

Horatio’s journey offers students invaluable insights as it allows them to experience the life and times of an early 20th-century traveler who helped shape American traditions. In any social studies education, the partnership of excellent teachers and committed staff is vital, and so too are stimulating resources that make history both real and relevant. For our part, we hope to offer tools for experiential learning and an innovative perspective on American life.

We hope you’ll be able to join us on this incredible journey toward discovery.


Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan