Series Blog

John Paul Stapp and the Ghosts that Never Happened


In 1954, Dr. John Paul Stapp--then a brash, celebrity lieutenant-colonel in the United States Air Force--was perusing air crew fatality records when something dawned on him: far more pilots were dying in car crashes on Air Force bases than in airplane crashes. For nearly a decade, Stapp had been conducting exotic and dangerous research into the capacities of human beings to endure extreme dynamic force.

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Coming in 2016


In February and March 2016, American Experience has three new documentaries premiering on PBS. The newest addition to our award-winning Presidents Collection, Murder of a President, premieres on February 2 at 9/8c. The following week, on February 9, our documentary about the infamous 1924 trial of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, The Perfect Crime, will premiere at 9/8c. On March 1 at 9/8c, Space Men dives into the story of the first Americans to explore the outer reaches of our atmosphere -- by balloon. Watch this synopsis with commentary from Executive Producer Mark Samels.


The Front Porch Campaign of 1880


In 1880, the “surprise” presidential nomination of Ohioan James A. Garfield by the Republicans resulted in a campaign that, unlike any before it, regularly brought citizens and the candidate face-to-face. It was conducted on the front porch of Garfield's home.

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An Uncomfortable History: Coming to Terms with the Mine Wars


My Grandmother hated it when her father-in-law came to visit. Frank Keeney usually came by every other weekend or so, travelling by bus from Charleston to Alum Creek. My father tells me he can still remember seeing the bus pull away to reveal his grandfather standing at the bottom of the hill wearing a suit and lighting a cigarette like it was yesterday.

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A Brief History of the State of the Union


Presidents are required by the Constitution to present a State of the Union address to Congress; Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution reads: "He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."