On November 18th, 2011, an Amish teenager in the farmlands of south-central Kentucky died after an SUV accidentally struck his horse-drawn buggy from behind. The buggy did not have an orange reflective safety triangle, which is mandated by Kentucky state law for any slow moving vehicle.
While it is unclear why the boy did not affix a safety triangle to his buggy, members of an Amish sect in western Kentucky have been vocal about their reasons for not using safety triangles. In Graves County, Kentucky just eight weeks before this, local police arrested and briefly jailed eight men -- members of an Amish sect known as the Old Order Swartzentruber -- for not paying court-imposed fines that were issued when they refused to affix orange reflective safety triangles to their buggies. Jacob Gingerich, one of the arrested Amish men, said in response, "if we would go ahead and pay the fine, we would be working against our own religious beliefs."
Clinton is only a week away, and we have some exciting initiatives to announce to get you excited about the premiere. If you haven't yet checked out the Clinton website, do so -- it is filled with articles, biographies, photo galleries, and even a Clinton teacher's guide.
Starting today, you can watch Chapter 1 of Clinton on the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE website, or you can watch the entire first hour on the PBS app, available on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. You can also download the first hour for free on iTunes this week.
Every day this week we will be rolling out exclusive clips from Clinton. This content will be featured on Presidents Collection online video galleries where you can see how presidents throughout history have dealt with issues that continue to dominate the headlines in 2012.
The six exclusive clips will answer the questions:
February 12, 4pm: When is it OK to Lie?
February 13, 4pm: How Influential is a First Lady?
February 14, 4pm: How to Handle a Crisis?
February 15, 4pm: Should the US Police the World?
February 16, 4pm: What about the Economy?
February 17, 4pm: How Can a Party Unite?
Director Barak Goodman's team secured remarkable access to some of the people who knew Clinton best. His team interviewed people from both sides of the story -- a list that includes Kofi Annan, Dee Dee Myers, Ken Starr, Jonathan Alter, Christiane Amanpour, and James Carville.
Every Thursday on Facebook, we offer ten options and ask the question, "Whose interview do you want to see?" Our fans vote, and the following week we publish the transcript they choose.
Between now and the Clinton premiere on February 20, we will be giving away DVDs of Clinton and other presidential biographies from our @AmExperiencePBS Twitter handle to fans who answer trivia questions correctly. View the official giveaway rules here. Clinton giveaways will continue during the broadcast on the nights of February 20 and 21.
Clinton Foursquare Challenge
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE challenges you to check in to locations that are important to the story of Bill Clinton. Check in to his boyhood home in Hot Springs; at Yale Law School where he met Hillary; or at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois where he accepted the democratic presidential nomination in 1996.
Your Photos of Clinton
Share your photos with Clinton on our Flickr page. Include where you were when you met him and what it meant to you. The top five submissions and responses will be featured on the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Facebook page February 21.
During the broadcast of Clinton, join the conversation on Twitter by using hashtag #AmericanExperience. @AmExperiencePBS will be live tweeting both nights of broadcast with additional features and DVD giveaways.
Tory Starr is a Production Assistant for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.
One aspect of my job here at AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is reviewing the licenses for third-party materials used in our films. Many of these licenses come from small museums and historical societies, and I've often wondered what these places were like. So recently I decided to visit the Natick Historical Society to see firsthand what a small local museum has to offer.
Natick, Massachusetts, was established in 1651 by missionary John Eliot as a settlement for Christian Native Americans, so-called "Praying Indians." The museum is located across the street from Eliot Church, the site of the original Meetinghouse built by the Praying Indians. Among the town's early artifacts they have a 1685 edition of the "Eliot Indian Bible" and the original pulpit of Rev. Daniel Takawambpait, Eliot's successor and the first ordained Native American minister.
There are also countless items from other periods of Natick's history, such as old maps and photos, shoemaking patterns and tools (Natick was third in the country for shoe production following the industrial revolution), antique household items (cutlery, scales, teapots, fine china, etc.), high school yearbooks, and a British Red Coat taken from a soldier at the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775. Among the more recent - and unexpected - items on display were two boxes of Flutie Flakes (former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie is from Natick).
I also learned about some other famous people with ties to Natick. Henry Wilson (1812-1875) moved to Natick when he turned 21, became a successful shoemaker, then a U.S. Senator, and finally the 18th Vice President of the U.S., serving under Ulysses S. Grant. The town's prominent Bacon family produced architect Henry Bacon, who designed the Lincoln Memorial. The Historical Society's first president was Horatio Alger Sr., father of prolific author Horatio Alger Jr. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Eliot's Oak" is about the oak tree under which John Eliot preached to the Natives. And Calvin Stowe's childhood in Natick was the inspiration for the novel "Oldtown Folks" by his wife Harriet Beecher Stowe.
It was fascinating to learn so much about Natick's history, and the short time I spent at the museum didn't even begin to scratch the surface. I encourage you all to explore your local historical societies and museums and learn about your local history. You never know what interesting things you might find! Flutie Flakes, anyone?
Susana Fernandes is the Contracts Manager at AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.
Are you getting excited for our upcoming documentary on Clinton? AMERICAN EXPERIENCE certainly is.
Director Barak Goodman's team got remarkable access to some of the people who knew Clinton best, from people who knew him in Arkansas to people who were with him in the White House. These are the people who saw him rise and fall and rise again. Goodman talked to people from both sides of the story - his supporters and detractors. The list includes people like Kofi Annan, Dee Dee Myers, and Ken Starr, and journalists Jonathan Alter, Christiane Amanpour, and James Carville.
The AMERICAN EXPERIENCE web team wants to make some of the transcripts of these original interviews available to you. But whom should we choose? We thought we would let you decide whose interview transcript you would like to read!
Starting today, every Thursday for five weeks we will post the question on our Facebook page:"Whose interview do you want to read?" Below the question we will offer a unique list of 10 of the interviewees, and ask you to place your vote for one of those 10. After 24 hours, we will see whoever has received the most votes on Facebook, and we will publish that person's interview transcript on our website the following week.
Enjoy these exclusive interviews, and don't forget to vote!
The list of participants in the film is also posted on our website.
Tory Starr is a Production Assistant for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.
In the coming weeks you will notice that AMERICAN EXPERIENCE will be taking down some of our programs that are currently streaming online. Why is this? While our goal is to have as many documentaries as possible available for streaming, it is simply not feasible given our budget, which is tighter than ever this year. Third party material (footage and photographs that we did not take for the film) and talent (writers, narrators, musicians) are expensive to clear for streaming, especially for long periods of time.
Typically, new programs are available for a three-year period that begins the day after the initial broadcast date. So, for instance,The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer, which premiered January 26, 2009 and has been streaming online since then will stop streaming this January 26, 2012. The Polio Crusade, The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and A Class Apart will follow in the weeks thereafter. Some programs such as many of our Presidential biographies are available for streaming for longer periods, thanks to additional funding resources such as the National Endowment for the Humanities.
How do we pick which documentaries to offer online? When we reach into our rich archive of films to choose titles for re-broadcast, we assess the costs associated with streaming rights and do everything we can to make those films available online. With a library of nearly 250 programs, we have to be mindful -- we review television ratings, web traffic, and feedback from our fans. So if there is a documentary you are particularly passionate about, we encourage you to let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the comments box below and let us know what you are itching to see.
Here are the program titles scheduled to stop streaming in Winter-Spring 2012:
The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer | January 26, 2012 | Watch online
The Polio Crusade | February 2, 2012 | Watch online
The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln | February 9, 2012 | Watch online
A Class Apart - English | February 23, 2012 | Watch online
A Class Apart - Spanish | February 23, 2012 | Watch online
We Shall Remain: After the Mayflower | April 13, 2012 | Watch online
We Shall Remain: Tecumseh's Vision | April 20, 2012 | Watch online
We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears | April 27, 2012 | Watch online
We Shall Remain: Geronimo | May 4, 2012 | Watch online
We Shall Remain: Wounded Knee | May 11, 2012 | Watch online
The Kennedys | May 18, 2012 | Watch online
You will still be able to explore the rich content on our programs' websites, and you can go to shopPBS.org to order DVDs of your favorite AMERICAN EXPERIENCE programs.
As for this season, we are pleased to tell you that all the new and repeating films on our broadcast schedule will be available online.
Susie Mottau is the Coordinating Producer for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.