Series Blog

TV Presidents: A World of Frank Underwoods and Josiah Bartlets

As primary season continues to offer equal parts drama and suspense - and even a few moments of comic relief - the race for the White House will continue to dominate our airwaves right through to this fall’s general election. But it’s not just in news and public affairs programs where the presidency takes center stage. Television dramas featuring fictional Oval Office power players are looming large on the small screen, too.


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.


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.