Series Blog

Gettysburg Address @ 150

Calling all history buffs: We need your help this week -- and your videos! This month marks the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's delivery of the Gettysburg Address. Help us honor the occasion by sending us a video of you, your students, or your child reciting the Address. We need your videos by NEXT WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13!! If your video is selected, it will be one of many featured on the American Experience website and social media sites. 

Here's what we need:

 -- Videos of individuals or groups reciting all or part of the Gettysburg Address. We'd love it if you have the whole Address memorized, but we know that's a tall order. So fee free to stop and start, or to send us a video of you reciting just part of it. 
-- We expect most people will be filming on their smart phones -- that's great! Just be sure that you're in a quiet space where we can clearly hear the audio.
-- Videos should be shot HORIZONTALLY.
-- People on camera should be centered in the frame, fairly close up (from the chest up,) and looking at the camera.
-- Videos should be submitted as .mov files, if possible. (If you don't know what kind of file you have, send it to us anyway! We'll figure it out.)

Submit your video via email to with the subject line Gettysburg Address. In the email, be sure to include your first and last name and the first and last names of anyone who appears in the video. Attach your .mov file to the email.

We can't wait to get your videos! Remember, the deadline is NEXT WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 13!

IMPORTANT! Terms and Conditions:
By submitting your video: (1) You acknowledge and agree that PBS and WGBH may use your video and your name and  likeness in connection with this project, including on their websites, third party sites, and social media; and (2) You represent and warrant that you have obtained permission for such use from everyone featured in your video, and you have read and will abide by PBS's term of use and WGBH's Terms of Use All submissions become the property of WGBH and are not returnable.

Note: American Experience is no longer accepting Gettysburg Address videos, but you can still submit your video to the Ken Burns "Learn the Address" project.

A Retrospective

This fall American Experience is celebrating 25 years on the air. We have celebrated with a staff spirit week (we each dressed up as our favorite American Experience documentary) and we just finished a Best Film Ever bracket (winner: Abraham & Mary Lincoln, though so many people complained that their favorite was not included that we may just have to do another!)

To date, we have produced 287 documentaries, over 399 hours and 428 nights of original television programming. In this 3-minute video retrospective, our longtime editor has collected some of our best, most moving, and most controversial film moments. 

Which is your favorite?

We're officially 25 years old!

Over the past 25 years, American Experience has produced close to 300 films and nearly 400 hours of television. If you were to sit down in front of the television tonight and decided to watch one of our films each night, it would take you nearly a YEAR to consume our entire body of work (probably longer, because we have several five and six-part films)! Which one would you start with first? Which of our 287 films (and counting) do you tell your friends and family they MUST see first? We certainly couldn't choose, but somehow we whittled it down to a much more manageable 16, representing the different genres of films we've produced since 1988. Now YOU can help us determine which AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is the best by voting in our Best of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE bracket. Each round lasts four days, and by October 18, we will have a champion! Vote now!

Emmy Award for Outstanding Research for "Jesse Owens"

We have the pleasure to announce that the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE film "Jesse Owens" has won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Research at the 34th annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards.  

The most famous athlete of his time, Jesse Owens' stunning triumph at the 1936 Olympic Games captivated the world even as it infuriated the Nazis. Despite the racial slurs he endured, Jesse Owens' grace and athleticism rallied crowds across the globe. But whenthe four-time Olympic gold medalist returned home, he could not even ride in the front of a bus. The story of the 22-year-old son of a sharecropper who triumphed over adversity to become a hero and world champion, Jesse Owens is also about the elusive, fleeting quality of fame and the way Americans idolize athletes when they suit our purpose, and forget them once they don't.

"American Experience prides itself on rigorous research for each of our films. We are proud that the production team was recognized with the News and Documentary Emmy Award," said AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Executive Producer Mark Samels. Jesse Owens premiered in May of 2012 and is streaming for free on our website

Congrats to all involved!

How Procrastination Can Lead to a Job...

If you had asked me in 2006 where I saw myself in seven years, I wouldn't have said "working for a television history series". 

In 2006, I was a student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, majoring in nutrition science with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian. That summer, I was taking the first of two Organic Chemistry classes I would have to take to complete my degree. 

During extended periods of procrastination - which were frequent - I would go to the local video rental store and scan the documentary aisle for anything that would further distract me from my studies. One day I came across American Experience's "The Kennedys". I didn't know much about the Kennedy family aside from what was taught in school and what I had read in People Magazine, so I decided to rent it.

I sat through all four hours, riveted by the history of the family and the personal stories told by close friends and colleagues. The use of the family's home movies showed happy, leisurely moments that added a human element to this iconic American family. I also enjoyed watching young JFK trying to make the most of television in outtakes from his 1952 senate campaign commercials. I watched the film a few more times before I returned it and loved it so much that I eventually bought the DVD. 

At the end of that summer, I decided to leave the University of Arizona and take a year off to figure out what I wanted to do. I ended up in Boston, studying film at Suffolk University -- a minor deviation from my original plan! I landed an internship with American Experience, and was hired as a research assistant after I graduated. I have worked for American Experience ever since.

A year ago, our series manager asked me if I would be interested in being the production assistant for a biographical documentary being produced here in our office (most of our films are produced by small outside production companies). He described the details of the job and everything it would entail, and I said "yes." Only later did I think to ask the subject of the biography; it turned out to be an in-depth biography of JFK.

Now I find myself screening footage for our film that was used in "The Kennedys" and smiling when I see familiar shots. I can still remember sitting on my bed, chemistry textbooks strewn around me, eyes glued to the television screen.

 In a way, "The Kennedys" changed my life. That is why it is my favorite American Experience film.

Lauren Noyes is the Production Coordinator for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and is an Associate Producer for our upcoming film "JFK," premiering November 11 & 12 on PBS.