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Archive for Behind The Scenes

Remembering John Seigenthaler


At American Experience, we are grateful for Mr. Seigenthaler’s stories, for his time, and for his enduring contribution to this nation. He will be missed.


To Obey or to Stray: That is the Question


The Amish are not a monolithic group. In fact, they live in more than 450 settlements spread across 30 states and one Canadian province. The founders of each of these settlements determine their local Ordnung or set of church rules. Some new settlements became stricter than the communities they left, and others relax the rules. Women’s head coverings and dress styles might change. Maybe gas-powered lawn mowers were not allowed in the home community, but they are allowed in the daughter settlement. 

In “The Amish: Shunned,” diversity is especially noticeable in the contrast between the community where Anna came from and the one where Naomi came from. Anna is from a Swartzentruber group, which is the strictest of the strict. Naomi comes from a more progressive community. Here are some of the differences:


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.


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!


The Making of an AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Film


Just as the weather starts heating up, many offices start slowing down, but not here at AMERICAN EXPERIENCE! With five hours of new programming, including our epic two-part documentary on JFK premiering in the fall, our staff has been hard at work. In June alone we have already had five screenings for various films in different levels of production. While this has become old hat to everyone here on staff, we realize that our viewers may not always be aware of the process our films go through before they air.