The Day Carl Sandburg Died

Full Film

Explore the controversial life and legacy of the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Carl Sandburg through archival footage and interviews with Pete Seeger, the late Studs Terkel and Norman Corwin, family, poets, and scholars.

For much of the 20th century, Carl Sandburg (Jan. 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was synonymous with the American experience, a spokesman on behalf of “the people.” One of the most successful writers in the English language, Sandburg was a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner for his poetry (Cornhuskers, 1918 and Complete Poems, 1950) and part of his six-volume Lincoln biography (Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, 1939). He was also a groundbreaking journalist, folk song collector, children’s storyteller, political organizer/activist, novelist, autobiographer, and captivating performer. Yet, after his death, Sandburg’s literary legacy faded and his poems, once taught in schools across America, were dismissed under the weight of massive critical attack. The new 90-minute documentary American Masters The Day Carl Sandburg Died commemorates the 45th anniversary of his death, provides a dynamic examination of Sandburg’s life, work and controversial legacy from a modern perspective. The film is available on DVD through PBS Distribution.

Production Credits and Funding Print

American Masters The Day Carl Sandburg Died is a production of Bonesteel Films in association with THIRTEEN’s American Masters for WNET. Paul Bonesteel is writer, director and editor. Matthew Gellert is producer. Davis Bates is narrator. Music is by Zoe Keating. Susan Lacy is the series creator and executive producer of American Masters.

American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Jack Rudin, Vital Projects Fund, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers. Additional funding for The Day Carl Sandburg Died is provided by the Illinois Humanities Council, Nebraska Humanities Council, and North Carolina Humanities Council.