A key component of continuing Ken’s legacy is to engage and empower the next generation of documentary filmmakers. The Better Angels Society is committed to paving the way for the filmmakers of tomorrow and honoring the legacy of Ken Burns.

Partnership with National History Day® (NHD)

The Next Generation Angels Awards is an annual prize sponsored by The Better Angels Society in coordination with National History Day®. The award is presented to six middle and high school documentary filmmakers to recognize excellence in well-researched history filmmaking in the model of Ken Burns. Each year, The Better Angels Society celebrates the six student winners with a series of events that will enhance their knowledge and skills, including a mentorship session with Ken Burns and the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film Finalists. Additionally, all Next Generation Angels Award films receive a copyright and will exist in perpetuity in the Library of Congress.

Next Generation Angels Award Educational Materials

In 2022, The Better Angels Society celebrated the work of our award-winning students in a new and enduring way. The 4th Annual Student History Film Festival was screened before live audiences of students and teachers at the Philadelphia Film Center in November. These impressive films are now available for online viewing!

With the guidance and expertise of the Philadelphia Film Society, educational materials are easily accessible for students and teachers year-round through the website linked below, allowing these wonderful student-made films to be enjoyed by anyone at any time.

The curricula provides insight into the documentary-making process, highlighting everything from concept development to archival research, as well as an understanding of the artistic process inherent in filmmaking. These materials have been developed with students in mind, but anyone with an interest in documentary filmmaking will find this information valuable.

To enhance the educational content surrounding the Next Generation Angels Award films, the Philadelphia Film Society provided a limited number of free in-class and virtual workshops using these materials.

2023 Winning Films


Elayna Weintz, Tennessee
Listen, World: How Elsie Robinson Changed American Newspapers
Jay Patel, New York
Pearl Kendrick, The Pioneering Researcher Who Ended a Deadly Plague
Maia Lim Laurie, Singapore
The Papunya Tula Art Movement: Crossing the Frontier from Ephemeral Indigenous Australian Art to Cultural Preservation


Abigail Giroux, Maryland
Wade in the Water: How African Americans Got Back Into the Pool
Shea McGrath, California
Glen Canyon: Frontiers Opened, Paradise Flooded
Jelena Rose Armsworth, Tennessee
“Indian Magna Carta”: The Proclamation of 1763 and the Indigenous People’s Rights Frontier


The events to honor the work of the 2023 Next Generation Angels are:

  • The 5th Annual Student History Documentary Film Festival
  • A Mentorship Conversation with Ken Burns
  • A Mentorship Conversation with the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film Winners

This webpage was created by a National History Day® student, Anika Kapoor, through a youth internship program sponsored by The Better Angels Society.