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 will be providing a limited number of free in-class and virtual workshops using these materials.

If you are interested in booking an in-person or virtual workshop for your class or would like to stay up to date on all things NGAA, fill out the form by clicking the link below.

2022 Winning Films


Krin Blegen, Wisconsin
What They Taught Us: How Grassroots Debate and Diplomacy Shaped the Milwaukee Open Housing Movement
Aubrey Grier, Washington
Makah Whaling Rights: A Moral Debate of Cultural Preservation
Lachlan Gebhart, Wyoming
Wolves: Bloodthirsty Menaces or Stewards of the Land?


Maci Hill, Texas
Communist in the Cornfields: Roswell Garst's Citizen Diplomacy
Abigail Peters, Minnesota
Fight for Our Wilderness: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act
Jessie Henderson, Tennessee
More Than Potatoes: Debate and Diplomacy in the Mission of the USS Jamestown


The events to honor the work of the 2022 Next Generation Angels are:

  • The 4th 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.