The Better Angels Society is dedicated to continuing the legacy of Ken Burns's films. Our mission is to ensure these historically significant films are completed, broadcast, promoted, and shared in ways that reach and inform as many people as possible through robust educational outreach.
The legacy initiative is also focused on the restoration and preservation of Ken’s work over the last thirty-five years. While all of his films’ content remains, and will continue to remain as relevant today as it was when first broadcast, the master elements (video, film, and sound) in many of his early productions are beginning to deteriorate. We urgently need to restore and preserve these landmark films. In addition, we want to archive unused and precious photos and film footage so they can continue to inspire, educate, and inform future generations.
The Better Angels Society supports lifelong learning through events designed around each film. In addition, we are exploring a range of future outreach and engagement projects, including a possible documentary history film festival, speaker series, and summer institute.
Whether it is the state of race in America today, the timeless issues of war and peace, education, crime and punishment, or the complex issues of poverty and public housing, The Better Angels Society offers unique opportunities for civic discourse. Working together with other civic-minded organizations, production teams, local public television stations, and PBS, we offer our donors the opportunity to underwrite and sponsor much-needed forums across the country.
A key component of continuing Ken’s legacy is to engage and empower the next generation of documentary filmmakers. Through guidance and mentorship, an expanded internship program, and grant awards for start-up and completion of new work by promising filmmakers, The Better Angels Society will help pave the way for the filmmakers of tomorrow.
Ken Burn’s UNUM is a new website that makes it easy for armchair historians, students and digital media consumers to view clips from Ken Burns’s documentaries based on time period or themes ranging from the Civil War to Baseball, the Vietnam War, Jazz or the Brooklyn Bridge. The website presents these clips alongside contemporary voices discussing the themes. For example, noted historian David McCullough discusses the Statue of Liberty's role in history, and radio commentator Glenn Beck talks about the early days of radio and its power to unite and divide the country. "Why entitle this important new digital platform 'Unum?’ “Because,” Ken Burns explains, "we have too much Pluribus and not enough Unum today. Unum knows no political party, class, race, sex, sexual orientation.”