Ken Burns, Historian and Filmmaker, Receives 2012 Freedom Award

Ken Burns receives the 2012 USCHS Freedom Award

Thursday, September 20th


6:30 – 8:30pm



By invitation only

Cornerstone Members ($100) and above

Program will feature remarks and a Q&A Session with Ken Burns

Reception to Follow

To recognize and honor individuals and organizations who have advanced greater public understanding and appreciation for freedom as represented by the U.S. Capitol and Congress, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society initiated its Freedom Award on September 17, 1993, the eve of the 200th anniversary of the laying of the U.S. Capitol cornerstone by George Washington in 1793. This award, named for the statue that graces the Capitol’s Dome, is presented annually in recognition of the dedication of recipients to freedom, democracy and
representative government.

Ken Burns 2012 USCHS Freedom Award

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for more than 30 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of Burns’s films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” A December 2002 poll conducted by RealScreen magazine listed The Civil War as second only to Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North as the “most influential documentary of all time” and named Burns and Robert Flaherty as the “most influential documentary makers” of all time.

Burns was the director, producer, co-writer, chief cinematographer, music director and executive producer of the landmark television series The Civil War. This film was the highest-rated series in the history of American public television, prior to Baseball, and attracted an audience of 40 million during its premiere in September 1990. The New York Times called it a masterpiece and said that Burns “takes his place as the most accomplished documentary filmmaker of his generation.” Tom Shales of The Washington Post said, “This is not just good television, nor even just great television. This is heroic television.” The columnist George Will said, “If better use has ever been made of television, I have not seen it and do not expect to see better until Ken Burns turns his prodigious talents to his next project.” The series has been honored with more than 40 major film and television awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Producer of the Year Award from the Producer’s Guild, a People’s Choice Award, a Peabody Award, a duPont-Columbia Award, a D.W. Griffiths Award and the $50,000 Lincoln Prize, among dozens of others.

Some of Burns’s other films include, THE DUST BOWL (scheduled to air on PBS in November, 2012), PROHIBITION (2011), THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA (2009), THE WAR (2007), co-directed with Lynn Novick, JAZZ (2001), LEWIS AND CLARK: THE JOURNEY OF THE CORPS OF DISCOVERY (1997), BASEBALL (1994), and THE CONGRESS (1988).

 Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1953. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1975.