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the better angels society H e l p i n g Te l l A m e r i c a ’s S t o r i e s

NEWS&notes “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”—ABRAHAM LINColN

As president and chief executive officer of the Association of Public Television Stations, as well as a member of the board of The Better Angels Society, I have a special appreciation for the work of Ken Burns and for its importance to public television and to the nation we serve. I first encountered Ken in 1988, when I was serving as chairman of the public programs committee of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Ken was completing his masterpiece, The Civil War. With the enthusiastic recommendation of my committee, NEH chairman Lynne V. Cheney awarded Ken what was then (and may still be) the largest grant in the history of the Endowment for the completion of this landmark series. At about the same time, Ken met with President Reagan at the White House to brief the President on the

Civil War project. The President was intrigued, and he told Ken he had never felt so close to the history of his country as when, as a small child growing up in Dixon, Illinois, he watched veterans of the Civil War march in Dixon’s annual Fourth of July parade. The President said he had been concerned for most of his adult life that we were losing our national memory, and he thanked Ken for preserving it, through The Civil War series and the other documentaries Ken had already produced. President Reagan was also curious about how Ken’s films were financed, and when Ken told him it was through a combination of government and private funds, the President grabbed him by the shoulders and exclaimed: “That’s exactly the way public television ought to be done in

this country. The government provides the spark, and the private sector does the rest.” Flash forward 25 years, and when Ken and I recounted this story for some of the most conservative Members of the US House of Representatives, they were pleasantly surprised to hear that their hero Ronald Reagan had blessed the work of public broadcasting and the public-private partnership on which it is founded. Keeping that partnership alive and well is the purpose of The Better Angels Society. Every time we recruit a new contributor to the work of Ken Burns, we strengthen the public-private partnership that sustains his mission as “preserver of the national memory,” and we keep faith with the bipartisan vision for public broadcasting that unites Presidents and Congresses going back to the Eisenhower continued…

the better angels society • Spring 2013 • Issue 2

Director’s Note By Kim Klein

continued from page 1… I’m thrilled to invite you to The Better Angels Society’s first annual gathering beginning on the evening of June 17th in Washington. I hope you will join our board of directors, donors, partners, friends and special guests for the wonderful events detailed below. On the evening of June 17th, the 41st anniversary of the Watergate break-in, we’ll be joined by journalist, editor and historian Bob Woodward for a talk about Watergate’s significance in American history. He and Ken Burns will discuss the evolution of reporting since that time, our perspectives on Watergate 41 years later, and how a written description of an event differs from one captured on film. They’ll touch on the importance of learning about the past and the fact that history is indeed our best teacher. Bob Woodward was a young reporter at The Washington Post in 1972 when he was teamed up with Carl Bernstein to cover a local burglary at an office complex. Gene Roberts, former managing editor of The New York Times, has called the work of Woodward and Bernstein “maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time.” The discussion between Bob Woodward and Bob Woodward. Ken Burns should not be missed. Photo: Jim Wallace (Smithsonian Institution). On the afternoon of June 18th at the historic Willard Hotel, join us for Behind the Scenes with Ken Burns and colleagues. Filmmakers, producers and writers will share highlights of the upcoming projects supported by members of The Better Angels Society. See a clip of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014) and hear a progress report on the major series Vietnam (2016), as well as Jackie Robinson (2015) and Country Music (2018). George Will. Later that evening at the National Archives, we’ll gather Photo: Scott Ableman. for a reception in the lobby of The William G. McGowan Theater before hearing columnist, political philosopher and baseball fan George Will discuss the importance of history. Dinner will follow in the magnificent Rotunda Galleries. To close our gathering, on the morning of June 19th we’ll meet for a private tour of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with filmmakers Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and a surprise guest. We’ve carefully planned these exciting events to give you a taste of what The Better Angels Society is all about and to introduce you to the many wonderful people already involved in our mission and those with an interest in our future. I hope you will join us! Please RSVP by calling 413.341.3580 or emailing Our friends at the Courtyard Washington Embassy Row have provided a group rate of $229 per night if reserved by May 31st. Call 1.888.236.2427 and ask for The Better Angels Society June room block.

Administration and forward through the Obama Administration. It is these contributions that make public television truly “public”—not only through federal appropriations but through private donations from corporations, foundations, and individuals who understand the need for a great country to understand its history, its culture, its traditions, its capacity to overcome challenges, and the darkness and light that give our American story its fascinating drama and its ultimate glory. Now public television is able not only to broadcast all of Ken’s films to a national audience on television, but also to translate his work into standards-based, curriculum-aligned digital learning tools in K-12 classrooms and home school environments across the country through PBS Learning Media. This new capability ensures that Ken’s work will live forever, will teach constantly, and will be a national treasure as long as our nation endures. This extraordinary new educational outreach makes contributions to Ken’s work through The Better Angels Society even more compelling, because it makes these investments much more long-lasting and far-reaching than even the most celebrated triumph on television alone. There is a saying, “When we are generous, we affect eternity. We can never tell where our influence stops.” This is truer now than ever before, and those who contribute to The Better Angels Society can have great confidence in the fact that the extraordinary works of Ken Burns will have a powerful and positive influence on the American people for generations to come.

patrick butler is a member of The Better Angels Society Board of Directors.

the better angels society

Members of The Better Angels Society have proudly supported: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014) chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. This film marks the first time in a major documentary television series that their individual stories have been interwoven into a single narrative. This seven-part, fourteen-hour film follows the Roosevelts for more than a century, from Theodore’s birth in 1858 to Eleanor’s death in 1962. It is a story of their political genius and commitment to duty, but it is also an intimate human story about love, betrayal, family loyalty, personal courage and the conquest of fear. The film was directed by Ken Burns, written by his long-time collaborator Geoffrey C. Ward and produced by Burns, Paul Barnes and Pam Tubridy Baucom. Legendary actress Meryl Streep portrays Eleanor Roosevelt in readings from her personal letters and writings. Joining Streep are Paul Giamatti, as the voice of Theodore Roosevelt, and Edward Herrmann—two-time Emmy Award-nominee for past performances as Franklin Roosevelt—as the voice of FDR. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History is supported in part by Jessica & John Fullerton, Perry & Donna Golkin Family Foundation, Tom & Bonnie McCloskey, Joan Wellhouse Newton, and The Pfeil Foundation: David, Mindy, Robert & Daniel Pfeil.

The Roosevelts. Photos courtesy of: (left) Theodore roosevelt collection, houghton Library, Harvard University. (middle & right) Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.

Jackie Robinson (2015) will tell the story of his birth in segregated rural Georgia to his migration as a child to California, where he lettered in four sports at UCLA and met his future wife, Rachel, through his days as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Second World War ending with his court-martial for refusing to move to the back of a military bus. It will of course tell the heroic story of how Robinson, at great risk to his own well-being, agreed to join the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first African American in the modern baseball era to do so, turning his cheek against the racial slights, threats and abuse he would face each day. The film will showcase his brilliant and exhilarating play on the field, which helped bring Brooklyn a long-awaited World Series championship in 1955. Jackie Robinson will also trace Robinson’s place as a leader and icon of the civil rights movement, pioneering entrepreneur, and devoted husband and family man whose exemplary life and aspirational message of equality continues to inspire generations of Americans. Jackie Robinson is supported in part by Ray & Barbara Dalio and Jessica & John Fullerton.

Jackie Robinson. Photo: National Baseball Library, Cooperstown, NY.

Vietnam (2016) is a fourteen to sixteen-hour documentary film series on the history and meaning of the Vietnam War, created by Ken Burns and his long-time directing partner Lynn Novick. A fitting sequel to Burns’s and Novick’s acclaimed series The War (2007), Vietnam is being written by Geoffrey C. Ward and produced by Sarah Botstein, Burns and Novick. A chronological, comprehensive exploration of what has been called “war of lost illusions,” Vietnam will intertwine the military, political, cultural, social and human dimensions of the epic tragedy that took the lives of 58,000 Americans and as many as 3,000,000 Vietnamese, polarized American society as nothing has since the Civil War, challenged our faith in our leaders and many of our most respected institutions, and called our belief in our own exceptionalism into question. The series will be structured around the intensely intimate and revelatory testimony of nearly 100 individuals who bear witness to the human experience of the war from the “bottom up” as well as the “top down,” Americans who fought in the war and those who fought against it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both sides. With unprecedented access to witnesses, and public and private archives in Vietnam, Burns and Novick will tell the story of this enormously complex conflict as it has never before been told on television. Vietnam is supported in part by The Roger & Rosemary Enrico Foundation, Jessica & John Fullerton, The Lavender Butterfly Fund, Jonathan & Jeannie Lavine, The Lynch Foundation, The Montrone Family and The Penates Foundation, and Barbara K. & Cyrus B. Sweet III, and two anonymous donors.

A soldier of the U.S. 1st Cavalry rushes to pick up an American body, as a waiting helicopter prepares to take off under heavy fire. The Battle of Ia Drang. November 15, 1965. Photo: Joseph L. Galloway.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014)

Vietnam (2016)

for more information

Fully Funded

Fully Funded

The Address (2014)

Country Music (2018)

Budget $1.5 million. To be raised $350,000.

Budget $20.1 million. To be raised $5.3 million.

on becoming a member of The Better Angels Society please contact Kim Klein at 413.341.3580 or kklein@

Jackie Robinson (2015)

Hemingway (2019)

Budget $7 million. To be raised $350,000.

Budget $8 million. To be raised $5.5 million.

Spring 2013 • Issue 1

The Address

Photo: Lindsay Taylor Jackson


n November 19, 1863— exactly 150 years ago—Abraham Lincoln traveled to the now quiet battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to dedicate a cemetery to the Union dead who had perished there the previous July in the greatest battle ever fought on American soil. He was not the featured speaker; that task fell to the noted orator Edward Everett, who spoke for more than two hours. The President spoke just two minutes. He started off by reminding his audience that it had been only 87 years since the founding of the Republic, and then he went on to embolden the Union cause with some of the most stirring words ever spoken, perhaps the greatest speech ever given in the history of the United States. When the first anniversary of 9/11 took place, the only English words spoken that day, besides the desperately sad list of the names of the dead, was Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. At the tiny Greenwood School in the small New England town of Putney, Vermont, its roughly 50 students, boys from the ages of 11 to 16, are asked each year to memorize the Gettysburg Address beginning in the fall, to be performed at a ceremony close to Lincoln’s birthday

the better angels society 

A new film proposal from Ken Burns

in mid-February. This would be a daunting assignment for any student, indeed for anyone in today’s media culture, but the students at The Greenwood School all suffer from severe learning disabilities—they are often severely dyslexic, have some form of ADHD and other limiting diagnoses that have made their personal, academic and social progress extremely challenging. Nevertheless, The Greenwood School has developed a worldwide reputation as an educational institution that not only attempts to treat these disabilities, but also feeds the latent potential each boy innately possesses, talents almost always hidden from other schools and the boys’ own families. A hugely important part of the curriculum and the symbolism of each school year is the assignment, practice and final public recitation of the Gettysburg Address. The ceremony is moving, dramatic, compelling and represents, in another unexpected way, what Lincoln himself had hoped for when he first delivered his celebrated Address: “a new birth of freedom.” We propose to produce a 90-minute to two-hour feature length documentary on this extraordinary school and the students’ efforts to memorize and memorialize the Gettysburg Address. We embedded ourselves during this last fall and winter at The Greenwood School with a three-person, two-camera crew for nearly three months, recording the assignment, the arduous practice, as well as the inner life of the school—in classes, on the playing fields, at meals, and in the dorms. We were privileged to see and record the boys at their most unguarded moments; as they got used to and forgot our cameras,

they revealed to us their struggles, the intense bonds they shared, the inevitable tensions, the tragedies and triumphs of boys striving on the margins of our educational system. Not all the boys make it to the final evening; for intensely personal and familial reasons some wash out and leave the school. Some others don’t qualify for the ceremony, but the 34 who did represent an inspiring combination of perseverance, dedication and effort. (Many suffer from intense anxieties and other issues with “executive function,” which makes the act of merely speaking in public an extraordinary accomplishment.) It is this drama that our cameras have captured, getting to know personally and intimately dozens of the boys, who have in turn rewarded us with unparalled access to their lives, their sufferings, and their triumphs. Throughout the film we will continually ground this contemporary story with the history, context and importance of the Gettysburg Address. In the end, memorizing and publicly delivering Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is the seemingly simple exercise through which they learn, grow and aspire. As flies on the wall, we—the filmmakers and the audience—will have our faith in words, eloquence and the human spirit restored. This film is a project of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, who will serve as director and coproducer. Chris Darling is the coproducer. The film has been shot principally by David Lovejoy and Lindsay Jackson, who have so far donated their talents and time to this project. During the final evening’s performances, they were joined by several other cinematographers, who

[ Do no r sp otl ig h t ]

The Ly nch Foundation also donated their services. The film will be edited by Craig Mellish, who has worked on many distinguished Florentine Films productions over the last 15 years. We anticipate a vigorous schedule of film festivals, a limited theatrical release, and then a national broadcast on PBS. Our educational outreach plans are most ambitious. We will contact, through their schools and history classes, every student between the ages of 11 and 15 in the United States and ask them to memorize the Gettysburg Address. They will then upload to our web site videos of their performances. We will judge the best of these, hoping the “winners” will be acknowledged by the President and the Secretary of Education at a ceremony at the White House. Our goal is to have as many students as possible, across the country, participate.

Geo Gould in Jane Rawley’s tutorial class. Photo: Lindsay Taylor Jackson

The budget is $1.5 million, with $350,000 to be raised. (Budget details are available upon request.) Please contact Ken Burns and/or Kim Klein.

for more information on becoming a member of The Better Angels Society please contact Kim Klein at 413.341.3580 or

Spring 2013 • Issue 2 

For the last quarter-century, The Lynch Foundation has focused its efforts on assisting educational and cultural programs, as well as on historical preservation. When Carolyn Lynch and Ken Burns met in 2009, it seemed only a matter of time before the Foundation would pledge support to his work through The Better Angels Society. Carolyn and Ken were both receiving honorary degrees from Boston College, and the two immediately connected about their shared passion for history and education, as well as Carolyn’s (and her husband Peter’s) love for movies. When Ken approached The Lynch Foundation in 2011 to support the documentary Vietnam, along with the Ken Burns Digital Library and Mobile Classroom, The Lynch Foundation thought it was an ideal match. The initiatives would support the Foundation’s focus, highlighting important historical events and providing educational and cultural opportunities. That was confirmed when Carolyn, Trustee Nancy Coolidge and Executive Director Katie Everett visited Florentine Films in Walpole, N.H., and saw screenings of the upcoming films The Dust Bowl and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. They were moved by both and saw the impact that these, and other films, could deliver. Through the years, The Lynch Foundation has assisted organizations because of their missions, as well as their people—from leaders down through the entire staff. Carolyn and Peter believe in people who through their vision and dedication can impact so many. Ken Burns and the Florentine Films staff certainly embody that. The Foundation recognized the importance and impact of these projects and approved a three-year grant totaling $750,000.

In supporting Vietnam, The Lynch Foundation believes that Burns’s comprehensive documentary has the potential to reach and educate millions of people about what is arguably one of the most significant events in the second half of the 20th century. In supporting The Digital Library and Mobile Classroom, The Lynch Foundation sees tremendous educational opportunities to deliver the work of Ken Burns to a new, 21st century generation of students and teachers. The Foundation continues to emphasize the integration of technology in the classroom through various initiatives. Teachers are continually seeking compelling, reliable primary sources and materials that can deepen and enliven the classroom experience; for years they have relied on Ken Burns’s films to bring history to life for their students. The new aggregated Ken Burns website will use the latest technology to give teachers far greater and easier access to a treasure trove of supplemental material, enabling them to better educate and engage their students. The Lynch Foundation views its philanthropic efforts as an investment, choosing charities with innovative ideas, strong leadership and the ability to multiply its impact. The Better Angels Society, with its support of film, history and education, has proven to be just such an organization. On behalf of The Lynch Foundation, I want to add that we are so thrilled to be part of their mission. We consider it a special opportunity to be involved in the creation of content that informs, educates and engages so many.

Carolyn and Peter Lynch are the President and Treasurer, respectively, of The Lynch Foundation.

Honor Roll of Donors Everyone can make a difference. The Better Angels Society is comprised of individuals with an interest in preserving American history and introducing that history to current and future generations. Donor support is provided specifically to documentary films and their educational outreach materials, as well as support of conversations on civil discourse.

Patricia Jehle & James Reidy James C. Langdon, Jr.

 The Lavender Butterfly Fund

 Jonathan & Jeannie Lavine Sherry & Alan Leventhal Family Foundation

 Adam & Melony Lewis William & Mickey Lively

We are thankful to the following members for their support.

Charles & Polly Longsworth 

 The Lynch Foundation

 Tom & Bonnie McCloskey

 Cappy & Janie McGarr

Ken & Carol Adelman

Lenny & Christine Mendonca

Barnard/Fain Foundation

The Montrone Family and The Penates Foundation

Pam & Jim Baucom

Diane Morris

Amy Margerum & Gilchrist B. Berg

Joan Wellhouse Newton 

Bernstein Family Foundation, Washington, D.C.

Lynette & Luat Nguyen

Bezos Family Foundation

Bill & Susan Oberndorf Foundation

Diane & Dennis Blair

Peter B. Orthwein

Talmage & Claire Boston

Mauree Jane & Mark Perry

Diane & Hal Brierley

 Suzanne & Nord Brue

The Pfeil Foundation, David, Mindy, Robert & Daniel Pfeil

Tracy & Frank Collins

Ernest Pomerleau

Ed & Nancy Colodny

Sharon and John D. Rockefeller IV

The Crown Family

Segal Family Foundation

Ray & Barbara Dalio

Fred & Donna Seigel

Tom & Leslie DeRosa

Stephen M. Silberstein

The Roger & Rosemary Enrico Foundation

Mr. & Mrs. Craig Stapleton

The Fascitelli Family Foundation

Robert K. Steel Family Foundation

Jessica & John Fullerton

Bobby & Polly Stein

Perry & Donna Golkin Family Foundation

Suffolk Construction’s Red & Blue Foundation, Inc.

Gail Gordon

Barbara K. & Cyrus B. Sweet III

Beverly, Robert, Gretchen, Gina, Amanda, Allison & Gregory Grappone 

Jack C. Taylor

The Greenwald Foundation 

and three anonymous donors

Judy & Josh Weston

Susan & Peter Gummeson Dana & Karol Hamel, D.A. Hamel Family Charitable Trust 
 Sally & Steve Hansen

 David E. Hills

 Mary Anne Hyde

 Robert A. Innamorati

the better angels society 

Memorial Gifts

In Memory of Nancy Kaminsky

for more information about becoming a member of The Better Angels Society, contact Kim Klein at 413.341.3580 or visit

Donors listed above as of 4.8.13.






[1] Carolyn & Peter Lynch. The Lynch Foundation, Boston, MA. [2] Producers Ken Burns, Pam Baucom & Paul Barnes at The Roosevelts wrap party. Photo: Evan Barlow. [3] All In at The Greenwood School Photo: Lindsay Taylor Jackson. [4] Production still from Vietnam, New York City, December 5, 2011. Photo: Christopher loren ewers. [5] The Greenwood School, Putney, VT. Photo: Dave Lovejoy.

Spring 2013 • Issue 2

The Better Angels Society

PO Box 60067 Florence, MA 01062


Board of Directors Ken Adelman David Blistein Talmage Boston Patrick Butler John Fullerton William Lively Cappy McGarr Paul Montrone Rebecca Nordstrom Laura Roosevelt Jason Schlesinger Bobby Stein Ron Sullivan Executive Director Kim Klein EDITED BY Kim Klein designed BY Lilly Pereira

You’re Invited First Annual Gathering of

The Better Angels Society June 17–19, 2013 in Washington Join us for a conversation with Bob Woodward on the 41st anniversary of the Watergate break-in, go Behind the Scenes with Ken Burns and colleagues as they share highlights of upcoming films, enjoy an evening at the National Archives with columnist, political philosopher and baseball fan George Will, and take a private tour of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with filmmakers Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and a special guest. For more information about these events, please call 413.341.3580 or email

Spring 2013 Newsletter