From George Washington to Gerald Ford, the inauguration ceremonies of 38 U.S. Presidents are recalled in artwork, photographs and film clips. Reminiscences of inaugural-day activities are given by Charles Taft, William Howard Taft's son; Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Theodore Roosevelt's daughter; and Elliot Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt's son.
A history of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Complementing photographs of the building and facts about its construction is a tour of the structure. Included: the Rotunda, and the wings housing the chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
"We All Came to America" utilizes vintage photographs, drawings and engravings in an account of the immigrants who arrived in the U.S. during the 18th and 19th centuries. Theodore Bikel is the narrator of the program.
Contributions made by American photographers and filmmakers to historical documentation are examined. Stills dating from the mid-1800s are featured, as well as clips from Robert J. Flaherty's "Moana" (1925) and Frank Capra's series of World War II documentaries "Why We Fight."
The progress of technology between 1793 and 1900 is reflected in inventions submitted to the U.S. Patent Office during those years. This program shows examples of some of the gadgets and machines housed in the Smithsonian Institution and owned by private collectors.
Legends based on characters of America's Old West are assessed through fact and footage in "The Reel West." Vintage stills of the era's personalities test the veracity of Hollywood depictions of shoot-outs between bandits and lawmen.
A look at the Roaring '20s through the eyes of Gloria Swanson, who narrates this program exploring historic and social aspects of the era. Featured is footage of the decade's newsmakers, including Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and President Coolidge.
Events of the '30s are documented Examples of photojournalism, newsreels, radio broadcasts and movies reflect Americans' responses to concerns of the times, including the Depression, economic recovery and German aggression in Europe.
Space-flight pioneer Robert H. Goddard is profiled through excerpts from his diaries and notebooks, home movies, and film clips of early attempts to launch rockets. Goddard's widow Esther and colleagues give their impressions of the physicist's life. Narrated by Esther Goddard and astronaut William Anders.
Women campaign for the right to vote. Recalling the history of the suffrage movement, Jean Stapleton narrates a compilation of cartoons, photographs, newsreel footage and movie clips reflecting opinions ranging from sympathy to ridicule for the suffragettes.
Ossie Davis narrates this look at works produced by black filmmakers between 1915 and 1950. Clips from more than 40 films include performances by Cab Calloway, Paul Robeson, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie.
A look at how filmmaking became a propaganda medium as America prepared to enter World War I. Footage includes the Lusitania leaving New York before the Germans sank her in 1915; D.W. Griffith's "Hearts of the World" (1918); Charlie Chaplin in the war-bonds commercial "Kaiser Bill." Also: an animated short "The Sinking of the Lusitania" (1918).
Cast & Details
Premise: A review of the documentary legacy of the people who made American history. Included: printed materials and film footage.