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American Experience Season 2 Episodes

15 Episodes 1989 - 1990

Episode 1

The Great Air Race of 1924

Tue, Oct 3, 1989 60 mins

Recalling "The Great Air Race of 1924," a trip around the world undertaken by U.S. Army Air Service pilots and their mechanics in single-engine, open-cockpit planes. Narrator: David McCullough.

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Episode 2

Demon Rum

Tue, Oct 10, 1989 60 mins

Recalling the early fervor for and later failure of Prohibition along the Michigan coast during the 1920s. Included: home movies, archival clips and colorful recollections of an era when liquor and money flowed freely.

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Episode 3

Family Gathering

Tue, Oct 17, 1989 60 mins

"A Family Gathering," Lise Yasui's Oscar-nominated short about her Japanese-American roots and the WWII internment of her grandfather. Included: her uncle's legal fight protesting the treatment of Japanese-Americans. Host: David McCullough.

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Episode 4

Ida B. Wells: Passion for Justice

Tue, Oct 24, 1989 60 mins

"Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice" profiles the civil-rights activist (1862-1931), who launched numerous campaigns against racial injustice after the Supreme Court began to overturn decisions that protected blacks. Included: autobiographical readings by Toni Morrison.

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Episode 5

Great War of 1918

Tue, Oct 31, 1989 60 mins

"The Great War---1918" recalls America's military role in the final phase of WWI. Included: trench warfare; the U.S. offensive in France's Meuse-Argonne Valley; and the home front. Narrator: Eric Sevareid.

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Episode 6

Forever Baseball

Tue, Nov 7, 1989 60 mins

A salute to baseball blends archival footage and the comments of fans such as John Updike. Included: clips of Ruth, Cobb, Robinson, Mays, DiMaggio, Mantle, Feller, Paige, Mathewson, Aaron. Writer-narrator: Irv Drasnin.

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Episode 7

Adam Clayton Powell

Tue, Nov 14, 1989 60 mins

The rise and fall of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the flamboyant Harlem minister-turned-Congressman whose achievements were overshadowed by his lifestyle, which brought him controversy and censure.

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Episode 8

Mr. Sears Catalogue

Tue, Nov 21, 1989 60 mins

How "Mr. Sears' Catalogue" helped to "homogenize America" by bringing material goods to the rural U.S. Also: how R.W. Sears started his empire when he found an unclaimed shipment of watches. Host: David McCullough.

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Episode 9

Battle for Wilderness

Tue, Dec 5, 1989 60 mins

"The Battle for Wilderness" examines the historic conflict over the building of a dam in Yosemite National Park, proposed in 1906 after the San Francisco earthquake. Narrated by Hume Cronyn.

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Episode 10

Ballad of the Mountain Man

Tue, Dec 12, 1989 60 mins

Profiling folklorist Bascom Lamar Lunsford (1882-1973), who dragged "folk music out of the valleys and coves and up onto the stages and into the recording studios of America."

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Episode 11

Forbidden City, USA

Tue, Dec 19, 1989 60 mins

"Forbidden City, U.S.A.," a study of a nightclub of the '30s and '40s that featured all Chinese-American performers, who went against the tenets of their culture to go on-stage as singers and dancers. Host: David McCullough.

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Episode 12

Wildcatter: A Story of Texas Oil

Mon, Jan 8, 1990 60 mins

Surveying the work of independent oil men. Included: the "first gusher" in 1901; "Dad" Joiner's 1931 strike in Rusk County; modern-day wildcatters. Host: David McCullough.

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Episode 13

Roots of Resistance: Story of the Underground Railroad

Mon, Jan 15, 1990 60 mins

Archival photos and readings from memoirs punctuate "Roots of Resistance: A Story of the Underground Railroad," the secret network that helped slaves escape to the northern U.S., Mexico and Canada. Narrated by Ruby Dee.

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Episode 14

Yosemite: Fate of Heaven

Mon, Jan 29, 1990 60 mins

Director Jon Else's study of the impact of humans on California's Yosemite Valley. Robert Redford narrates from an account by Lafayette Bunnell, one of the first white men to see the valley in 1851. Also: a talk with naturalist Carl Sharsmith; footage of wildlife.

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Episode 15

God Bless America and Poland Too

Thu, Feb 15, 1990 60 mins

Filmmaker Marian Marzynski records "the solitude and sacrifices" of Polish immigrant Frank Popiolek, who came to the U.S. in 1911. Included: Popiolek's return to Poland, where he is seen as an American success story.

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