A Midwife’s Tale
Part of the Series: American Experience

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Edison - The Father of Invention
Part of the Series: American Experience
By the time he died in 1931, Thomas Edison was one of the most famous men in the world. The holder of more patents than any other inventor in history, Edison had amassed a fortune and achieved glory as the genius behind such revolutionary inventions as sound recording, motion pictures,…
The Big Burn
Part of the Series: American Experience
In the summer of 1910, hundreds of wildfires raged across the Northern Rockies. By the time it was all over, more than three million acres had burned and at least 78 firefighters were dead. It was the largest fire in American history. "Big Burn" premieres February 3, 2015 on PBS…
Lost in the Grand Canyon
Part of the Series: American Experience
In the spring of 1869, a thirty-five-year-old, one-armed Civil War veteran and self-taught scientist led an expedition down the Colorado River into the last uncharted territory in the United States. Ninety-nine days later, John Wesley Powell emerged from the Grand Canyon after one of the most daring journeys in American…
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring
Part of the Series: American Experience
She was a biologist for the federal government when she first noted the effects of the unregulated use of pesticides and herbicides, especially DDT. Magazines, afraid of losing advertising, refused to publish her articles. When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1963, she was viciously attacked, called "an ignorant and…
The Lobotomist
Part of the Series: American Experience
The lobotomy was hailed by The New York Times as a "surgery of the soul", a landmark medical procedure promising hope to mentally ill patients. Championed by neurologist Walter J. Freeman, this "last resort" caught on fast. A decade later, Freeman was decried as a moral monster and the lobotomy…
The Poisoner's Handbook
Part of the Series: American Experience
In the early 20th century, the average American medicine cabinet was a would-be poisoner's treasure chest, with radioactive radium, thallium, and morphine in everyday products. The pace of industrial innovation increased, but the scientific knowledge to detect and prevent crimes committed with these materials lagged behind until 1918. New York…
Silicon Valley
Part of the Series: American Experience
In 1957, decades before Steve Jobs dreamed up Apple or Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, a group of eight brilliant young men defected from the Shockley Semiconductor Company in order to start their own transistor business. Their leader was 29-year-old Robert Noyce, a physicist with a brilliant mind and the affability…
The Amish: Shunned - Ex-Members of the Amish Community
Part of the Series: American Experience
What is it like to be cut off from your faith and your family? The Amish: Shunned follows seven people who have chosen to leave their closed and tightly-knit communities for the outside world, knowing they can never return. Each has paid deeply for their decision. Estranged from loved ones,…
Last Days in Vietnam
Part of the Series: American Experience
April, 1975. During the chaotic final days of the American involvement in the Vietnam War, as the North Vietnamese Army closed in on Saigon, South Vietnamese resistance crumbled. City after city and village after village fell to the North while the U.S. diplomats and military operatives still in the country…
Eleanor Roosevelt
Part of the Series: American Experience
She was the nation's conscience, a tireless advocate for the disadvantaged, a woman who influenced American social policies for decades and pushed through the first international charter on human rights. Eleanor Roosevelt survived a painful childhood and a difficult marriage to become one of the most admired women in America.…
Scottsboro - An American Tragedy
Part of the Series: American Experience
In 1931, two white women stepped from a box car in Paint Rock, Alabama to make a shocking accusation: they had been raped by nine black teenagers on the train. So began one of the most significant legal fights of the twentieth century. The trial of the nine falsely accused…
Panama Canal
Part of the Series: American Experience
On August 15th, 1914, the Panama Canal opened, connecting the world's two largest oceans and signaling America's emergence as a global superpower. This AMERICAN EXPERIENCE film using an extraordinary archive of photographs and footage, interviews with canal workers and firsthand accounts of life in the Canal Zone, unravels the remarkable…