America’s greatest documentarian, Ken Burns, has finally turned his camera toward two of America’s greatest presidents and their remarkable family. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History is a seven part, fourteen hour long reflection on the Teddy Roosevelt (TR), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), Sara and Eleanor Roosevelt and others of this old, aristocratic clan from the Hudson River Valley who had such a revolutionary impact on US politics.
Burns Roosevelt documentary publicity photo
Lead publicity photo from PBS.org/theroosevelts Source
TR was president during the Progressive Era at the dawn of the 20th century, acting both as a reformer battling Big Business and an ardent imperialist. FDR was president in the darkest hours of the Great Depression and Second World War, and his New Deal gave the country hope and reignited the economy after disastrous shrinkage and mass unemployment under Republican President Herbert Hoover. The Progressives, New Deal and wartime mobilization all brought major expansions of American government, democratic participation, and public investment. Eleanor, an active and outspoken First Lady to FDR, perhaps most clearly embodied the ethical spirit behind Rooseveltian reforms, and she became a hero to American women of the time.
FDR at CCC Camp, Shenandoah Park, 1933
FDR at CCC camp, Shenandoah Park
Photo Credit: Harpers Ferry, National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection
The Roosevelts will air for a week, from Sunday through Saturday, September 14-20, 2014, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET on PBS stations across the country (repeated 10-12 p.m.). Episodes 4 and 5, on September 17th and 18th, are especially important from our point of view, as they deal directly with the New Deal, whose legacy The Living New Deal is busy recovering. It is a great reminder of what American democracy and the American people can achieve under even the direst of circumstances – food for thought in our present difficult times of poor economic performance, vexatious politics and alienation from government.
The official website of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History has all the relevant information about airtimes and a set of Study Guides for further education of interested viewers. PBS stations will stream the series in its entirety after the initial September showing.
Why Don't They Make Democrats Like They Used To?, 2003
Why Don’t They Make Democrats Like They Used To? SourceTime Magazine Cover