Documentarian Ken Burns Charts US History in Fascinating Photos

statue of liberty
The Statue of Liberty was unveiled in front of a crowd on October 28, 1886. It became the tallest structure in New York City.

Famous documentarian Ken Burns is exploring the history of the United States through a new book titled, In Our America.

Burns assembled the book of his favorite images that best embody nearly two hundred years of the United States.

“I’ve needed 45 years of telling stories in American history, of diving deep into lives and moments, places and huge events, to accrue the visual vocabulary to embark on this book,” he says.

election results
A massive crowd waiting for the election results in Times Square, November 5, 1940. That night Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated the Republican businessman Wendell Willkie and was reelected for an unprecedented third term in office.
The New York City subway system being constructed in the early 1900s. The image shows Lexington Avenue station.
girls on beach
Two girls standing together on a beach, each with their left foot raised, circa 1897.

The book contains images of the vast natural beauty contained within the United States, as well as the bustling cities and communities.

There are also striking images of war and civil conflict, and of people from all walks of life.

One of the last portraits of Abraham Lincoln, taken on February 5 1865 by Alexander Gardner, 10 weeks before his death.
The fourth company Black Soldiers at Fort Lincoln. The 1863 Militia Act allowed Black men to become part of the army. About 180,000 Black men fought for the Union army during the Civil War.
Children going through Whitman Street dump, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in November 1912.
man playing violin
A blind street musician in West Memphis, Arkansas, 1935.

“Our greatest leaders appear alongside regular folks living their everyday lives,” writes the book’s publisher Knopf.

“The photos talk to one another across boundaries and decades and, taken together, they capture the impossibly rich and diverse perspectives and places that comprise the American experience.”

The Capitol building photographed in 1846 by John Plumbe

Cliff Palace
Mesa Verde Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde national park, Colorado. It has over 150 individual rooms. This picture was taken in the 1890s by Gustaf Nordenskiöld

In Our America is available for purchase now.

Image credits: All photos courtesy of The Library of Congress.