American Conversations with the Archivist of the United States

The National Archives has produced a series of “American Conversations with the Archivist of the United States,” and has more planned for the future. In these “conversations,” Archivist Allen Weinstein sits down historians, scholars, politicians, First Ladies, and others who have “ shaped the dialogue about the interpretation and use of American heritage.” These talks are free, open to the public, and held in the William G. McGowan Theater in the National Archives building. The most recent conversation was with film producer Ted Leonsis, on March 5, 2008, and followed a screening of his film Nanking, from 2007. The National Archives site describes how the film “ expertly connects archival footage and photos of the events to deeply moving interviews with Chinese survivors, testimonies of former Japanese soldiers, and filmed stage readings of letters and diaries.”

While Allen Weinstein’s talk with Ted Leonsis is not available online, many of the other past conversations are. The videos (require Real Player) of these discussions include a number that may be particularly interesting to those in the history field:

  • John Hope Franklin (Video – Real Player)
    This conversation features historian, and past AHA president, John Hope Franklin discussing with Archivist Allen Weinstein and National Museum of African American History and Culture director Lonnie Bunch “his careers as educator, scholar, and activist.”
  • Ken Burns (Video – Real Player)
    Archivist Allen Weinstein meets with filmmaker Ken Burns to “to discuss his past work and his most recent project, a series on World War II,” made up of seven parts and titled The War.
  • Lonnie Bunch (Video – Real Player)
    Lonnie Bunch, of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, speaks to Archivist Allen Weinstein about the museum he directs and its future location.

To keep up to date on future talks with Allen Weinstein visit the American Conversations site, or check out the Washington, D.C., Area Events page, which includes a number of other projects sponsored by the National Archives. Regular AHA Today readers may also remember a similar conversation series we reported on last year: C-SPAN’s Q&A.

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  1. Larry Cebula

    Thanks for making these available—but why on earth use Realplayer? It is such a god awful and dishonest program. Couldn’t you just put the interviews up in down-loadable formats? Or if you want to avoid that, on Google Video or YouTube?

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