Conversation With Ken Burns

Historians in the News
tags: Ken Burns



After the Civil Warbaseball, the national parks and jazz, what drew you to the Roosevelts?

Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt are three of the most consequential people in all of American history. They also have a connection to each other, which people rarely explore. This is a complicated family drama.

How were the three related?

Franklin, a Hyde Park Roosevelt, was the fifth cousin of Theodore, an Oyster Bay Roosevelt. Franklin was also the fifth cousin of his wife, Eleanor, who was the daughter of Theodore's younger brother, Elliott.

What were the differences and similarities?

Theodore was a Republican, Franklin was a Democrat, but what they shared in common was amazing. They were able to overcome adversities in their lives; the childhood asthma of Theodore, the infantile paralysis/polio that Franklin got at age 39. They were both great with people. They both had unbounded optimism and a sense of direction. They were concerned with people less fortunate...





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