American Conversations

American Conversations is a series of informal conversations between the former Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein and people who've shaped the dialogue about the interpretation and use of American heritage. Conversations with David McCullough, Barbara Bush, John Hope Franklin, Ken Burns, Lindy Boggs and Cokie Roberts, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Lonnie Bunch, and Lynne Cheney are available for viewing.

Allen Weinstein, former Archivist of the United States

David McCullough
50th Anniversary of the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

At the Truman Library & Museum in Independence, MO, Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein welcomed historian and author David McCullough. The discussion was in conjunction with the opening of a new exhibition on the American presidency, Treasures of the Presidents.

(American Conversation held June 13, 2007.)

Cokie Roberts

Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation

Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein welcomed Cokie Roberts to discuss her newest book, Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation. Roberts tells the story of remarkable women and their achievements in moving the fledgling nation forward. She reveals the often surprising and compelling stories of determined and passionate women who faced the challenges of the times and laid the groundwork for a better society. The program took place in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building. A book signing followed the program.

(American Conversation held May 7, 2008.)

Former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush

Family and Friends in a Public Life

Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein welcomes former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush in an American Conversation. Since leaving the White House in 1993, Mrs. Bush has continued to serve others with tireless energy and good humor. She has supported many causes and authored several books—including the best-selling Millie’s Book, whose profits benefited the literacy cause. Her most recent book, Reflections, documents her life after the White House.

(American Conversation held January 25, 2008.)

Two Generations of an American Political Family

Cokie Roberts and Lindy Boggs laugh with Allen Weinstein the evening of May 10, 2006, on stage at the National Archives Building. Watch the Video Link to the Roberts-Boggs video (39 min.)

Former Congresswoman Lindy Boggs and her daughter, noted journalist Cokie Roberts, joined Archivist Allen Weinstein for a conversation about their mother/daughter relationship in an influential political family. Mrs. Boggs served nine terms in the House of Representatives—the first woman elected to the House from that state. She was the first woman to chair a national political convention and the first woman to serve as Ambassador to the Vatican. Mrs. Boggs is the author of Washington Through a Purple Veil.

Cokie Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News covering Congress, politics, and public policy. She has won countless journalistic awards and has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. Her books include We Are Our Mothers' Daughters and Founding Mothers.

(American Conversation held May 10, 2006.)

Photo of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Life as First Lady, Senator, and best-selling author

Watch the Video Link to the Clinton video
(57 min.)
Read the Transcript

Senator Clinton was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York in 2000. She serves on a number of committees including Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Senate Armed Services, and Environment and Public Works.

Clinton also chairs the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee. She is the author of several best-selling books including her autobiography, Living History, and It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us

(American Conversation held May 9, 2006.)

Photo of John Hope Franklin JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN
The Historian and the African American Experience

Watch the Video Link to the Franklin video
(62 min.)

Distinguished historian and lifelong civil rights activist Professor John Hope Franklin joined Archivist Allen Weinstein and Dr. Lonnie Bunch, director of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, to discuss his careers as educator, scholar, and activist.

Professor Franklin is the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History and for seven years was professor of legal history in the Law School at Duke University. His numerous publications include The Emancipation Proclamation, Reconstruction after the Civil War, and From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans. In 1990 a collection of essays covering a teaching and writing career of 50 years was published under the title Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938-1988.

Through the years, he has been active in professional and education organizations and has long been recognized as one of the most important scholars of the 20th century.

(American Conversation held March 14, 2006.)

Ken Burns


Watch the Video Link to Ken Burns video
(48 min.)

Discussion of his past work and his current project, The War, a seven-part series examining the ways in which World War II touched the lives of American families.

Emmy Award–winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns joined Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, to discuss his past work and his current project, a series on World War II to be released in 2007.

For more than 20 years, Burns has been making documentary films focusing on American life and culture. Since the Academy Award–nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has directed and produced some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War (1990) and Baseball (1994).

The War, a seven-part series produced by Burns and Lynn Novick, will examine the ways in which the Second World War touched the lives of families throughout America. By focusing on the stories of ordinary people in four quintessentially American towns, the series will portray this enormous worldwide struggle on an intimate, human scale.

(American Conversation held February 9, 2006.)

Link to the Bunch video

Remembrance and Reality: The New African American Museum

Watch the Video Link to the Bunch video (103 min.)

A Talk with Dr. Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture

This Smithsonian Institution museum has been decades in the making and soon will be assigned a location in downtown Washington, DC. "It is a challenge to make sure that this is a museum that allows people to revel in African American culture," Dr. Bunch has noted, "but it [will also be] a museum that says what it means to be an American. Everyone will want to come here because it will help us understand courage and resiliency and other traits." This program is co-sponsored by NARA's Afro-American History Society.

See Event Press Release

(American Conversation held December 13, 2005.)

Link to the Cheney video

A Chronology of Freedom: A Talk with Lynne Cheney about the way Americans have come to perceive their past.

Watch the Video Link to the Cheney video (56 min.)

Read the Transcript

Her recent book, A Time for Freedom: What Happened When in America, is an extension of her longstanding interest in the education of young people in American history.

(American Conversation held November 30, 2005.)