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Program Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film

About This Program

In 2019, the Library of Congress partnered with The Better Angels Society and the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation to establish an annual award recognizing excellence in American history documentary filmmaking in the model of Ken Burns—filmmaking that is painstakingly researched, rich in archival materials, focusing on inclusive American stories.

Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation

The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film is made possible through the incredible generosity of Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine, who had the wisdom and the willingness to see that an understanding of history is critical to understanding our world today. The Lavines recognized that these documentary films may be about the past, but they are the way of the future when it comes to how the next generation of Americans will learn their history.

Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine established the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation to focus a significant portion of their philanthropic efforts toward leveling the playing field for individuals and families. Their Foundation works to address pressing social challenges in the areas of education, community and public service, health and welfare, discrimination and poverty. The Foundation supports the multi-disciplinary efforts of organizations that serve to strengthen society through research, innovation, public policy, direct service and advocacy.

Ken Burns

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for over forty years. Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz; The War; The National Parks: America’s Best Idea; The Roosevelts: An Intimate History; Jackie Robinson; The Vietnam War; and Country Music.

Future film projects include The American Buffalo, Leonardo da Vinci, The American Revolution, Emancipation to Exodus, and LBJ & the Great Society, among others. Ken’s films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including sixteen Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards and two Oscar nominations; and in September of 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Ken was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Better Angels Society

The Better Angels Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating Americans about their history through documentary film. Their mission is to educate, engage and provoke thoughtful discussion among people of every political persuasion and ideology. They work to ensure that historically significant films are completed, broadcast, promoted, and shared in ways that reach and inform as many people as possible through robust educational and civic outreach. The Better Angels Society is currently raising funds for films in production over the next ten years. The Better Angels Society is also working to ensure that the next generation of documentary filmmakers, inspired by Ken Burns and his team, receive the education, mentoring, training, and support they need to continue his legacy.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at; and register creative works of authorship at Copyright promotes creativity, and the U.S. Copyright Office offers many resources to learn about your rights and how to responsibly use the copyright-protected materials of others.

The Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center is a state-of-the-art facility where the Library of Congress acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts, and sound recordings. The Campus has globally unprecedented capabilities and capacities for the preservation of all audiovisual media formats including obsolete formats dating back more than 125 years. In addition to preserving the collections of the Library, the Packard Campus was also designed to provide similar preservation services for other archives and libraries in both the public and private sector. The Packard Campus was constructed through a unique partnership between the Packard Humanities Institute and the Library of Congress. The Packard Institute’s gift to the nation of the finished campus is the largest private-sector donation ever made to the Library of Congress.