Next Generation Angels Awards Will Recognize Middle and High School Students for Excellence in Historical Filmmaking

COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND—Ken Burns, National History Day® (NHD), and The Better Angels Society announced today their continued partnership to recognize middle and high school students with The Next Generation Angels Awards for excellence in historical filmmaking.

The Next Generation Angels Awards, made possible through the support of The Better Angels Society, were established in 2019 to celebrate annually the six winners in the junior and senior divisions of the individual documentary category of NHD’s National Contest. The awards serve as the youth component of the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, an initiative to support professional filmmakers exploring themes in American history.

The winning films will be selected based on how well students address the 2020 National History Day theme, Breaking Barriers in History. On his website, UNUM, Ken Burns presented clips from his films focused on Breaking Barriers to serve as inspiration for NHD student filmmakers.

“There are moments in time when history feels like it is both lived and observed, that we are conscious of existing at a moment that will clearly be remembered as a defining part of who we are. I applaud all the students who submitted documentaries this year,” said Ken Burns, Filmmaker. “History could never be more important; and those who work to understand the past will certainly help us create a better tomorrow. I’m particularly proud to join The Better Angels Society and National History Day to present this year’s Next Generation Angels Awards. Congratulations.”

“In this year when students’ lives have been turned upside down in so many ways, we are especially proud of all of the young documentarians who have persevered and whose work will be considered for this incredible honor,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “These students have taken on powerful lessons of the past while living through history themselves, and we look forward to celebrating their work with Ken Burns and The Better Angels Society.”

The 2020 Next Generation Angels Awards winners will be announced on Saturday, June 20, during NHD’s National Contest Awards Ceremony to be livestreamed online here. The winning films will be made available on UNUM as well as on the NHD website after the awards ceremony.

About National History Day® (NHD)
NHD is a non-profit organization based in College Park, Maryland, which seeks to improve the teaching and learning of history. The National History Day Contest was established in 1974 and currently engages more than half a million students every year in conducting original research on historical topics of interest. Students present their research as a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or website. Projects compete first at the local and affiliate levels, where the top entries are invited to the National Contest at the University of Maryland at College Park. NHD is sponsored in part by HISTORY®, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, Southwest Airlines, The Better Angels Society, Jacqueline B. Mars, and BBVA. For more information, visit

About 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 Statue of Liberty; Huey Long; Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery; Frank Lloyd Wright; Mark Twain; Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; The War; The National Parks: America’s Best Idea; The Roosevelts: An Intimate History; Jackie Robinson; Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War; The Vietnam War, and, most recently, The Mayo Clinic: Faith - Hope - Science. 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.

About The Better Angels Society
The Better Angels Society is a non-profit 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 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 Society is currently raising funds for films in production and planned 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.

About The Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation
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. The 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.

About the 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

Colleen Kennedy
Communications Director
Phone: 301-405-0536
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