American Experience

The BEST episodes of American Experience

Every episode of American Experience ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of American Experience!

Presents an absorbing look at the personalities, events and resources that have had a profound impact on the shaping of America's past and present.

Last Updated: 8/1/2022Network: PBS
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God Bless America and Poland, Too
star
10.00
1 votes

#1 - God Bless America and Poland, Too

Season 3 - Episode 5 - Aired 10/22/1990

Episode focusing on Polish immigration in the 1910s and the contributions of Poles to the United States.

Directors: Marian Marzynski
The Battle Over Citizen Kane
star
10.00
1 votes

#2 - The Battle Over Citizen Kane

Season 8 - Episode 7 - Aired 1/29/1996

Orson Welles' movie stirs the ire of publisher William Randolph Hearst, the man who the film was patterned after.

Directors: Michael Epstein
Secrets of a Master Builder
star
10.00
29 votes

#3 - Secrets of a Master Builder

Season 13 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/30/2000

The contributions of James B. Eads in understanding and altering the great Mississippi River during the second half of the 19th century.

Partners of the Heart
star
10.00
1 votes

#4 - Partners of the Heart

Season 15 - Episode 8 - Aired 2/10/2003

A tale of the partnership between a white doctor and a young African-American in pioneering cardiac surgical procedures during the World War II era.

Directors: Andrea Kalin
Watch Now:Amazon
Buffalo Bill
star
10.00
1 votes

#5 - Buffalo Bill

Season 20 - Episode 13 - Aired 2/25/2008

The varied career of William Cody - from western legend to even greater fame in preserving the culture and mystique of the lifestyle through his "Wild West" shows.

Directors: Rob Rapley
Watch Now:Amazon
We Shall Remain (4): Geronimo
star
10.00
1 votes

#6 - We Shall Remain (4): Geronimo

Season 21 - Episode 8 - Aired 5/4/2009

A portrait of the Chiracahua Apache who was one of the last Native Americans to continue armed resistance in North America.

Directors: Dustinn Craig
Watch Now:Amazon
We Shall Remain (5): Wounded Knee
star
10.00
1 votes

#7 - We Shall Remain (5): Wounded Knee

Season 21 - Episode 9 - Aired 5/11/2009

Rebellious Lakota and allies take up arms in 1973 and force an examination of the failures of the reservation system in the United States.

Directors: Stanley Nelson
Watch Now:Amazon
America 1900 (2): Change Is in the Air
star
10.00
1 votes

#8 - America 1900 (2): Change Is in the Air

Season 11 - Episode 2 - Aired 11/18/1998

An overview of life in the United States at the dawn of the 20th century − unforeseen opportunities and unplanned-for challenges.

Directors: David Grubin
Watch Now:Amazon
The Abolitionists: 1838-1854
star
10.00
2 votes

#9 - The Abolitionists: 1838-1854

Season 25 - Episode 3 - Aired 1/15/2013

See how the activities of the five principals intersect and affect the anti-slavery movement.

Directors: Rob Rapley
Watch Now:Amazon
The Boys of '36
star
10.00
29 votes

#10 - The Boys of '36

Season 28 - Episode 10 - Aired 8/2/2016

A group of working-class boys from the University of Washington, in the United States, surprise a nation when they capture the gold medal in rowing at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin.

Directors: Margaret Grossi
Watch Now:Amazon
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
star
9.88
34 votes

#11 - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Season 26 - Episode 7 - Aired 2/11/2014

Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, better known as Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, form the Wild Bunch gang and pull off the longest string of holdups in history.

Directors: John Maggio
Watch Now:Amazon
The Donner Party
star
9.79
33 votes

#12 - The Donner Party

Season 5 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/28/1992

Tragic tale of families attempting a short-cut passage to California in the 1840s, with narration of their life-and-death struggle taken from their own journals.

Directors: Ric Burns
Watch Now:Amazon
The Amish: Shunned
star
9.78
32 votes

#13 - The Amish: Shunned

Season 26 - Episode 6 - Aired 2/4/2014

Filmed over the course of twelve months, The Amish: Shunned follows seven former members of the Amish community as they reflect on their decisions to leave one of the most closed and tightly-knit communities in the United States. Estranged from family, the ex-Amish find themselves struggling to understand and make their way in modern America. Interwoven through the stories are the voices of Amish men and women who remain staunchly loyal to their traditions and faith. They explain the importance of obedience, the strong ties that bind their communities together, and the pain they endure when a loved one falls away.

Directors: Callie T. Wiser
Watch Now:Amazon
The Civilian Conservation Corps
star
9.77
31 votes

#14 - The Civilian Conservation Corps

Season 22 - Episode 1 - Aired 11/2/2009

FDR establishes a back-to-work program that generates employment and addresses some of the nation's environmental needs during the Great Depression.

Directors: Robert Stone
Watch Now:Amazon
War of the Worlds
star
9.71
38 votes

#15 - War of the Worlds

Season 26 - Episode 1 - Aired 10/29/2013

Shortly after 8 p.m. on October 30th, 1938, the voice of a panicked radio announcer broke in with a news bulletin reporting strange explosions taking place on the planet Mars, followed minutes later by a report that Martians had landed in the tiny town of Grovers Mill, New Jersey. It turned out to be H.G. Wells' classic 'The War of the Worlds', performed by 23-year-old Orson Welles. Although most listeners understood that the program was a radio drama, the next day's headlines reported that thousands of others plunged into panic, convinced that America was under a deadly Martian attack. 75 years after the original radio broadcast, 'American Experience' examines the elements that came together to create one of the biggest mass hysteria events in U.S. history.

Watch Now:Amazon
Henry Ford
star
9.67
6 votes

#16 - Henry Ford

Season 25 - Episode 5 - Aired 1/29/2013

An absorbing life story of a farm boy who rose from obscurity to become the most influential American innovator of the 20th century, Henry Ford offers an incisive look at the birth of the American auto industry with its long history of struggles between labor and management, and a thought-provoking reminder of how Ford's automobile forever changed the way we work, where we live, and our ideas about individuality, freedom, and possibility.

Directors: Sarah Colt
Watch Now:Amazon
Walt Disney (2)
star
9.52
42 votes

#17 - Walt Disney (2)

Season 28 - Episode 2 - Aired 9/15/2015

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE offers an unprecedented look at the life and legacy of one of America’s most enduring and influential storytellers in Walt Disney, a new two-part, four-hour film premiering Monday and Tuesday, September 14-15, 2015, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS

Watch Now:Amazon
The Poisoner's Handbook
star
9.51
35 votes

#18 - The Poisoner's Handbook

Season 26 - Episode 4 - Aired 1/7/2014

The story of New York City's first medical examiner, Charles Norris (1867-1935), and his chief toxicologist, Alexander Gettler (1883-1968), who pioneered the use of forensic science to explain violent and suspicious deaths. Included: remarks from renowned medical examiners Marcella Fierro and Michael Baden; and author Deborah Blum ("The Poisoner's Handbook"). Oliver Platt narrates.

Directors: Rob Rapley
Watch Now:Amazon
JFK: Part 1
star
9.51
35 votes

#19 - JFK: Part 1

Season 26 - Episode 2 - Aired 11/11/2013

JFK’s rise to power. With illuminating interviews from family members, including sister Jean Kennedy Smith, historian Robert Dallek, and author Robert Caro, this episode offers new insight into Kennedy’s early years. John Fitzgerald Kennedy is one of nine children born to one of the wealthiest men in America. Unlike his robust siblings, he is haunted by a mysterious illness. Finally diagnosed with Addison’s disease, he will spend his life in and out of hospitals and in constant pain. Jack Kennedy first bursts onto the national stage as a war hero through his courageous rescue of his PT-109 crewmen. When his older brother, Joe Jr., is killed in the line of duty in 1944, the family’s political hopes shift to Jack. Despite the odds, he wins his Grandfather Fitzgerald’s old Massachusetts congressional seat. With his congressional win, Kennedy rises in power and influence, unseating Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in a surprising victory.

Directors: Susan Bellows
Watch Now:Amazon
1964
star
9.50
38 votes

#20 - 1964

Season 26 - Episode 5 - Aired 1/14/2014

Recalling 1964, a pivotal year in U.S. history. While the Beatles captured the imaginations of the nation's youth, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, unveiled his vision of a "Great Society" and squared off against Barry Goldwater in the presidential election. Also covered: the murders of three Freedom Summer volunteers; and the influence of Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique." Based in part on Jon Margolis' "The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964."

Watch Now:Amazon
Nixon (3): The Fall
star
9.50
2 votes

#21 - Nixon (3): The Fall

Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/15/1990

Chronicle of the 37th President - from his earliest ambitions to his innovative foreign policy and paranoia of perceived rivals.

Watch Now:Amazon
LBJ (2)
star
9.50
2 votes

#22 - LBJ (2)

Season 4 - Episode 2 - Aired 10/1/1991

Lyndon Johnson's ascension to the Presidency and the controversial events of his tenure such as the Great Society and the Vietnam War are chronicled here.

Directors: David Grubin
Watch Now:Amazon
The Rise and Fall of Penn Station
star
9.36
47 votes

#23 - The Rise and Fall of Penn Station

Season 26 - Episode 8 - Aired 2/18/2014

In 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad successfully accomplished the enormous engineering feat of building tunnels under New York City's Hudson and East Rivers, connecting the railroad to New York and New England, knitting together the entire eastern half of the United States. The tunnels terminated in what was one of the greatest architectural achievements of its time, Pennsylvania Station. Penn Station covered nearly eight acres, extended two city blocks, and housed one of the largest public spaces in the world. But just 53 years after the station’s opening, the monumental building that was supposed to last forever, to herald and represent the American Empire, was slated to be destroyed.

Directors: Randall MacLowry
Watch Now:Amazon
Freedom Summer
star
9.36
42 votes

#24 - Freedom Summer

Season 26 - Episode 9 - Aired 6/24/2014

In the summer of 1964, more than 700 students join with organizers and local blacks to canvas for voter registration, create Freedom Schools and establish the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Directors: Stanley Nelson
Watch Now:Amazon
Geronimo and the Apache Resistance
star
9.00
3 votes

#25 - Geronimo and the Apache Resistance

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired 11/22/1988

Account of the famous Native American leader's battle against the US in the American southwest from the viewpoints of historians and modern Apaches.

Directors: Neal Goodwin
Watch Now:iTunes

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