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Filmography - American History, Slavery and Reconstruction: Home

Titles on DVD and streaming video as of August 2013

American History, Slavery and Reconstruction

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of August 2013

Most streaming videos listed are available exclusively to AU students, staff and faculty after an online authentications by AUID#.

This is a selective list of video holdings in the American University Library. Filmographies are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the ALADIN catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible.  All DVDs listed below are located in Media Services on the Lower Level of Bender Library. To search the library’s complete videos holdings (including VHS tapes) search the library catalog at:


The abolitionists. 2013.  1 videodisc (ca. 180 min.). "Radicals. Agitators. Troublemakers. Liberators. Called many names, the abolitionists tore the nation apart in order to create a more perfect union. Men and women, black and white, Northerners and Southerners, poor and wealthy, these passionate anti-slavery activists fought body and soul in the most important civil rights crusade in American history"--Container. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 11020 

Africans in America America's journey through slavery. 2000 2 videodiscs (360 min.). A four part series portraying the struggles of the African people in America. This series exposes the truth through surprising revelations, dramiatic recreations, rare archival photography, riveting first-person accounts and defines the reality of slaver's past through insightful commentary. DVD 5718 

Beloved. 1998 1 videodisc (171 min.). After Paul D. finds his old slave friend Sethe in Ohio and moves in with her and her daughter Denver, a strange girl comes along by the name of "Beloved". Sethe & Denver take her in and then strange things start to happen. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 1747 

The birth of a nation and the Civil War films of D.W. Griffith. 1915.  Griffith masterworks : twenty-three complete films.  2 videodiscs (187 min.). A Civil War spectacular. Portrays life in the South during and after the Civil War as revealed in a story depicting the war itself, the conflict between the defeated Southerners and emancipated renegade Negroes, the despoiling of the South during the carpetbagger period, and the revival of the Southern white man's honor through the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan. DVD 640 

The Civil War. 2002.  5 videodiscs (660 min.). An epic documentary bringing life to America's most destructive - and defining - conflict. Here is the saga of celebrated generals and the ordinary soldiers. A heroic and transcendent president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one again. DVD 4731 – 4735 and  Streaming video.

Digging for slaves the excavation of American slave sites. 1989.  1 videodisc (50 min.). Provides details of excavations of 18th-century slave quarters on Middleburg Plantation near Charleston, S.C., at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson and at Colonial Williamsburg. DVD 9965 and Streaming video. 

Doing as they can. 2006  Who built America?  1 videodisc (25 min.). In this dramatized narrative illustrated with photographs and illustrations from nineteenth century books and periodicals, a fugitive woman slave describes life, work and day-to-day resistance to slavery on a cotton plantation in North Carolina during the 1840s and 1850s. She escapes to the North in the 1850s, only to discover that her former master's legal power extends even to the free city of New York. DVD 7494 

Dr. Toer's amazing magic lantern show. 2006  Who built America?  1 videodisc (21 min.). In this dramatized narrative illustrated with photographs and illustrations from nineteenth century books and periodicals, the struggle to realize the promise of freedom is depicted through the experiences of J.W. Toer, a Baptist minister and ex-slave, traveling the rural South with his traveling picture show in the years following the Civil War. DVD 7496 

Gone with the wind Margaret Mitchell's story of the old South. 1939.  1 videodisc (233 min.). Focuses on the life and loves of the beautiful and selfish Scarlett O'Hara. The story begins on the O'Haras' Georgia plantation of Tara in antebellum days and moves through the Civil War and Reconstruction. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 9

Lincoln. 2013.  1 videodisc (150 min.). A revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President's tumultuous final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 6210 and BLU 6210 

Manderlay. 2006.  1 videodisc (ca. 139 min.). A young girl traveling across 1930's America with her father, discovers a plantation that doesn't know that slavery has been abolished. Can this well-meaning girl and her lawyer father change the minds and hearts of the plantation owners? HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 4147

A nation reborn & a new light. 2010.  1 videodisc (116 min.). A Nation Reborn: As slavery splits the nation, abolitionists and slaveholders find justification in the Bible. Frederick Douglass condemns Christianity; President Lincoln struggles to make sense of the war's carnage and the death of his young son. Lincoln, who previously had favored reason over revelation, embarks on a spiritual journey that transforms his ideas about God and the war's ultimate meaning. A New Light: Isaac Mayer Wise embraces change and establishes Reform Judaism in America. Presbyterian biblical scholar Charles Briggs seeks to wed his evangelical faith with modern biblical scholarship, and is tried for heresy. In the 1925 Scopes trial, Christian fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan faces off against freethinker Clarence Darrow in a battle between scientific and religious truth. DVD 8332 

Prince among slaves.  2008.  1 videodisc (60 min.). In 1788, a slave ship sailed from the Gambia River with hundreds of men, women and children bound in chains. Eight months later, a handful of survivors were sold in Natchez, Mississippi. One of them made an astonishing claim: he was a prince of an African kingdom larger and more developed than the newly formed United States. The true story of an African prince who endured the humiliation of slavery without losing his dignity or hope of freedom. DVD 4049 and Streaming video. 

Race the power of an illusion. 2003.  1 videodisc (168 min.). Part 1 of 3 'Race - The power of an illusion series' "Everyone can tell a Nubian from a Norwegian, so why not divide people into races? 'The difference between us' demonstrates how recent scientific discoveries have toppled the concept of biological race. Much of the program is devoted to understanding why. Looking at skin color differences, disease, human evolution, even genetic traits, we learn there's not one characteristic, one trait, or even a single gene that distinguishes all members of one 'race' from another. One by one, our myths about race - including 'natural' superiority and inferiority - are taken apart.". Part 2 of 3 'Race - The power of an illusion' "Questions the belief that race has always been with us. Ancient peoples stigmatized 'others' based on language, custom and especially religion, but they did not sort people into 'races.' The program traces the race concept to the European conquest of the Americas, including the development of the first slave system where all slaves shared a physical trait - dark skin. Ironically, it wasn't until slavery was challenged on moral grounds that early prejudices - emboldened by the need to defend slavery in a nation that professed a deep belief in freedom - crystallized into a full-blown ideology of white supremacy. By the mid-19th century, race had become the 'commonsense' wisdom of white America, explaining everything from individual behavior to the fate of whole societies. 'The story we tell' reveals the startling story of how social inequalities came to be disguised as 'natural.'. Part 3 of 3 'Race - The power of an illusion' " Explores the history of race perceptions and behaviors towards races in the United States, within the context of recent scientific discoveries which have have toppled the concept of biological race. This segment focuses on how institutions shape and create race, giving different groups vastly unequal life chances. After World War II, whiteness increasingly meant owning a home in the suburbs, aided by discriminatory federal policies. European "ethnics" blended in to reap the advantages of whiteness while African Americans and other nonwhites were locked out. Advances have been made since the Civil Rights Movement but the playing field is still not level. DVD 10988 and 3 Streaming videos.

Reconstruction the second Civil War. 2004.  1 videodisc (180 min.). The story of the tumultuous years after the Civil War during which America grappled with how to rebuild itself, how to successfully bring the South back into the Union and, at the same time, how former slaves could be brought into the life of the country.  DVD 5990

The Rise and fall of Jim Crow. 2004.  1 video file (56 min.). A 4-part series offering the first comprehensive look at race relations in America between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement presenting the context in which the laws of segregation known as the "Jim Crow" system originated and developed. Part 1: As reconstruction ended African Americans' efforts to assert their rights began to be repressed. Whites succeeded in passing laws that segregated and disfranchised African Americans which they enforced with violence. This first episode recounts the black response by documenting the work of early African American civil rights leaders including Booker T. Washington, anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells and others.    DVD 1455 and 4 Streaming videos.

Roots. 2007.  4 videodiscs (573 min.). An adaptation of Alex Haley's Roots, in which he traces his family's history from the mid-18th century when one of his ancestors, Kunta Kinte, was captured and sold into slavery. The series follows the struggle for freedom which began with the young man's abduction and was continued by his descendants.  HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 6121 - 6124

Rough crossings. 2008.  1 videodisc (84 min.). Tells the story of the struggle for freedom by thousands of African-American ex-slaves who fled Southern plantations to fight behind British lines in the American War of Independence. Follows their dream of a journey to freedom in bone-chilling Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone. Features the stories of Englishman John Clarkson, a passionate advocate of the abolition of slavery, and two African men, Thomas Peters and David George, who escaped slavery in a quest for freedom.  DVD 7076

Sankofa. 2003.  1 videodisc (125 min.). The story about the transformation of Mona, a self-possessed African-American woman sent on a spiritual journey in time to experience the pain of slavery and the discovery of her African identity. HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 6078 

Slavery and the making of America. 2004.  4 videodiscs (240 min.). This program examines the history of slavery in the United States and the role it played in shaping the new country's development. DVD 1255 - 1258

Slavery by another name. 2012.  1 videodisc (90 min.). Challenges one of America's most cherished assumptions, the belief that slavery in the U.S. ended with Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, by telling the harrowing story of how, in the South, a new system of involuntary servitude took its place with shocking force.  DVD 10049

Solomon Northup's odyssey twelve years as a slave. 2004.  1 videodisc (117 min.). Based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man from New York who was kidnapped in 1841 and forced into slavery in Louisiana.  HOME USE COLLECTION DVD 2610 and Streaming video.

A son of Africa the slave narrative of Olaudah Equiano. 2004.  1 video file (28 min.). A docudrama based on the book, The interesting narrative of the life of Oloudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vaasa the African, which was the first influential slave autobiography. When it was published in 1789, it fueled a growing anti-slavery movement in the U.S. and England. This production employs dramatic reconstruction, archival material and interviews with scholars. Equiano's narrative begins in the West African village where he was kidnapped into slavery in 1756. He was shipped to a Virginia plantation and then later sold again to a British naval officer. Here he learned to read and write, became a skilled trader, eventually bought his freedom and married into English society where he became a leading abolitionist. Streaming video. 

Thomas Jefferson a view from the mountain. 2004.  1 videodisc (109 min.). Tells the story of one of America's most complex and enduring figures and his personal and public struggle with an issue that would come to define our nation. Also examines the possible relationship between Jefferson and Monticello slave, Sally Hemmings.  DVD 6354 and Streaming video.;565199

Who built America? 2006.  10 videodiscs (300 min.). The programs focus on ordinary nineteenth and twentieth century Americans, working men and women whose actions and beliefs shaped America's development.  DVD 7491 - 7500