Open main menu

Ric Burns (born 1955) is an American documentary filmmaker and writer. He has written, directed and produced historical documentaries since the 1990s, beginning with his collaboration on the celebrated PBS series The Civil War (1990), which he produced with his older brother Ken Burns and wrote with Geoffrey Ward.

Ric Burns
Brian Keane with Director Ric Burns.jpg
Ric Burns (left) with Brian Keane (1995)
Born1955 (age 63–64)
OccupationFilmmaker, writer


Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Burns moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan at an early age, and attended Columbia University and Cambridge University, breaking from his graduate work to join his brother on the production of the Civil War series. Since founding Steeplechase Films in 1989, he has directed several programs for WGBH Boston's American Experience, including Coney Island (1991). He also wrote and directed The Donner Party (1992).

In 1995, Burns wrote, directed, and co-produced The Way West. In April 2002, Burns completed Ansel Adams, a co-production of Steeplechase Films and Sierra Club Productions for American Experience. Since 2018, Burns has served as a trustee of the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, NC.

New York: A Documentary FilmEdit

Burns is probably best known for his series New York: A Documentary Film, which premiered nationally on PBS. The eight-part, seventeen-and-a-half-hour film chronicles the city’s rise from a tiny Dutch trading post through its continuing preeminence as an economic and cultural capital of the world.

The first five episodes of New York were broadcast in November 1999; the sixth and seventh episodes in the fall of 2001; and the eighth episode in September 2003. In 2018, the ninth episode will premiere, chronicling New York since the events of September 11, 2001.[1]

More recent filmsEdit

Burns’s more recently completed projects include We Shall Remain (2009), which tells the story of the life and hardships of Native Americans in the United States. Another, Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World (2010) is the story of U.S. whaling industry and its eventual collapse following World War I.

Selected filmographyEdit


  • The companion book to the Civil War series (with Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns)
  • New York: An Illustrated History (with James Sanders and Lisa Ades)

Selected list of awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ "New York: Episode 9 (Coming Soon)". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Nominees for the 31st Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards" Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Nominees for the 27th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards" Archived 2007-06-15[Date mismatch] at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  4. ^ "GEORGE FOSTER PEABODY AWARD WINNERS" Archived July 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 9 March 2011.

External linksEdit