Search the archive for wisdom from Carol Burnett, Maya Angelou, and many more.

By Caroline Rogers
February 03, 2021
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Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The American Masters series, which has been airing on television since 1986, shares interviews with people who have made their marks on arts and culture in the United States. "But just a fraction of the interviews filmed for American Masters appear in the final films; nearly 96% of the footage never gets released. Now, the American Masters digital archive makes this rich catalog of interviews available to the public," according to PBS. The program completed a digitization in 2016, and now never-before-seen interviews from the American Masters archive—a treasure trove that spans 35 years—are available to explore online.

According to PBS, the American Masters archive includes "over 1,000 hours of footage from more than 1,000 original, never-before-seen, full, raw interviews: a treasure trove of the movers and shakers of American culture, including Maya Angelou, Patti Smith, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Matthew Broderick, Carl Reiner, Joan Rivers, Audra McDonald, Lee Grant, Patricia Bosworth, Sidney Lumet, William Buckley and many others." You can see a trailer for the American Masters episode "Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise" below.

The digitized interviews are accompanied by searchable transcripts to make the archive even more user friendly. "Created as a public research-and-learning tool with an emphasis on usability, discoverability and comprehensive indexing, the American Masters digital archive is a powerful database of American artistic and cultural achievements. Each interview includes searchable, synchronized transcription," PBS shared in a press release. You can find the interviews and searchable transcripts available at pbs.org.

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What are your favorite episodes of American Masters? Which parts of the archive are you looking forward to exploring?