Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln's Journey to Emancipation

Online Site Support Notebook: Films and Videos

Following is a general list of films/videocassettes that might be used with "Forever Free." This is not a comprehensive list, nor is it an ALA-previewed or recommended list. Please preview films for their appropriateness for your audience.

Each library wishing to show films or videos related to "Forever Free" to the public must themselves arrange for public performance rights (PPR)

Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. now offers a Movie Public Performance Site License to libraries on an annual basis. Information is at This is not an endorsement by ALA.

Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)
Raymond Massey as Lincoln and Ruth Gordon as Mary Todd Lincoln in a well-reviewed film version of Robert Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning play covering the period from Lincoln's early years as a Kentucky woodsman until his election to the Presidency in 1860. Massey was nominated for Best Actor for his performance.

Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided (PBS The American Experience, 2001) VHS
This six part program examines the Lincolns' family life and marriage, Abraham
Lincoln's presidency, and the Civil War era. Directed by David Grubin.

Amistad (1997)
Amistad is about a 1839 mutiny aboard a slave ship that is traveling towards the Northeast Coast of America. Much of the story involves a court-room drama about the free-man who led the revolt. Excellent American and British cast. Good reviews.

Andersonville (1996)
Well-reviewed made-for-TV movie directed by John Frankenheimer about the notorious Confederate prisoner of war camp in the Civil War. Won awards for directing and editing.

The Civil War (1990) VHS
Well-known PBS series by Ken Burns traces the course of the U.S. Civil War from the abolitionist movement through all the major battles to the death of
President Lincoln and the beginnings of Reconstruction.

Civil War Films of the Silent Era (2000) DVD and VHS
The three films include a feature, "The Coward" (1915, 76 min.), and two nickelodeon films, "Drummer of the Eighth" (1913, 28 min.) and "Grand-Dad" (1913, 28 min.), made by pioneering producer Thomas H. Ince.

The Civil War Legends: Abraham Lincoln (1989) VHS
This documentary is hosted and narrated by James McPherson, Princeton University historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author. It reveals the complex personality of the man who became our sixteenth President. Part of a series of videos on major personalities of the Civil War period.

The Day Lincoln Was Shot (1998) 
Made for TV movie from the book by Jim Bishop. Mixed reviews--cast of unknowns. Rob Morrow plays John Wilkes Booth.

Friendly Persuasion (1956)
The story of a family of Quakers in Indiana in 1862 caught between their pacifist religious beliefs and loyalty to their country during the Civil War. Strikingly relevant given current world events. With Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, Anthony Perkins. Won many awards, including Palme d’Or at Cannes for director William Wyler.

Gettysburg (1993)
About the Battle of Gettysburg in the summer of 1863, and the strategies, calculations, mistakes and heroism that turned the tide of the Civil War. Based upon the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel by Michael Shara, The Killer Angels. Generally well-reviewed, but it is over four hours long.

Glory (1989)
Story of a volunteer company of African-American soldiers who fought for the Union during the Civil War. Denzel Washington won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Also stars Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman.

The Horse Soldiers (1959)
Directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and William Holden. A Union Cavalry outfit is sent behind Confederate lines to destroy a rail/supply center. The secret plan for the mission is overheard by southern belle Constance Towers, who must then be taken along on the mission. Cast filled with great Hollywood character actors.

Lincoln (1988) VHS
Made for TV movie taken from Gore Vidal’s novel, Lincoln. Sam Waterston as Lincoln, Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Todd Lincoln. Received several directing and acting awards.

The Red Badge of Courage (1951)
From the novel by Stephen Crane, directed by John Huston. A young recruit faces the horrors of the Civil War. Stars Audie Murphy.

Shenandoah (1965)
Charlie Anderson (James Stewart) is a farmer in Shenandoah, Virginia, who finds his family in the middle of the Civil War. He does not want to get involved in the war, but then his youngest boy is taken prisoner by the North.

The Speeches of Abraham Lincoln (1990) VHS
Lincoln’s own words are illustrated with still photographs of Lincoln and his times, newspaper clippings, archival letters, documents, and texts of original speeches. Includes the following speeches: the "House Divided," highlights from the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the Second Inaugural Address, and more. Released in home video January 22, 1992 by Mpi Home Video. More information on

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
Henry Fonda plays Lincoln as a young lawyer before he became known to the nation and the world. Screenplay was nominated for an Oscar.