Films and Videos

Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War

Site Support Notebook

Following is a general list of films/videocassettes that might be used with “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War.”
This is not a comprehensive list, nor is it an ALA-previewed or recommended list. It is a starter list for libraries interested in showing films. Please preview films for their appropriateness for your audience.

Each library wishing to show films or videos to the public related to “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” must arrange for public performance rights.

Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. now offers a Movie Public Performance Site License to libraries on an annual basis. Information is at

Please share information about films and videos with other libraries on the tour through the e-mail discussion list. The ALA Public Programs Office will also pass along to you any film information we find.

Abe Lincoln in Illinois

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)

This six-part program examines the Lincolns’ family life and marriage, Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and the Civil War era. Directed by David Grubin.


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

The Civil War

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

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.

Friendly Persuasion

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. Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, Anthony Perkins. Won many awards, including Palme d’Or at Cannes for director William Wyler.Â


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.


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.


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.

Looking for Lincoln
(PBS, 2009)

Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s quest to piece together Lincoln’s complex life takes him from Illinois to Gettysburg to Washington, D.C., and face-to-face with people who live with Lincoln every day—relic hunters, re-enactors, and others for whom the study of Lincoln is a passion.

The Red Badge of Courage

From the novel by Stephen Crane, directed by John Huston. A young recruit faces the horrors of the Civil War. Stars Audie Murphy.


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.

Young Mr. Lincoln

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