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The Bigger Picture

Images can tell powerful stories. One iconic photograph can symbolize an entire era. But if we expand the frame and examine the moment in which it was taken, a very different story can emerge. In this series of documentary shorts, Harvard University historian Dr. Vincent Brown meets with curators, photographers and other experts to challenge common assumptions about iconic American images.

This iconic photo by Gordon Parks was once considered too controversial to be published.
How an FBI Wanted poster turned Angela Davis into a symbol of Black Power and liberation.
An iconic photograph representing the immigrant experience is more than meets the eye.
Major funding for THE BIGGER PICTURE was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding was provided by the Anderson Family Charitable Fund, the Tamara L. Harris Foundation, the William Talbott Hillman Foundation, the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for the digital production of THE BIGGER PICTURE was provided by Chasing the Dream – a public media initiative from The WNET Group, reporting on poverty, opportunity, and justice in America, and supported by The JPB Foundation, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, and Sue and Edgar Wachenheim, III.
Episodes
Unravel the mystery behind an iconic photograph of Blackfeet tribe leader Mountain Chief.
The story behind “Raising the Flag at Ground Zero,” an iconic photo taken on September 11.
Find out how “Blue Marble,” NASA’s iconic photo of a fully illuminated Earth, was taken.
What can a portrait of Abraham Lincoln tell us about the spectacle of politics today?
Extras
Explore American history through iconic photos that have defined our national identity.