Ken Burns Classroom

First Fireside Chat

Ken Burns Film: The Roosevelts

Collections: Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)

Subject: US History

Grade Level: 7-12

Video Run Time: 6:30

The country is in despair: five thousand banks have failed, nine million savings accounts evaporated. Eight days after his inauguration, FDR turns to radio to speak to the American public in the first of his fireside chats. Sixty million Americans hear him explain how banks should work, how they failed, and what he would do to lead the country back to prosperity. FDR uses radio to build a relationship with the public and soothe their fears.