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The Buffalo, the Badlands, and Ken Burns

Clay Jenkinson
Tue October 3rd 2023, 4:00 - 6:00pm
Event Sponsor
Bill Lane Center for the American West
Lane History Corner, Room 034, Building 200
Address: 450 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Clay Jenkinson will talk about his lifelong interest in the buffalo, which was sparked by a visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota when he was just a young boy. A nationally acclaimed humanities scholar, Jenkinson has written about an alliance between William Hornaday of the Smithsonian and Theodore Roosevelt that helped save the buffalo from near extinction. Both Roosevelt and Hornaday were pursuing their dreams in western North Dakota and eastern Montana in 1886, merely 150 miles apart. Yet, they did not meet until a year later when Hornaday was finishing his famous class box diorama of six Montana bison at the National Museum. 

Jenkinson will talk about working with Ken Burns on documentary films. He has been a "talking head" in five of Burns' films, an historical consultant in two. 

About Clay S. Jenkinson

Clay Jenkinson is a humanities scholar, author, and social commentator, who has devoted most of his career to public humanities programs. As one of the nation’s leading impersonators of Thomas Jefferson and other historical figures, Clay has performed before Supreme Court justices, presidents, eighteen state legislatures, and countless public, corporate and student audiences. He has also appeared on The Today Show, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, and CNN. Jenkinson has dedicated the better part of his life to researching the historical characters he portrays and bringing back the “living theatre” of Chautauqua. which also emphasizes education with audience participation to enhance the learning and entertainment experience. 

Clay is the recipient of one of the first five Charles Frankel Prizes, the National Endowment for the Humanities’ highest award (now called the National Humanities Medal), from President George H. Bush. He serves as editor-at-large of and hosts Listening to America radio show and podcast. He also leads humanities-based group tours to historic locales such as the Lewis & Clark trail in Montana and Idaho, John Steinbeck’s California, and Jefferson’s France. He lives and writes in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Books by Clay Jenkinson

  • The Language of Cottonwoods: Essays on North Dakota (2021)
  •  Repairing Jefferson’s America (2020)
  • Donald Trump and the Death of American Integrity (2020)
  • Bring Out Your Dead: The Literature and History of Epidemics (2020)
  • Theodore Roosevelt: Naturalist in the Arena, co-authored with Char Miller (2020)
  • For the Love of North Dakota and Other Essays: Sundays with Clay in the Bismarck Tribune (2012)
  • A Free and Hardy Life: Theodore Roosevelt’s Sojourn in the West (2011)
  • The Character of Meriwether Lewis: Explorer in the Wilderness (2011)
  • Theodore Roosevelt in the Dakota Badlands (2006)
  • Becoming Jefferson's People: Reinventing the American Republic in the Twenty-First Century (2005)
  • Message on the Wind: A Spiritual Odyssey on the Northern Plains (2002)