24 Best American History Documentaries On Netflix

24 Best American History Documentaries On Netflix


  • Netflix has produced a spread of unique documentaries that dive deep into American historical past, filling gaps left by the academic system.
  • One of the best American historical past documentaries on Netflix cowl a various vary of matters past simply American historical past, together with music, politics, feminism, and civil rights.
  • These documentaries make clear essential occasions and figures in American historical past, providing new views and uncovering untold tales.

Netflix is understood for its in depth library of documentaries accessible, and the streaming service is dwelling to a few of the finest American historical past documentaries. Whereas identified for its manufacturing of true crime and music-based documentaries, the streaming service deserves extra credit score for its efforts in detailing essential occasions in American historical past. For individuals who need to study American historical past extra in-depth than within the classroom, or study concerning the nation’s fascinating formation for the primary time, Netflix has produced many unique documentaries to swimsuit all viewers.

One of the best documentaries on Netflix cowl all kinds of matters, and American historical past is not the one topic that is included. When in comparison with the remainder of the world, American historical past is a comparatively brief topic, and through the years those that stay within the States and have taken half in these compulsory lessons have discovered protection on the topic missing. As analysis continues and biases are coming beneath scrutiny, the most effective American historical past documentaries have stepped as much as fill within the gaps created by the academic system.

The Anthrax Assaults: In The Shadow Of 9/11 (2022)

9/11 is likely one of the most generally coated occasions in up to date American historical past, however few keep in mind that shortly after the assaults the nation was plagued with concern over anthrax that was being despatched via the postal service to unwitting victims. That is what among the finest American historical past documentaries seeks to discover, because the 2001 anthrax assaults have been some of the sophisticated circumstances in FBI historical past. The Anthrax Assaults: Within the Shadow of 9/11 deftly chronicles the case from begin to end utilizing a mix of non-public interviews with these concerned and information footage.

Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy (2021)

This no-holds-barred documentary takes on the cocaine epidemic of the Nineteen Eighties and particulars how its unfold devastated many inner-city communities in among the finest American historical past documentaries. The movie highlights that in contrast to rising drug experimentation in American tradition beforehand, crack cocaine created far better highs and extra devastating lows than every other substance that existed earlier than. The documentary does a very good job of highlighting how racism was utilized by US politicians to excuse non-intervention within the epidemic. It additionally gives some extremely convincing theories on how the drug was channeled into the nation with permission from numerous authorities.

Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali (2021)Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali

Blood Brothers tells the story of the friendship between Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali and their eventual fallout in among the finest American Historical past documentaries. The documentary particulars how the pair bonded because of their function as civil rights leaders and membership of the Nation of Islam, in addition to the forces that drove them aside. With unique archival footage and entry to interviews with shut family and friends of each events, this documentary gives a brand new, in-depth have a look at the breakdown of a relationship between two of American historical past’s most influential males.

ReMastered: Tough Dick And The Man In Black (2018)

Top-of-the-line American historical past documentaries particulars the music and political ideology of nation music famous person Johnny Money, main as much as his well-known assembly with President Richard Nixon in April 1970. With interviews from relations and shut mates within the music enterprise, the movie exhibits a facet of Money by no means seen earlier than. The movie expertly analyzes why nation music is strongly related to conservatism, whereas on the similar time drawing consideration to Money’s often-secret life as a campaigner for Vietnam troopers and Native American civil rights. It additionally highlights Money’s shortcomings as a campaigner for a refreshingly sincere watch.

The Dying And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)

The Dying and Lifetime of Marsha P. Johnson chronicles the life and premature dying of activist Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans girl and foundational a part of the fashionable LGBTQ+ delight motion. Top-of-the-line American historical past documentaries follows fellow activist and up to date of Johnson’s, Victoria Cruz, and her investigation into her dying. Whereas the movie makes no sure conclusions on Marsha P. Johnson’s dying, the documentary attracts consideration to how institutional and social homophobia and transphobia performed a job in Johnson’s dying and its investigation. For these unaware of Johnson’s story, this documentary is one in all many important films to look at throughout Delight Month.

Get Me Roger Stone (2017)

Political strategist Roger Stone has been a basis of victories within the Republican Social gathering because the days of Richard Nixon’s election in 1968 however solely garnered nationwide consideration beneath his work with Donald Trump in 2016. Get Me Roger Stone is likely one of the finest American historical past documentaries and explores how one man grew to become important to conservative politics and the legal guidelines Stone broke within the course of. Get Me Roger Stone brings mild to a political heavyweight in conservative politics that many viewers have been probably unaware of. The movie’s means to bridge connections between Stone’s function in earlier political campaigns to his function in fashionable controversies makes for a compelling watch.

Amend: The Combat For America (2021)

Will Smith and a number of different well-known faces in among the finest American historical past documentaries current a journey via the historical past of the 14th Modification – the modification that granted citizenship to all individuals born in the USA. Every episode chronicles using the modification to combat for civil rights for America’s most marginalized voices. Amend is likely one of the finest initiatives produced by Will Smith. Every celeb presenter within the sequence makes use of their abilities to inform the story of America’s typically unsung heroes within the combat for citizen rights, enjoying numerous roles to convey a multi-faceted have a look at the historical past of the 14th Modification.

Crip Camp (2020)

Crip Camp tells the unlikely story of how a rural camp geared toward disabled youngsters within the Nineteen Seventies, often called Camp Jened, grew to become the bottom for the incapacity rights motion, resulting in the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. The documentary follows the camp’s former contributors as they return to the positioning and recall the combat for civil rights that they participated in. This Oscar-nominated movie is likely one of the perfect Netflix documentaries. The significant illustration offered within the documentary gives an instance of how equality is at all times potential, even within the face of unimaginable odds.

Challenger: The Closing Flight (2020)

Top-of-the-line American historical past documentaries particulars the House Shuttle Challenger Catastrophe in 1986, the place all seven astronauts have been killed after the Challenger shuttle exploded shortly into its flight. The documentary particulars the shortcomings of some NASA staffers and the technical failures that brought on the catastrophe. Whereas the Challenger tragedy is well-known, The Closing Flight offers uncommon perception into the Challenger astronauts past their deaths within the run-up to the catastrophe. Though the documentary particulars a tragic occasion, there’s a poignant celebration of the lives of the flight crew who have been devoted to the mission.

Bobby Kennedy For President (2018)

Top-of-the-line American historical past documentaries chronicles the final years of Robert F. Kennedy within the aftermath of his brother, President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, resulting in his personal assassination in 1968 throughout his Presidential marketing campaign. The sequence explores what made RFK a singular politician and considers what may’ve been. Bobby Kennedy For President is one in all Netflix’s most transferring documentaries, with its emphasis on how fashionable his presidential marketing campaign was and the way it could have fared at this time. One particularly touching episode options the younger busboy, Juan Romero, who tended to a dying Kennedy, being celebrated at a college in Kennedy’s honor, earlier than his personal dying shortly after filming.

thirteenth (2016)

13th - Netflix documentary poster and trailer

Ava DuVernay’s masterpiece documentary explains the direct line between slavery and the mass incarceration of African Individuals that also exists at this time in among the finest American historical past documentaries, all tied collectively by the thirteenth Modification. The thirteenth Modification was the article that abolished slavery or involuntary servitude, apart from as a punishment for a criminal offense. This documentary is important viewing for these searching for a better understanding of how institutional racism happens in America by drawing again to its historic roots. Its use of statistics, historic documentation, and interviews from key figures of the Civil Rights Motion create a function of monumental historic significance.

Descendant (2022)

Someone standing on a shore in Descendant

Descendant is fascinating and among the finest American historical past documentaries because it focuses on the descendants of the Clotilda, the final identified slave ship that was used to illegally take folks from Africa to America. The documentary is ready within the small neighborhood of Africatown, Alabama, and makes use of private interviews with the residents as they recount tales of the abhorrent therapy of their ancestors. The ship itself is revealed by a staff of marine archeologists within the documentary, including a level of depth to the story and reminding viewers that these atrocities came about not that way back.

Associated: Black Historical past Month: 10 Important Documentaries About Racial Justice

The Battered Bastards Of Baseball (2014)

three teammates together in The Battered Bastards of Baseball

Top-of-the-line American historical past documentaries can also be a sports activities documentary chronicling one underdog staff to victory. Baseball is usually coined as an amazing American pastime, and The Battered Bastards of Baseball chronicles Hollywood star Bing Russell’s creation of the very first impartial baseball staff, the Portland Mavericks. Set in 1973, the documentary makes use of interviews and photographs from the time, together with a particular look from his well-known son Kurt Russell, to inform Bing Russell’s story of triumph as he took his affiliation-less staff from unknowns to stardom.

9to5: The Story of a Motion (2019)

A protest in 9to5_ The Story of a Movement

Whereas there are many nice documentaries about feminism in the marketplace, 9to5: The Story of a Motion doubles as among the finest American historical past documentaries. The Nineteen Seventies gave rise to second-wave feminism, specializing in reproductive rights and honest therapy within the office. One specific marketing campaign fought towards abuse from male bosses upon their feminine colleagues — and this sparked a whole function movie starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton. The documentary chronicles each the motion and the film it impressed, in addition to Parton’s catchy tune.

Toni Morrison: The Items I Am (2019)

Promo shot for Toni Morrison_ The Pieces I Am

Toni Morrison is likely one of the most celebrated up to date authors, and audiences are assuredly questioning why she did not get a documentary a lot sooner. In among the finest American historical past documentaries, Morrison displays on her personal life as a storyteller whereas others discover the highly effective themes present in her works like Sula, The Bluest Eye, and Track of Solomon. Morrison recounts what it was like rising up as a Black girl in Lorain, Ohio, and attending Harvard within the 50s on this meditative piece. The documentary is critically acclaimed and ended up profitable a number of awards.

Who We Are: A Chronicle Of Racism In America (2021)

Promo shot for Who We Are_ A Chronicle of Racism In America

Lawyer Jeffrey Robinson leads the way in which in among the finest American historical past documentaries, Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America. Robinson goes on an extremely deep dive and makes use of a wide range of mediums, together with interviews, lectures, and private tales, to chronicle anti-Black racism in America from its earliest beginnings as much as the present time. Robinson skewers the concept audiences reside in a post-racial America utilizing compounding proof of the opposite all through. It is stark and uncomfortable, however however an important watch.

Associated: 10 Finest Movies To Higher Perceive Black Lives Matter

Is That Black Sufficient For You?!? (2022)

A clip of Sidney Poitier in Is That Black Enough For You?!?

Blaxploitation is a style all its personal, and among the finest American historical past documentaries covers Black cinema over the ages, with a particular deal with Blaxsploitation, with particular appearances from stars like Laurence Fishburne, Samuel L. Jackson, and Whoopi Goldberg. Using interviews and archival footage from those that have performed an enormous function within the motion, Is that Black Sufficient For You?!? primarily covers what’s often called the golden period of Black filmmaking, recognized within the documentary as 1968 to 1978. The documentary is a superb survey of Black cinema via the ages.

Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis (2021)

Promo shot for Camp Confidential_ America’s Secret Nazis

One of many shortest documentaries on Netflix can also be among the finest American historical past documentaries. Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis is a good 36 minutes and makes use of animated sequences and interviews to inform its compelling story. The narrative covers a secret P.O.W. camp close to Washington D.C. that remained labeled for 50 years and was dwelling to a few of the high Nazi scientists of World Struggle II. As Jewish refugees are tasked with guarding the camp, they quickly notice who they’re defending after which additional burdened with preserving them comfortable.

The Martha Mitchell Impact (2022)

Promo image of The Martha Mitchell Effect shot film on Netflix

There are a variety of nice documentaries on Netflix about American politics, and former President Richard Nixon is a frequent topic. Nevertheless, among the finest American historical past documentaries covers not Nixon, however one in all his most well-known detractors who was silenced. Martha Mitchell was the spouse of a Republican cupboard member, and he or she grew to become some of the well-known unlikely whistleblowers throughout the Watergate scandal. Utilizing archival footage, The Martha Mitchell Impact tells her story and the Nixon administration’s numerous makes an attempt to psychologically subdue her.

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