Ken Burns

"Cairo Time" New York City Special Screening - Arrivals

Burns in 2010, photo by Prphotos

Birth Name: Kenneth Lauren Burns

Place of Birth: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.

Date of Birth: July 29, 1953

Ethnicity: English, some Irish, Scottish, and German, distant Dutch

Ken Burns is an American filmmaker. He is known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in documentary films. Among his works are The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and The Roosevelts.

He is the son of Lyla Smith (Tupper), a biotechnician, and Robert Kyle Burns, Jr. His father was born in Hamilton County, Ohio. His mother was born in Clarksburg, Harrison, West Virginia. His brother is documentary filmmaker and writer Ric Burns. His ancestry includes deep Colonial American roots. He was raised partly in Saint-Véran, France, Newark, Delaware, and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ken is married to Julie Brown. He has two children, including author, public speaker, and filmmaker Sarah Burns, with his former wife Amy Stechler; and two children with Julie. Julie is the founder of non-profit Room to Grow, aiding soon-to-be parents living in poverty.

Ken’s paternal grandfather was Robert Kyle Burns (the son of William McLauren/McLaurin Burns and Sarah E. “Sallie” White). Robert was born in Hillsboro, Pocahontas, West Virginia, and was a prominent biologist. William was the son of Abraham W. Burns and Margaret J.

Ken’s paternal grandmother was Emily Lucille Moore (the daughter of George B. Moore and Nellie Lee Crook). Emily was born in Maryland. George was the son of George Moore and Harriet Reiman/Rayman. Nellie was the daughter of James Latourette Crook and Emily Virginia Forsythe.

Ken’s maternal grandfather was George Bancroft Tupper (the son of John Powers Tupper and Francis/Frances Howard McMannus/McManus). George was born in New York, New York. John was the son of Lorenzo Baker Tupper and Caroline Louise “Carrie” Powers. Francis was the daughter of Lohm McMannus/McManus and Corrine.

Ken’s maternal grandmother was Lyla Morris Smith (the daughter of Lyle Austin Smith and Susan Humbird). Ken’s grandmother Lyla was born in Allegany County, Maryland. Ken’s great-grandfather Lyle was the son of Abraham Smith and Juliet Amanda Austin.

Ken appeared on a 2014 episode of the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. In his 2016 book about the show, Finding Your Roots, Season 2: The Official Companion to the PBS Series, Gates wrote that one DNA test stated that Ken is of 100% European descent (including 26% Irish, 10% British, and 6% Iberian), while another DNA test stated that Ken’s genetic ancestry is approximately 99.6% European, 0.4% Sub-Saharan African, and 0.1% Native American.

Sources: Genealogies of Ken Burns –

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