Online Audio Program

The Remarkable Edwin C. Bearss

With Marc J. Pachter, author, historian, and Director  of the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery

Recorded at the Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History, January 29, 2001

Listen Now!

Read Segment descriptions

The audio portion of this FREE online program is available in Real Audio.
If you do not have Real Audio, you may download it FREE at

Segment Descriptions


  • Marc Pachter is Director of the National Portrait Gallery and knows a national treasure when he sees one.  Mr. Pachter shares this evening with one of our country's living treasures, Ed Bearss.
Marc Pachter, Director of the National Portrait Gallery interviews Ed Bearss

Marc Pachter, "Master Interviewer" of the Smithsonian Institution

Early Life in Montana

  • Ed shares stories about growing up in Montana; his early interest in the Civil War; and, explains why his name is pronounced "Barss" and not "Beerss".

Logo of the Smithsonian Magazine, this links the issue with an Ed Bearss interview

Read the September 1995 issue, "Around the Mall & Beyond" for more about the remarkable life and career of Ed Bearss.

Military Career, Work at the National Park Service, and his first trip to the Smithsonian

  • Ed shares his war experiences; his post-war college days; his important work on raising the Cairo; and, what it was like to be a Northerner in the South.


Period photograph of the USS Cairo

The remains of the doomed ironclad, USS Cairo, were rediscovered by Ed Bearss when he was historian at Vicksburg National Military Park. 

Fame Comes to Those Who Wait

  • Ed's first meeting with Ken Burns; how he copes with  fame, fortune, and recognition; why the Civil War, and history, matter.


Cover of the taped box set of The Civil War documentary by Ken Burns, featuring Ed Bearss

See Ed's star performance in the popular Civil War documentary series by Ken Burns. 

Question and Answer Session

  • Did you ever meet any Civil War veterans growing up in Montana?

  • How do you draw on and recall so many facts?  And, is there a list of your collected work?

  • Nathan Bedford Forest's reputation has been reassessed recently; are there others we should also look at and reanalyze?

  • Is there a location you would like to see preserved and made into a park?

  • Did you ever meet "Chesty" Puller when you were in New Britain during World War II?

  • The questioner thanks Ed for "suffering fools" during his tours.


Ed Bearss leading a Smithsonian Associates tour

Ed Bearss on tour with
Smithsonian Associates.

Home - One Day Events - Current Article - Article Archives - Join Newsletter -
Online Thumbnail Tours
- Civil War Trivia - Contact Us

Copyright © 1995-2004 by The Smithsonian Associates
Privacy Statement - Smithsonian Institution