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Sarah Colt ’88
Director, The Gilded Age

Sarah Colt ’88 <br>Director, The Gilded Age

The Gilded Age is a two-hour program for PBS’ award- winning series American Experience that explores the dynamic and fluid final decades of the 19th century. The narrative depends largely on the hopes and dreams, and the triumphs and failures, of men and women who took big personal risks to change the direction of the United States. They shared a belief in the promise of the American future, faith in the technological wonders of the age, and confidence that their country could reach for its economic potential while holding onto its most cherished democratic ideals. They were all bullish on America.

The industrialist steel maker and champion of laissez faire capitalism Andrew Carnegie; trend-setting socialite Alva Vanderbilt; white-shoe banker J.P. Morgan; political activist Henry George; and Populist leader Mary Elizabeth Lease all wanted particular outcomes, both for themselves and for their country. Coming up short of their goals, they refused to resign themselves to failure. It is their personal and heartfelt efforts that animate this compelling, complex and urgently relevant story of one of the most convulsive and transformative eras in American history. National broadcast of The Gilded Age is slated for winter 2018.

WHAT IS REAL?

Alumni who must find and declare the truth as their life’s work live in rigorous times. What is the impact on their work, and on their persons, when public voices dismissively declare that the truth is fake, or that an alternate reality is true? We asked alumni who mine for the truth in different domains: How hard it is to find the truth? How difficult is it to know what’s real?

And in an environment of widespread mistrust, what happens to the reality they bring forward?

How vulnerable is the truth?

How illusive is the truth?

What, we wanted to know, is the daring part of “daring to be true”—finding it, declaring it, keeping it alive, making sure it matters?