2022 Keynote Speaker

Dayton Duncan
Writer and Documentary Producer, Collaborator with Ken Burns

The Conversations on Collecting Yellowstone conference steering committee is pleased to welcome Dayton Duncan as its keynote speaker 

For nearly 30 years Duncan has been involved with the work of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns as a writer and producer. He is the author of thirteen books, including The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a companion book to the Emmy award winning documentary film of the same name.

Those not attending the conference will be able to purchase tickets to the keynote speech. Further information will be posted here in late winter. Please reach out to Ann Vinciguerra, events and communications manager at MSU Library (406-994 6857; ann.vinciguerra@montana.edu) with questions and for additional information.

Dayton Duncan

Full Biography
Courtesy of Keppler Speakers

Dayton Duncan is an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker. He is the author of thirteen books, including Out West: A Journey Through Lewis & Clark’s America, which chronicles his retracing of the Lewis and Clark trail; Miles From Nowhere: In Search of the American Frontier, examining the current conditions, history, and people of the most sparsely settled counties in the United States; and Seed of the Future: Yosemite and the Evolution of the National Park Idea.

Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, published in 1997; Mark Twain, 2001; Horatio’s Drive, 2003; The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, 2009; The Dust Bowl, 2012; and Country Music, 2019, are companion books to documentary films he wrote and produced. Two books for young readers were published in 1996: People of the West and The West: An Illustrated History for Children.

For nearly 30 years Duncan has also been involved with the work of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns as a writer and producer, including The West, which won the Erik Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians (co-writer and consulting producer). He was the writer and producer of Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, which attained the second-highest ratings (following THE CIVIL WAR) in the history of PBS and won a Western Heritage award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America, and a CINE Golden Eagle, as well as many other honors.

He was the co-writer and producer of Mark Twain, and writer/producer of Horatio’s Drive, about the first transcontinental automobile trip, The Dust Bowl (his script won a Spur Award and Western Heritage award and was nominated for an Emmy) and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, which won two Emmy awards––for outstanding nonfiction series and outstanding writing for nonfiction programming. His most recent collaboration with Burns was as writer and lead producer of Country Music; it has won a Western Heritage award and two Spur Awards.

He is now at work with Burns as the writer of Benjamin Franklin (scheduled for broadcast in 2022) and American Buffalo (2023).

In politics, Duncan served as chief of staff to New Hampshire Gov. Hugh Gallen; deputy national press secretary for Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign in 1984; and national press secretary for Michael Dukakis’s 1988 presidential campaign. In 1998, President Bill Clinton appointed him chair of the American Heritage Rivers Advisory Committee and Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt appointed him to the board of the National Park Foundation. In the spring of 2009, the director of the National Park Service named Duncan as an Honorary Park Ranger, an honor bestowed on fewer than 50 people in history. He has served on the boards of the Student Conservation Association and the National Conservation Lands Foundation, and as a member of the advisory committee for the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service.

Born and raised in Indianola, Iowa, Duncan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 with a degree in German literature and was also a fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics and Public Policy. He holds honorary doctorates from Franklin Pierce University, Keene State College and Drake University.

For the last fifty years he has lived New Hampshire, where he makes his home in the small town of Walpole with his wife, Dianne.