A collage of historical photos and newspaper clippings from events at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Public History Project is a multi-year effort to uncover and give voice to those who experienced, challenged and overcame prejudice on campus. The project grew out of a campus study group that looked into the history of two UW–Madison student organizations in the early 1920s that bore the name of the Ku Klux Klan. Chancellor Rebecca Blank commissioned the Public History Project as one of several responses to the study group’s findings. The broad intent of the project is to ensure that all students and alumni are aware of the full history of the university, including the accomplishments of campus community members from marginalized populations whose stories previously may have been hidden or not widely known.

An update on the Public History Project

Director Kacie Lucchini Butcher discusses the UW–Madison Public History Project — “a multi-year effort to uncover and give voice to those who experienced, challenged and overcame prejudice on campus” — as it builds toward a public exhibit in fall 2022.

How to participate

The Public History Project aims to recover the stories of those who experienced prejudice and bigotry on campus and demanded full equality. While much of the history will focus on the way students were excluded and discriminated against, this story is also about the people who resisted, and continue to resist, marginalization. For generations, students refused to be pushed to the margins and instead fought for their place on campus.

Individuals aren’t often taught to think of themselves as sources of historical knowledge, but they are. Individuals hold intimate knowledge of their campus, their neighborhoods, and their communities. That is why we want to hear from you. We believe that this project will be the most successful when it deeply engages all of those in our community. If you have a story to share, an event you think should be researched, or a person you think has been overlooked, please contact us.


Sifting & Reckoning: UW–Madison’s History of Exclusion and Resistance
Coming this fall, the Public History Project presents “Sifting & Reckoning: UW–Madison’s History of Exclusion and Resistance”, an exhibit at the Chazen Museum of Art. Through archival objects, photographs, and oral histories the exhibit will illuminate under-recognized histories in the university’s past.

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