The University of Wisconsin’s Public History Project, the multiyear project created to uncover stories of past prejudice on campus, hired a director last summer. 

Public historian Kacie Lucchini Butcher specializes in giving voices to minority communities. She co-curated a museum in Minneapolis that documented the racial discrimination in housing in the city. 

According to the project’s website, the Public History project aims “to uncover and give voice to those who experienced, challenged and overcame prejudice on campus.”

Last year, a campus study group’s report shed light on past racial disparities on campus, which led to the creation of the project. 

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The study looked at two UW organizations named after the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. One group had direct affiliation with the “Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,” a national white supremacy group, and the other group affiliated with an interfraternity group with no direct ties to another organization.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank commissioned the study after the events that took place in Charlottesville in 2017 to investigate any UW organizations with the same name as the Ku Klux Klan. The results of the study prompted the commission of the larger Public History Project.

The purpose of the project is not to hide the past of the campus community but to give credit to marginalized voices on campus that may have been lost throughout time, according to their description.

In partnership with the Public History Project Advisory Committee, Lucchini Butcher will organize and conduct research on marginalized populations throughout UW’s history. She plans to enlist the help of other undergraduate and graduate students by hiring them to do research for the project. 

In a message released on the UW website, Lucchini Butcher said she is honored to be working on this project that will greatly affect the campus community. Beyond the help of hired researchers, Lucchini Butcher stressed the importance of students, faculty and members of the community getting involved in the construction of the project.

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“Individuals are not often taught to think of themselves as sources of historical knowledge, but they are,” Lucchini Butcher said. “Individuals hold intimate knowledge of their campus, their neighborhoods, and their communities. That is why we want to hear from you.”

She encouraged students to share their stories and any knowledge of past events that may be valuable to the project. Students and members of the community can make contributions by contacting [email protected].