Capitol Protests 2011 Oral History Project


Protesters standing by the Forward sculpture, #BDP000266.
Protesters standing by the Forward sculpture, #BDP000266.

The 2011 Wisconsin or “Capitol Protests” were a series of demonstrations in Madison, Wisconsin beginning in February 2011. At at its peek, as many as 100,000 protesters opposing the 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair bill,” gathered on Capitol Square and other locations in downtown Madison.

Anti-tax activists and other conservatives, including Tea Party advocates, launched smaller counter protests. The protests centered on the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison. Demonstrations took place at various college campuses, including the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

After the collective bargaining bill was upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on June 14, 2011 the number of protesters declined.

Collecting Work

In an effort to capture stories and memories of the Capitol Protests while they were still fresh in people’s minds, Oral Historian Troy Reeves, along with several graduate students, initiated this project to collect interviews with graduate students, faculty and staff, as well as other Madison residents impacted by this event.

This is an ongoing project. If you know someone who would like to be interviewed, fill out the UWOHP Narrator Nomination Form 2015 [pdf] and return it to the Archives by mail or email attachment.

Project Process

Protesters inside the Wisconsin State Capitol building, #BDP000292.
Protesters inside the Capitol, #BDP000292.

In summer 2015, student staff processed many of the interviews using Pop Up Archive and OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer). These tools offer enhanced access to many of these interviews. We hope to continue using those tools to provide improved access to all the oral histories in this project.

The following list includes processed interviews. Click on the link to access an interview’s audio, summary, and—if available—transcript. Non-linked interviews are available by visiting the University Archives during hours of operation or emailing Oral History Program head, Troy Reeves (, for more details.

Many thanks to UW-Madison’s iSchool students for their work on this project: Melissa Schultz, Katlyn Griffin, and Carolina Hernandez.


David Ahrens, 1368
D. Allen, 1340
Ashley Anderson, 1132
Brandon Barwick, 1331
• Jay Burlingham, 1131
Jacob Carrel, 1135
Sarah Cushing, 1239
Heather Daniels, 1175
Brian Esselman, 1315
Tim Frandy, 1179
• Itay Gabay, 1133
Matthew Gaydos, 1134
Kevin Gibbons, 1318
Lenora Hanson, 1295
Marc Herstand, 1136
Jill Hopke, 1181
Jillian Jacklin, 1296
Ellen Jacks, 1314
Martina Kunovic, 1130
Tse-Ching Lien, 1228
Adrienne Pagac, 1238
• Kaja Rebane, 1437
Peter Rickman, 1390
Joseph (Joe) Salmons, 1344
• Charity Schmidt, 1518
Alyson Sewell, 1380
Hilary Virtanen, 1171
Naomi Williams, 1204

View a gallery of images that document the Wisconsin budget repair bill protests in February 2011.

View a Timeline of the 2011 Occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol, compiled and organized by Harriet Rowan using Timeline JS.

For more information about the Capitol Protests 2011 project or the UW-Madison Oral History Program, visit Oral History Program or email Oral History Program head, Troy Reeves (