Women Inspire (Women@UW) Oral History Project


A home economics journalism student speaks into a microphone.
Home economics journalism student, 1981 (UWDC, The Human Ecology Collection. Original photo at UW-Archives in Series 14.)

The primary goal of the Oral History Program at UW-Madison has always been to gather and preserve, through in-depth, recorded interviews, the memories of the people who have contributed to the stories that comprise UW-Madison’s history. This project is in collaboration with Wisconsin Women Making History and the Office of the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian, with generous funding from members of the Women’s Philanthropy Council. The Women Inspire (Women@UW) Project seeks to gather and preserve the stories of women who have contributed to UW-Madison’s history. We interview alumni, current and former staff (both Academic and University), and current and former faculty. This project is inclusive of anyone who identifies as a woman.


A woman examines a test tube in a lab as a machine behind her prints out readings.
Working in a lab, ca. 1960-ca. 1970. (UWDC, The University of Wisconsin Collection, #S10748)

Women Inspire (Women@UW) was created in 2016/2017 with the goal of collecting, preserving, sustaining, and growing the collection of women’s oral histories in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives. The University of Wisconsin Madison’s Oral History Program’s (OHP) collection–held at the UW Madison Archives–currently encompasses over 2,100 interviews (over 5,000 hours) touching on all aspects of the University’s history. Collections include: Teaching Assistants Strike of 1970, the UW Merger, the Arboretum, the Madison LGBT Community 1960s-present, and printmaking and book arts at UW. Other significant historical themes run through many of the interviews, including the Depression, the return of the GIs after World War II, Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), the protests against the Vietnam War, academic freedom, and gender and race issues. Capturing and sharing direct, timely, authentic stories is a priceless part of building a historic archive of the women’s history at UW-Madison and beyond. 

For more information about the history of women at UW-Madison, check out Wisconsin Women Making History, UW-Women at 150, and this timeline from the history department.


Kathryn Rice Beach, who was associate dean for admissions and counseling in the early 1970s, advises a student.
Kathryn Rice Beach advising a student, ca. 1970-ca. 1979. (UWDC, The Human Ecology Collection. Original photo at UW-Archives in Series 14)

The following interviews have been conducted with generous funding from members of the  Women’s Philanthropy Council specifically for the Women Inspire (Women@UW) project. This number does not reflect the many other interviews with women that have been conducted by the Oral History Program throughout the years for projects including: Women in Science and Engineering, Madison General Hospital School of Nursing, UW-Madison Book Arts, and the Madison LGBT Community 1960s-Present Oral History Projects.

If you would like to learn more about how to access interviews with women, or if you would like to nominate someone to be interviewed, email us at uwarchiv@library.wisc.edu

Women Inspire (Women@UW) Interviews

A group of students sit inside a dorm room and listen to records
Listening to records (UWDC, The University of Wisconsin Collection, #S14110)

While this is an ongoing project, we’d like to thank the students who have worked on this project so far: Kayla Bell, Samantha Garlock, Gabby Griggs, Sophia Halverson, Faith Hoffmeyer, Isaac Lee, Tyler Lehrer, Maddy McGlone, and Bree Romero.

Thanks also to: the teams at Digital Library Services & the Shared Development Group, particularly Jesse Henderson, Karen Rattunde, and Steven Dast, for getting these oral histories online; Ben Strand and Martha Taylor, formerly of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association for helping us formulate the proposal and submitting it to the donors; and UW Gender & Women’s Studies Librarian Karla Strand for her ongoing advice and support.