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Documenting the Undocumented: Covid-19 Oral Histories & Immigrant Workers in Rural Wisconsin


Project creators



Cheryl Jimenez Frei

Assistant Professor of Public History
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


Elena Casey

Assistant Professor of Spanish
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


Lisa Shiller

Associate Professor of Nursing
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


About the project

In response to the pandemic, in spring 2020 the Public History Program and the McIntyre Library at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire joined with the Chippewa Valley Museum to launch the Chippewa Valley Covid-19 Archive, a rapid-response collection project to document the effects of the Coronavirus in rural Western Wisconsin. The archive is dedicated to preserving oral histories and materials related to Covid-19 and its impacts on the region, with the imperative to compile a diverse picture of its effects across our communities.

With this goal in mind, "Documenting the Undocumented" is a project that seeks to collect and archive and make publicly available oral history interviews with Spanish-speaking populations in Western Wisconsin, particularly migrant and undocumented workers, many of whom work on dairy farms in the region. Documenting the experiences of Spanish-speaking, immigrant, and undocumented populations is an essential part of understanding the pandemic’s impacts in Wisconsin and the rural Midwest, as well as the intersections of race, power, and structural inequality that the crisis has highlighted.

This oral history project seeks to fill archival silences by preserving marginalized voices that have often been absent in historical sources. Overall, it is our goal to create a repository preserving a diverse cross section of experiences to help future scholars, students, and policymakers better understand the impact of Covid-19 on Wisconsin and the rural Midwest. 


The Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest
St. Augustine Center, Room 410
Villanova University
Villanova, PA 19085

Media inquiries:

Please contact the Villanova University media relations department.