New Oral History Collection Documents South Asian Immigration to Wisconsin, 1950-1979

Photo of Sharath Raja family

The Raja family, 1968

The UWM Libraries have launched the Desi Wisconsin South Asian Immigration Oral History Project. Led by Sharath Raja, a prominent Milwaukee resident, the project is an ongoing effort to document some of the first South Asian immigrants to Wisconsin from 1950-1979.

Due to tight restrictions on immigration from Asian countries to the United States, only a small number of individuals from South Asia, usually students or academics, settled in Wisconsin in the early part of the twentieth century.

Following the enactment of the Hart-Celler Act in 1965 liberalizing immigration quotas, however, these numbers grew steadily. South Asian individuals found Wisconsin fertile ground for pursuing their personal and professional dreams.

This anthology of annotated oral histories and photographs details the subjects’ pursuit of the American Dream and their evolving conception of what it means to be an American.

Desi Wisconsin is a joint project of the UWM Archives and Digital Collections & Initiatives departments.