“Successful beyond expectation:” blackface, minstrelsy, and racist entertainment at UW–Madison

The Haresfoot Club, one of the most famous and exclusive student groups, required its members to complete a series of initiation activities. The final initiation act was a costume challenge. Students were given a strict set of costume guidelines and were told to arrive in front of the Library (now the Wisconsin Historical Society) to be judged. The costumes often centered around themes of racial and religious discrimination including blackface. The initiation event was a popular event, as seen here, with hundreds of UW community members in attendance. Photo courtesy of UW Archives.

Large group photo of Haresfoot Club initiation in 1923. Depicts many students in various costumes including blackface.

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