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Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Gay Purge of 1962

Term: Gay Purge of 1962 | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.


In 1962 the University of Wisconsin-Madison actively purged students identified as homosexuals in what came to be known as the Great Purge of 1962. During that year, the campus Department of Protection and Security and the Office of the Dean of Men conducted a detailed investigation of gay men on campus. By coercing gay male students to provide names of other gay men, officials compiled a list of over 200 men and called them in for questioning. If a man admitted that he was gay, the university called his parents, revoked his scholarships, and expelled him. The purge also led to the investigation of certain faculty, staff, and deans. The purge subsided after faculty and counseling center staff argued that the widespread anguish the purge brought to the university community caused more harm than good.
 

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[Source: McCrea, Ron. "Madison Gay Purge." Midwest Gay Academic Journal 1(3): 25-30; UW-Madison historian Scott Seyforth, personal communication based on interviews with eyewitnesses. ]