An offshoot of the national organization of Citizens for Educational Freedom (CEF), the Wisconsin Federation was founded in 1961 to promote passage of the state's Fair Bus Bill, a measure intended to provide public busing to students who attended non-public schools. The law passed but was later reversed. Nevertheless, the Federation -- inspired by its short term success -- lobbied for further educational benefits, such as tax credits, government grants, and vouchers for parents of non-public school students. The Wisconsin Federation shared the same basic goal as its national counterpart -- to secure the equal distribution of public financial education benefits for students in non-public schools.
The Wisconsin Federation of CEF began experiencing financial difficulties in the early 1970s, as operating costs outpaced donations. Despite efforts to reform its fundraising system, the Wisconsin Federation was forced to close its permanent offices and dismiss its staff in 1975. The organization lingered until 1978, when its last president, Carston Koeller, ceased his advocacy efforts.
Scope and Content
The collection is comprised of paper files divided into three (3) series. The first series is divided into two parts: the first contains general subject files, arranged alphabetically. The "regional" files that constitute the second part correspond to geographic areas within Wisconsin --either counties, cities, or electoral districts -- and they are arranged alphabetically. The second series in this collection consists of financial records, minutes of meetings, and correspondence, mostly from within the organization. The third series is composed of files and scrapbooks maintained by Carston Koeller, the Federation's last president; these are particularly useful for understanding the organization's final years.