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Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe collection of Boston education materials

Collection MS-1990-029: Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe collection of Boston education materials


  • Creation: 1952 - 1984
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1966 - 1976

Scope and Contents

The Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe collection of Boston education materials was created and compiled by parent and community activist Louise Bonar and Community District Advisory Council (CDAC) administrator Carol Wolfe during the desegregation of Boston Public Schools from 1965 to 1978. The collection contains administrative records, clippings and articles, correspondence, fliers, legal documents, meeting minutes, memos, newsletters, notes, printed materials, scrapbooks, and subject files dating from 1952-1984 (bulk 1966-1978). Much of the material reflects the work both women did with the Citywide Coordinating Council, its sub-committees, and the CDAC for Boston’s School District 1. These records also document Louise Bonar’s service on numerous parents’ councils and as a member of the League of Women Voters of Boston. The materials reflect Louise Bonar's interest in experimental education, politics, race, class, gender issues, and Boston history. Some of Bonar’s materials include records generated by her husband, Laurence. Sensitive parent, student, and employee materials are closed due to privacy restrictions. Please consult the Archivist about using these documents.

As one of the original forty-two members of the Citywide Coordinating Council, Bonar collected memos, reports, correspondence, newsletters, legal documents, conference material, and publications related to the work of the Council, its subcommittees, and its monitoring arm, CDAC. Wolfe, as an administrator for CDAC District 1, kept files containing handbooks, directories, correspondence, bylaws, committee materials, workshop materials, memos, and reports. A series of minutes from CDAC meetings collected by Wolfe are arranged by date. Model Demonstration Sub-system materials include evaluations, committee materials, budgets, and materials relating to schools involved in the program. The parent council series includes materials from various home and school associations. Publications collected by Bonar are primarily focused on education and desegregation topics. Store-Front Learning Center materials include background information on the organization, program proposals, and two scrapbooks. Subject files compiled by Bonar include a large number of newspaper clippings, articles, mailings, memos, correspondence, conference material, and reports on educational and desegregation topics.


Language of Materials

Materials are written predominantly in English, with a small number in Spanish.

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research; a small number of materials are closed due to privacy restrictions. One audio cassette has been digitally copied; original media was retained, but may not be played due to format. Digital use copies can only be accessed in the Burns Library Reading Room. This collection is stored off-site. Please allow 24-48 hours for retrieval.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note

Carol Wolfe was an administrator for the Community District Advisory Council (CDAC) of District 1. CDAC was a group made up of ten elected members and ten appointees that dealt with individual school district issues, supported the Racial Ethnic Parent Councils of individual schools, and monitored school environments.

Louise Bonar was a community activist who participated in many parent groups, both at her daughters’ schools and in the larger Boston context. She held graduate degrees from local institutions Simmons College and Boston University. In addition to serving on the League of Women Voters (LWV), Bonar was one of forty-two original members of the Citywide Coordinating Council (CCC) from 1975-1976 and was a member of CCC subcommittees from 1976-1977. She was the chair of the Parents Advisory Council (PAC) of the Model Demonstration Subsystem (MDS), the experimental arm of the Boston Public Schools that encompassed the Trotter, Copley Square, Horace Mann, and Lewis schools. Bonar also served on various home and school associations and Copley Square High School's Racial Ethnic Parent Council.

Dr. Laurence (Larry) Bonar, Louise Bonar's husband and a scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, was likewise a parent activist and involved in many of the same parent organizations. Dr. Bonar also served as chair of the MDS PAC after Louise. His notes appear frequently alongside hers, particularly in the MDS materials. For a time he was involved with Massachusetts Project Equality, an organization gathering funds from local religious groups to benefit equal employment opportunities.


Citywide Coordinating Council. Annual report, 1975-1976.

Jones, Arthur. "Phase 2 Council Named by Garrity." Boston Globe, May 31, 1975, 1.

Weidmann, Gerard. “Laymen Continue Vigil at St. John's Seminary." Boston Globe, April 8, 1966, 13.

Historical note

Following the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional, in 1965 Massachusetts became the first state to legally prohibit racially imbalanced schools. On March 15, 1972, the class action suit Morgan v. Hennigan was filed against the Boston School Committee on behalf of fifteen parents and forty-three children, alleging that Boston schools were segregated. Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr. ruled against the city and for the parents on June 21, 1974, ordering the BSC to come up with a plan for implementing desegregation. When they failed to come up with an appropriate plan by the deadline in January 1975, the courts took a more active role. Garrity appointed advisors to formulate the desegregation plan, which he approved in April. On May 10, 1975 Garrity issued a comprehensive desegregation order that included provisions for citizen participation, monitoring, and reporting. The order created the Citywide Coordinating Council (CCC) as an independent, autonomous oversight body to monitor the implementation of desegregation in Boston Public Schools. Initially, the CCC was composed of forty-two court-appointed volunteers, two members of the Citywide Parents Advisory Council, and two students from Racial-Ethnic Student Councils. Though the Citywide Coordinating Council was officially disbanded on September 1, 1978, a permanent Department of Implementation, established in 1977, continued to coordinate monitoring in schools after the Council's demise.

The active monitoring arms of the CCC, and later of the Department of Implementation, were the Community District Advisory Councils, or CDACs. Composed of ten parents, two students, and eight court appointees, these groups reported to a subcommittee within the Citywide Coordinating Council, the District Council Liaison. Boston’s nine school districts were overseen by a CDAC body specific to each district. CDAC 1, the Council to which Bonar and Wolfe belonged, encompassed the schools of Allston, Brighton, Mission Hill, and the Fenway area. The CDACs evaluated schools in eight areas that most challenged effective learning in Boston’s school districts: repair and construction of facilities; transportation and safety; vocational education; bilingual education; special needs; desegregation of students, faculty and administrative staff; student government and discipline; and school/university educational pairings.

Prior to the court-mandated appearance of the CCC, parents participated in their children’s schools through parent-teacher and home and school associations. Louise and Laurence Bonar were members of multiple home and school associations prior to the 1970s. These parent councils were a forum for parents to discuss their concerns about many of the issues that were later monitored by CDACs. Councils held meetings, sent materials home, maintained communication with school administrators and other government bodies, and received reports related to the school system.

The Model Demonstration Sub-system (MDS) Parent Advisory Council (PAC) fell into this category of parent advisory council. The MDS oversaw all the schools in the sub-system, which included elementary, middle, and high schools. The schools were designated as magnet schools, developing new methods of teaching that might later be implemented across the school system. Trotter School, an MDS elementary school, was the first desegregated public school in Boston when it opened in 1969. MDS schools participated in programs associated with desegregation-related funding, such the Chapter 636 school/university pairing programs. The MDS schools and Parent Advisory Council were associated with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965's Title I and were sometimes referred to as Title I entities.

Bonar's long-term interest in experimental education led to her involvement with the Store-Front Learning Center in the 1970s. Established in July 1968 by affiliates of the New School for Children, including education theorist Jonathan Kozol, the Store-Front Learning Center was located on 90 West Brookline Street in Boston’s South End. The Center sought to create a free and interactive learning environment that was relevant to the children and teens of the surrounding inner city neighborhood, increase parent and community involvement in the classroom, and establish a community-based teacher preparatory and in-service workshop training program. The school primarily catered to students ranging from pre-school to sixth grade, and had a strong Spanish bilingual education program.


Cohen, Muriel. “Trotter to Open, Board Heeds Pleas.” Boston Herald Traveler, September 3, 1969.

Citywide Coordinating Council Records, 1966-1979 (bulk 1975-1978). Boston College.

Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Education Materials, 1952-1984 (bulk 1966-1978). Boston College.


13.25 Linear Feet (13 containers )

2.7 Gigabytes (2 files with 84 minutes of audio)


The Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe collection of Boston education materials was created and compiled by parent and community activist Louise Bonar and Community District Advisory Council administrator Carol Wolfe. Materials reflect their work supporting the desegregation of Boston Public Schools from 1965 to 1978, as well as Bonar’s continued interest in experimental schooling and racial equality in education. The collection contains administrative records, clippings, articles, correspondence, fliers, meeting minutes, memos, newsletters, notes, printed materials, scrapbooks, legal documents, and subject files dating from 1952-1984 (bulk 1966-1978).


This collection is arranged in seven series: I. Citywide Coordinating Council; II. CDAC-CPAC; III. Model Demonstration Sub-system; IV. Parent councils; V. Publications; VI. Store-Front Learning Center; and VII. Subject files.

Series II. CDAC-CPAC is arranged in two subseries: A. Administrative records; and B. Meeting minutes and materials. Subseries A. is arranged alphabetically, and Subseries B. is arranged by date.


This collection was donated to Boston College by Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe in 1988.

Related Materials

Bonar, Louise. Protests of Parents: Family, Community, and Justice in the Era of School Desegregation oral histories. Northeastern University, University Library, Archives and Special Collections.

Citywide Coordinating Council Records, MS.1990.031, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Garrity, W. Arthur, Jr. Papers on the Boston Schools Desegregation Case, 1972-1997. University of Massachusetts, Boston.

School Department - Desegregation-era Records Collection, 1952 - 2004; bulk: 1975 - 2000, City of Boston, Office of the City Clerk, Archives and Records.


CDAC: Community District Advisory Council; 10 elected members, 10 appointed members. Dealt with district issues, supported RPCs, monitored schools.

CPAC: Citywide Parent Advisory Council; 2 elected representatives from each district, 1 white and 1 black, plus 2 Hispanic and 2 Asian reps citywide, all parents. Responsible for parent council elections, Parents United newsletter, CDAC support.

CWEC: Citywide Educational Coalition. Private non-profit advising parents.

ESAA: Can refer to either the Emergency School Aid Act or the similar Emergency School Assistance Act, though in this collection it is most frequently the former. Provided federal funding for desegregating schools.

ESEA: Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Funds primary and secondary education through standards and accountability; a precursor of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Title I of ESEA deals with financial assistance to local educational agencies who support disadvantaged or low-income children.

LWV: League of Women Voters. Louise Bonar belonged to the LWV of Boston.

MACE: Massachusetts Advisory Council on Education. Worked to improve public education across the state.

MDS: Model Demonstration Sub-system. Included the Trotter, Horace Mann, Lewis, and Copley Square Schools.

MDS PAC: Model Demonstration Sub-system Parent Advisory Council. Created as part of the Title I provisions. Both Laurence and Louise Bonar were members.

Phase II: The second phase of desegregation in Boston. Began May 10, 1975, with the comprehensive desegregation order issued by the Federal Court, which created the CCC, citizen participation groups, school-university pairings, a citywide magnet school district and several community school districts. The order also closed several schools and required busing and student assignments.

Phase IIB: Began May 1976. Continuity and stability emphasized.

ROAR: Restore Our Alienated Rights. An anti-busing, anti-desegregation group started by Boston activist and politician Louise Day Hicks.

TPA: Trotter Parent Association, at the William Monroe Trotter Elementary School.

Processing Information

Original order has been preserved wherever possible. Financial records, unrelated personal papers, duplicates, and printed materials readily available elsewhere were deaccessioned.

  • Publications and photocopies.
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Records related to Bonar's daughters, legal documents/correspondence, resumes, and Wolfe's W2
Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe Collection of Boston Education Materials
1952-1984 (bulk 1966-1978)
Stephanie Bennett and Alexandra Bisio
January 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States