Clarenbach, David E. Papers

Span Dates: 1974-1992
Bulk Dates:
Volume: 6.4 cubic feet and 1 tape recording


Papers of David E. Clarenbach, a Democratic representative of Wisconsin's 78th Assembly District (Madison, Wisconsin). The collection reflects Clarenbach's political career from his election to the Assembly in 1974 through his bid for Congress in 1992. The bulk of the records are from 1984 to 1992 and consist of working legislative issue and committee files, including incoming and outgoing correspondence, speeches, notes, newsletters, press releases, copies of bills, political research data, memoranda, and clippings. Reflected in the papers is Clarenbach's interest in issues such as AIDS legislation, abortion, gay rights, women's issues, patients' rights, and the divesture of state funds in South Africa. His papers contain information on the concurrent lobbying effort with progressive church leaders.

Hist/Bio Note

Clarenbach was born in St. Louis, Missouri, moved to Madison, and studied politics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1971 to 1976. He was elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors in 1972, at age 18. In 1974, he was elected a Madison alderman, before being elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly that same year at the age of 21. In 1982, Clarenbach was widely credited with helping push through the first law in the country which prohibited discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. It was a landmark achievement for LGBT rights in Wisconsin and across the nation. His work complemented that of Leon Rouse who lobbied with progressive church leaders to promote Rouse worked together with various state legislators from Milwaukee. He did not cooperate with Representative David Clarenbach, even though Clarenbach was the primary legislator who had been promoting the legislation related to gay rights. The two disagreed about which bill had a greater chance of passing: the consenting adults bill or the non-discrimination bill.

Finding Aid

This collection number is Mss 1029; Audio 1441A.


The collection is held at the Wisconsin Historical Society. 816 State Street, 4th Floor Madison, Wisconsin


Wisconsin | AIDS