Civilian Public Service
The Civilian Public Service (CPS) provided conscientious objectors in the United States an alternative to military service
Alternative service
Alternative service is a form of national service performed in lieu of conscription for various reasons, such as conscientious objection, inadequate health, or political reasons. See "labour battalion" for examples of the latter case...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. From 1941 to 1947, nearly 12,000 draftees, willing to serve their country in some capacity but unwilling to do any type of military service, performed work of national importance in 152 CPS camps throughout the United States and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

. Draftees from the historic peace churches
Peace churches
Peace churches are Christian churches, groups or communities advocating Christian pacifism. The term historic peace churches refers specifically only to three church groups among pacifist churches: Church of the Brethren, Mennonites including the Amish, and Religious Society of Friends and has...

 and other faiths worked in areas such as soil conservation
Soil conservation
Soil conservation is a set of management strategies for prevention of soil being eroded from the Earth’s surface or becoming chemically altered by overuse, acidification, salinization or other chemical soil contamination...

, forestry, fire fighting, agriculture, social services and mental health.

The CPS men served without wages and minimal support from the federal government. The cost of maintaining the CPS camps and providing for the needs of the men was the responsibility of their congregations and families. CPS men served longer than regular draftees, not being released until well past the end of the war. Initially skeptical of the program, government agencies learned to appreciate the men's service and requested more workers from the program. CPS made significant contributions to forest fire prevention, erosion and flood control
Flood control
In communications, flood control is a feature of many communication protocols designed to prevent overwhelming of a destination receiver. Such controls can be implemented either in software or in hardware, and will often request that the message be resent after the receiver has finished...

, medical science and reform of the mental health system.


Conscientious objectors (COs) refuse to participate in military service because of belief or religious training. During wartime, this stance conflicts with conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 efforts. Those willing to accept non-combatant
Non-combatant is a term in the law of war describing civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities, as well as persons such as medical personnel and military chaplains who are regular soldiers but are protected because of their function as well as soldiers who are hors de combat ; that is, sick,...

 roles, such as medical personnel, are accommodated. There are few legal options for draftees who cannot cooperate with the military in any way.

Experiences of World War I

The conscription law of World War I provided for noncombatant service for members of a religious organization whose members were forbidden from participating in war of any form. This exemption effectively limited conscientious objector status to members of the historic peace churches: Mennonites (and other Anabaptist groups such as Hutterites), Religious Society of Friends
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 (Quakers) and Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren
The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination originating from the Schwarzenau Brethren organized in 1708 by eight persons led by Alexander Mack, in Schwarzenau, Bad Berleburg, Germany. The Brethren movement began as a melding of Radical Pietist and Anabaptist ideas during the...

. The law gave the President authority to assign such draftees to any noncombatant military role.

Conscientious objectors who refused noncombatant service during World War I were imprisoned in military facilities such as Fort Lewis
Fort Lewis
Joint Base Lewis-McChord is a United States military facility located south-southwest of Tacoma, Washington. The facility is under the jurisdiction of the United States Army Joint Base Garrison, Joint Base Lewis-McChord....

 (Washington), Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island is an island located in the San Francisco Bay, offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. Often referred to as "The Rock" or simply "Traz", the small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison, and a Federal...

 (California) and Fort Leavenworth
Fort Leavenworth
Fort Leavenworth is a United States Army facility located in Leavenworth County, Kansas, immediately north of the city of Leavenworth in the upper northeast portion of the state. It is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C. and has been in operation for over 180 years...

 (Kansas). The government assumed that COs could be converted into soldiers once they were exposed to life in their assigned military camps. Simultaneously the Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 was preparing to indict 181 Mennonite leaders for violating the espionage act
Espionage Act of 1917
The Espionage Act of 1917 is a United States federal law passed on June 15, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. It has been amended numerous times over the years. It was originally found in Title 50 of the U.S. Code but is now found under Title 18, Crime...

 because of a statement they adopted against performing military service. The draftees' refusal to put on a uniform or cooperate in any way caused difficulties for both the government and the COs. The treatment received by nearly 2000 of these absolute COs included short rations, solitary confinement and physical abuse so severe as to cause the deaths of two Hutterite
Hutterites are a communal branch of Anabaptists who, like the Amish and Mennonites, trace their roots to the Radical Reformation of the 16th century. Since the death of their founder Jakob Hutter in 1536, the beliefs of the Hutterites, especially living in a community of goods and absolute...


Preparation for World War II

After World War I, and with another European war looming, leaders from the historic peace churches met to strategize about how to cooperate with the government to avoid the difficulties of World War I. Holding a common view that any participation in military service was not acceptable, they devised a plan of civilian alternative service, based on experience gained by American Friends Service Committee
American Friends Service Committee
The American Friends Service Committee is a Religious Society of Friends affiliated organization which works for peace and social justice in the United States and around the world...

 work in Europe during and after World War I and also forestry service
Forestry service (Russia)
The forestry service was a form of alternative service offered to Russian Mennonites in lieu of military service in Russia from 1881 to 1918. At its peak during World War I, 7000 men served in forestry and agricultural pest control in South Russia...

 done by Russian Mennonites in lieu of military service in Tsarist Russia.

As the United States prepared for another war, the historic peace churches, represented by Friends who understood inner dealings of Washington D.C. politics, attempted to influence new draft bills to ensure their men could fulfill their duty in an alternative, non-military type of service. On June 20, 1940, the Burke-Wadsworth Bill came before Congress. The arrangements for conscientious objectors were almost identical to the World War I provisions.

Selective Service Act

The Friends representatives continued attempting to make the bill more favorable to the historic peace churches. The Burke-Wadsworth Bill passed on September 14, 1940, becoming the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940
Selective Training and Service Act of 1940
The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, also known as the Burke-Wadsworth Act, was passed by the Congress of the United States on September 17, 1940, becoming the first peacetime conscription in United States history when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law two days later...

. The influence of the churches was evident in section 5(g), which says in part:
The bill offered four improvements from the perspective of the churches over the World War I provisions. The exemption applied to conscientious objection based on religious training or belief, opening the door for members of any religious denomination to apply for CO status. Draftees turned down by local draft board could appeal under the new law. Assignments to work of national importance would be under civilian, not military, control. With COs under civilian control, violations of the law were subject to federal, not military, courts. From the military perspective, it removed the burden of dealing with thousands of uncooperative draftees and the concern that their philosophy would spread to others. Unlike harsher methods, the military found that this gentler approach resulted in about one in eight eventually transferring to military service.


When registration commenced on October 16, 1940, no structure was in place to handle thousands of anticipated conscientious objectors. Church representatives meeting with government officials learned that little thought had been put into the program, and the churches were advised to create a plan. Because the government wanted to deal with one body, not individual religious denominations, the National Council for Religious Conscientious Objectors
Center on Conscience & War
The Center on Conscience & War is a United States non-profit anti-war organization dedicated to defending and extending the rights of conscientious objectors. The group is located in Washington, D.C., and attempt to find creative ways to support anyone who opposes participation in war. The group...

 was formed as a liaison between the churches and the federal government. The historic peace churches outlined a plan that included running and maintaining CPS camps under church control. However, President Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 opposed any plan not involving military control over the draftees. To save their plan and retain civilian direction of the program, the churches offered to fund the camps. Aides convinced Roosevelt that putting the COs to work in out of the way camps was preferable to repeating the difficulties of World War I. Selective Service
Selective Service System
The Selective Service System is a means by which the United States government maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription. Most male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to have registered within 30 days of...

 and the peace churches agreed to a six-month trial of church supported and funded camps for conscientious objectors and thus Civilian Public Service was born.

The first camp opened on May 15, 1941 near Baltimore, Maryland. A total of 152 camps and units were established over the next six years. The federal government provided work projects, housing, camp furnishings and paid for transportation to the camps. The responsibilities of the churches included day-to-day management of the camps, subsistence costs, meals and healthcare for the men. When the young men arrived at the first camps, they started a six month experiment that would extend to six years.

Camp life

Religious Affiliation
Number Affiliation
223 Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

127 Christadelphian
Christadelphians is a Christian group that developed in the United Kingdom and North America in the 19th century...

1,353 Church of the Brethren
Church of the Brethren
The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination originating from the Schwarzenau Brethren organized in 1708 by eight persons led by Alexander Mack, in Schwarzenau, Bad Berleburg, Germany. The Brethren movement began as a melding of Radical Pietist and Anabaptist ideas during the...

78 Church of Christ
Church of Christ
Churches of Christ are autonomous Christian congregations associated with one another through common beliefs and practices. They seek to base doctrine and practice on the Bible alone, and seek to be New Testament congregations as originally established by the authority of Christ. Historically,...

209 Congregational Church
Congregational church
Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing Congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs....

78 Disciples of Christ
88 Episcopal
50 Evangelical
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

101 Evangelical and Reformed
Evangelical and Reformed Church
The Evangelical and Reformed Church was a Protestant Christian denomination in the United States. It was formed in 1934 by the merger of the Reformed Church in the United States with the Evangelical Synod of North America . After the 1934 merger, a minority within the RCUS seceded in order to...

157 German Baptist Brethren
409 Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

108 Lutheran
4,665 Mennonite
The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons , who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders...

673 Methodist
192 Presbyterian
951 Religious Society of Friends
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

149 Roman Catholic
76 Russian Molokans
44 Unitarians
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

1,695 Other religious groups
449 Unaffiliated
11,996 Total

Civilian Public Service men lived in barracks-style camps, such as former Civilian Conservation Corps
Civilian Conservation Corps
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25. A part of the New Deal of President Franklin D...

 facilities. The camps served as a base of operations, from which the COs departed to their daily assignments. Sites were located typically in rural areas near the agricultural, soil conservation and forestry projects where the work took place. A large camp such as number 57 near Hill City, South Dakota
Hill City, South Dakota
Hill City is the oldest existing city in Pennington County, South Dakota, United States. The population was 948 at the 2010 census. Hill City is located southwest of Rapid City on State Highway 16 and on U.S. Route 385 that connects Deadwood to Hot Springs...

, had five dormitories and housed as many as 172 men building the Deerfield Dam. Later, with projects located in urban areas, the men lived in smaller units, communal housing near their assignments. CPS men typically worked nine hours, six days per week.

Mennonite Central Committee
Mennonite Central Committee
The Mennonite Central Committee is a relief, service, and peace agency representing 15 Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Amish bodies in North America. The U.S. headquarters are in Akron, Pennsylvania, the Canadian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.-History:...

, American Friends Service Committee and Brethren Service Committee administered almost all of the camps. Association of Catholic Conscientious Objectors managed four camps and Methodist World Peace Commission two. Each camp was assigned a director responsible for supervising camp operation. The director managed the needs of the men, oversaw maintenance of the camp facilities, handled community relations and reported to Selective Service officials. Initially a pastor had the camp director role. Later, capable men from among the CPS workers directed the camps.

Besides the director, a matron, business manager and dietitian staffed a typical camp. An educational director was responsible for creating recreational, social and educational programs for the men. Church history, Bible and first aid were standard course topics. The strength of instructional programs varied from camp to camp, and after nine hours of physical labor, it could be difficult to motivate the men to attend classes. Most camps had libraries, some showed current films and camp number 56 (Camp Angel
Camp Angel
Camp Angel was Civilian Public Service camp number 56, one of many camps across the United States where conscientious objectors were given unpaid jobs of "national importance" as a substitute for World War II military service....

) near Waldport, Oregon
Waldport, Oregon
Waldport is a city in Lincoln County, Oregon, United States. The population was 2,050 at the 2000 census. The city is located on the Alsea River and Alsea Bay, south of Newport and north of Yachats.-Geography:...

 had a particular emphasis on the arts. Camps produced newsletters and yearbooks documenting their experiences.

The camp dietitian, with the help of men assigned as cooks, prepared all of the meals. Camps with large gardens provided their own fresh vegetables. Sponsoring congregations also supplied home canned
Canning is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a typical shelf life ranging from one to five years, although under specific circumstances a freeze-dried canned product, such as canned, dried lentils, can last as...

 and fresh produce. The camps were subject to the same shortages and rationing as the rest of the nation.

Sunday worship services were organized by the camp director if he was a pastor, by a visiting pastor, or by the CPS men themselves. While the historic peace churches organized the CPS, 38% of the men came from other denominations and 4% claimed no religious affiliation.

Men spent their free time doing crafts such as woodworking, rugmaking, leatherwork and photography. Outdoor activities included hiking and swimming. Men formed choirs and music ensembles, performing in neighboring towns when relations were good. The men earned two days of furlough for each month of service. These days could be saved to allow enough time to travel several hundred miles home or in some cases traded to other men in exchange for cash.

Men with wives and dependents found it difficult to support their families. Beyond a small allowance, the men did not get paid for their service, nor were their dependents given an allowance. To be closer to their husbands, women sought employment near their husband's assignment. Later, when jobs on dairy farms became available, families could live together in housing provided for farm workers.

Men who became uncooperative with the CPS system and were unable to adjust to the church-managed camps were reassigned to a few camps managed by the Selective Service System. These camps tended to be the least productive and most difficult to administer.
Men who felt compelled to protest the restrictions of them by the conscription law tried various techniques to disrupt the program, such as initiating work slowdowns and labor strikes. Routine rule breaking frustrated camp directors. The most difficult cases were given to the federal court system and the men imprisoned.


Churches were primarily responsible for financing Civilian Public Service, providing for the men's food, clothes, and other material needs. The churches also provided and paid for the camp director. The men received an allowance of between $2.50 and $5.00 monthly for personal needs. When jobs were available in surrounding farms and communities, those willing to work beyond their regular CPS jobs could earn extra spending money. The federal government spent $1.3 million on the CPS program. The men performed $6 million of unpaid labor in return.

Men who worked for farmers or psychiatric hospitals received regular wages, which they were required to give to the federal government. Objections to this practice developed immediately because the men felt they were helping to fund the war. A compromise was reached where the wages were put into a special fund that was unused until after the end of the war. At one point, church representatives attempted unsuccessfully to have these funds used for providing a living allowance for the men's dependents.

Types of work

The first Civilian Public Service projects were in rural areas where the men performed tasks related to soil conservation, agriculture and forestry. Later men were assigned to projects in cities where they worked in hospitals, psychiatric wards, and university research centers.

Soil conservation and agriculture

Anticipating the rural background of most men, the initial camps provided soil conservation and farming related projects. By August 1945, 550 men worked on dairy farms and with milk testing. Labor-intensive farming operations like dairies were short of workers and accepted COs to help fill the gap. Men assigned to the Bureau of Reclamation built contours
Contour plowing
Contour plowing or contour farming is the farming practice of plowing across a slope following its elevation contour lines. The rows formed slow water run-off during rainstorms to prevent soil erosion and allow the water time to settle into the soil...

 to prevent soil erosion, constructed 164 reservoirs and 249 dams. A sixth of all CPS work was performed in this area.

Forestry and National Parks

At Forest Service
United States Forest Service
The United States Forest Service is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass...

 and National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 camps, CPS men were responsible for fire control. Between fires they built forest trails, cared for nursery stock, planted thousands of seedlings and engaged in pest control. Campgrounds and roadways on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. It runs for 469 miles , mostly along the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains...

 and Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive is a 105-mile road that runs the entire length of the National Park Service's Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, generally along the ridge of the mountains. The scenic drive is particularly popular in the fall when the leaves are changing colors...

 of Virginia are products of CPS labor.

Hundreds of men volunteered for smoke jumping
A smokejumper is a wildland firefighter who parachutes into a remote area to combat wildfires.Smokejumpers are most often deployed to fires that are extremely remote. The risks associated with this method of personnel deployment are mitigated by an extremely well developed training program that has...

, showing their willingness to take great personal risks. When fire was detected by a lookout
Fire lookout
A fire lookout is a person assigned the duty to look for fire from atop a building known as a fire lookout tower. These towers are used in remote areas, normally on mountain tops with high elevation and a good view of the surrounding terrain, to spot smoke caused by a wildfire.Once a possible fire...

, smoke jumpers were flown directly to the site and dropped by parachute to quickly contain and extinguish the fire. From base camps scattered through the forests of Montana, Idaho and Oregon, the men were flown as many as 200 miles to fire sites, carrying firefighting tools and a two-day supply of K-rations. For larger fires, additional men, supplies and food were airdropped to expand the effort. Up to 240 CPS men served in this specialized program.

Mental health

As the war progressed, a critical shortage of workers in psychiatric hospitals developed, because staff had left for better paying jobs with fewer hours and improved working conditions. Understaffed wards at Philadelphia State Hospital had one attendant member for 300 patients, the minimum ratio being 10:1.
The government balked at initial requests that CPS workers have these positions, believing it better to keep the men segregated in the rural camps to prevent the spread of their philosophy.

Eventually the men received permission to work for the mental institutions as attendants or psychiatric aides. Individuals who found jobs at the rural camps unfulfilling and meaningless, volunteered for this new type of assignment. The mental health field promised to provide the work of national importance that the program was designed to produce. By the end of 1945, more than 2000 CPS men worked in 41 institutions in 20 states.

The CPS men discovered appalling conditions in the mental hospital wards. In an interview, a conscientious objector described his experience when he first entered a mental hospital in October 1942:
The CPS men objected to the mistreatment and abuse of patients and determined to improve conditions in the psychiatric wards. They wanted to show other attendants alternatives to violence when dealing with patients.
Frank Olmstead, chairman of the War Resisters League
War Resisters League
The War Resisters League was formed in 1923 by men and women who had opposed World War I. It is a section of the London-based War Resisters' International.Many of the founders had been jailed during World War I for refusing military service...


One objector assigned to a violent ward refused to take the broomstick offered by the Charge. When he entered the ward the patients crowded around asking, "Where is your broomstick?" He said he thought he would not need it. "But suppose some of us gang up on you?" The CO guessed they wouldn't do that and started talking about other things. Within a few days the patients were seen gathering around the unarmed attendant telling him of their troubles. He felt much safer than the Charge who had only his broomstick for company.

Outraged workers surveyed CPS men in other hospitals and learned of the degree of abuse throughout the psychiatric care system. Contacting church managers and government officials, the COs begin advocating for reforms to end the abuses. Conditions were exposed in institutions such as Cleveland State Hospital, Eastern State Hospital in Virginia and Hudson River State Hospital.
The reformers were especially active at the Byberry Hospital in Philadelphia where four Friends initiated the The Attendant magazine as a way to communicate ideas and promote reform. This periodical later became The Psychiatric Aide, a professional journal for mental health workers. On May 6, 1946 Life Magazine printed an exposé of the mental healthcare system based on the reports of COs. Another effort of CPS, Mental Hygiene Project became the National Mental Health Foundation. Initially skeptical about the value of Civilian Public Service, Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

, impressed by the changes introduced by COs in the mental health system, became a sponsor of the National Mental Health Foundation and actively inspired other prominent citizens including Owen J. Roberts, Pearl Buck and Harry Emerson Fosdick
Harry Emerson Fosdick
Harry Emerson Fosdick was an American clergyman. He was born in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Colgate University in 1900, and Union Theological Seminary in 1904. While attending Colgate University he joined the Delta Upsilon Fraternity. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1903 at the...

 to join her in advancing the organization's objectives of reform and humane treatment of patients.

Medical experiments

Draftees in Civilian Public Service became medical and scientific research test subjects in human medical experiments
Human experimentation
Human subject research includes experiments and observational studies. Human subjects are commonly participants in research on basic biology, clinical medicine, nursing, psychology, and all other social sciences. Humans have been participants in research since the earliest studies...

 under the direction of the Office of Scientific Research and Development
Office of Scientific Research and Development
The Office of Scientific Research and Development was an agency of the United States federal government created to coordinate scientific research for military purposes during World War II. Arrangements were made for its creation during May 1941, and it was created formally by on June 28, 1941...

 and the Surgeon General
Surgeon General of the United States
The Surgeon General of the United States is the operational head of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and thus the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government...

 at medical institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Yale and Stanford Universities, and Massachusetts General Hospital. These experiments involved a range of research topics, sometimes endangering the health of the COs.

Hepatitis is a medical condition defined by the inflammation of the liver and characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ. The name is from the Greek hepar , the root being hepat- , meaning liver, and suffix -itis, meaning "inflammation"...

During the 1940s the cause, method of communication and treatment of infectious hepatitis was not well understood. Experimentation began with COs working at psychiatric hospitals and was expanded to a major research project with 30 to 60 test subjects at the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

 and Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

. The men were inoculated with infected blood plasma, swallowed nose and throat washings and the human body wastes of infected patients, and drank contaminated water.

As a young surgeon, C. Everett Koop
C. Everett Koop
Charles Everett Koop, MD is an American pediatric surgeon and public health administrator. He was a vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and served as thirteenth Surgeon General of the United States under President Ronald Reagan from 1982 to 1989.-Early years:Koop was born...

 was part of the research team at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He relates his experience with CPS test subjects:
The hepatitis research was instrumental in determining a virus is responsible for the disease and that it is transmitted through human filth, serum and drinking water.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

During the early 1940s, quinine
Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid having antipyretic , antimalarial, analgesic , anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. It is a stereoisomer of quinidine which, unlike quinine, is an anti-arrhythmic...

 was the chief anti-malarial drug. Made from the bark of the South American cinchona tree
Cinchona or Quina is a genus of about 38 species in the family Rubiaceae, native to tropical South America. They are large shrubs or small trees growing 5–15 metres in height with evergreen foliage. The leaves are opposite, rounded to lanceolate and 10–40 cm long. The flowers are white, pink...

, quinine was in short supply during the war, so scientists began searching for an alternative treatment. The test subjects allowed themselves to be bitten by malarial mosquitoes and when the fever reached its peak in three to four days, were given experimental treatments. At the University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. It is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota system and has the fourth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 52,557...

, twelve CPS men underwent tests to determine the recovery period for those infected with malaria. This research documented the debilitating effects of the disease and the amount of time required for a complete recovery.

Common cold
Common cold
The common cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system, caused primarily by rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. Common symptoms include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, and fever...

and atypical pneumonia
Atypical pneumonia
Atypical pneumonia aka "walking pneumonia" is a pneumonia not caused by one of the more traditional pathogens, and with a clinical presentation inconsistent with typical pneumonia. It can be caused by a variety of microorganisms...

: A hundred CPS men participated with tests such that they inhaled or drank throat washings from soldiers with colds and pneumonia. This research proved that colds and some types of pneumonia are cause by a virus, not bacteria.

Minnesota Starvation Experiment
Minnesota Starvation Experiment
The Minnesota Starvation Experiment, also known as the Minnesota Semi-Starvation Experiment, the Minnesota Starvation-Recovery Experiment and the Starvation Study, was a clinical study performed at the University of Minnesota between November 19, 1944 and December 20, 1945...

: To study the effects of diet and nutrition, Dr. Ancel Keys
Ancel Keys
Ancel Benjamin Keys was an American scientist who studied the influence of diet on health. In particular, he hypothesized that different kinds of dietary fat had different effects on health....

 of the University of Minnesota Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene placed 32 conscientious objectors on a controlled diet. For three months they were given a normal 3200 Calories (13,388,800 J) diet. This was followed by six months of an 1800 Calories (7,531,200 J) diet, fewer calories than provided by the famine diet experienced by the civilian population in wartime Europe. The research documented the men's ability to maintain physical output and the psychological effects such as introversion, lethargy, irritability and severe depression. The study then followed the men's long recovery as they returned to a normal diet and regained the weight lost during the experimentation.

The study provided valuable insights into hunger and starvation and the results were made available to all major relief agencies concerned with postwar food and nutrition problems, helping to inspire the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...



Civilian Public Service men were released from their assignments and the camps closed during March 1947, nineteen months after the end of the war in the Pacific
War In The Pacific
War in the Pacific is a 2004 two-player turn-based computer war game published by Matrix games. It is a very large, complex, and detailed simulation of the Pacific Theatre of World War II, at both the operational and strategic level....

. Reforms in the mental health system continued after the war. The experience of Mennonite COs was instrumental in creating regional mental health facilities in California, Kansas and Maryland.

Lewis Hill
Lewis Hill
Lewis Hill was a co-founder of KPFA, the first listener-supported radio station in the United States, and the Pacifica Radio network....

, who was in CPS camp number 37 near Coleville, California, together with several other COs founded Pacifica Network
Pacifica Radio
Pacifica Radio is the oldest public radio network in the United States. It is a group of five independently operated, non-commercial, listener-supported radio stations that is known for its progressive/liberal political orientation. It is also a program service supplying over 100 affiliated...

 and KPFA
KPFA is a listener-funded progressive talk radio and music radio station located in Berkeley, California, broadcasting to the San Francisco Bay Area. KPFA airs public news, public affairs, talk, and music programming. The station signed on-the-air April 15 1949, as the first Pacifica Station...

 Radio in Berkeley, California, the world's first listener-sponsored radio station. Poets William Everson
William Everson
William Everson , also known as Brother Antoninus, was an American poet of the San Francisco Renaissance and was also a literary critic and small press printer.-Beginnings:Everson was born in Sacramento, California...

 and William Stafford were both in CPS camps. Actor Francis (Fritz) William Weaver
Fritz Weaver
Fritz William Weaver is an American actor and voice actor.-Life and career:Weaver was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Elsa W. and John Carson Weaver. His mother was of Italian descent and his father was a social worker from Pittsburgh. Weaver attended Peabody High School...

 spent time in the Big Flats (New York) CPS Camp number 46.

Men from the historic peace churches volunteered for relief and reconstruction after their release from CPS. The 1947 Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 was awarded to American and British Friends Service Committees for their relief work in Europe after the war. Mennonite Central Committee redirected its effort from camp administration to relief and reconstruction in Europe after the war.

Civilian Public Service created a precedent for the Alternative Service Program
Alternative Service Program
The Alternative Service Program is a form of alternative service for conscientious objectors in the United States within its Selective Service System.-Official definition:...

 for conscientious objectors in the United States during the Korean
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 and Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

s. Although CPS would not be duplicated, the idea of offering men an opportunity to do work of national importance instead of military service was established.

See also

  • Civilian Bonds
  • Conscientious objector
    Conscientious objector
    A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service" on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, and/or religion....

  • Jewish Peace Fellowship
    Jewish Peace Fellowship
    The Jewish Peace Fellowship is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization set up to provide a Jewish voice in the peace movement. The organization was founded in 1941 in order to support Jewish conscientious objectors who sought exemption from combatant military service...

  • Swiss Civilian Service
    Swiss Civilian Service
    Civilian service is a Swiss institution, created in 1996 as an alternative to military service.Any man who is unable to do compulsory military service for reasons of conscience can submit an application to be allowed to do substitute civilian service instead. The applicant is then forced to attend...

  • Zivildienst
    Zivildienst is the civilian branch of the national service systems in Austria and Switzerland. In Germany as well Zivildienst was the alternative service to military service until suspension of conscription in 2011...

  • Delamere Francis McCloskey, Los Angeles City Council member, 1941–43, opposed the camps

Further reading

  • Alexander, Paul (2008) Peace to War: Shifting Allegiances in the Assemblies of God. Telford, PA: Cascadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1-931038-58-4.
  • Van Dyck, Harry R. (1990) Exercise of Conscience: A World War II Objector Remembers. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books
    Prometheus Books
    Prometheus Books is a publishing company founded in August 1969 by Paul Kurtz, who also founded the Council for Secular Humanism and co-founded the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is currently the chairman of all three organizations. Prometheus Books publishes a range of books, including many...

    . ISBN 0-8797-5584-9
  • Schlabach, Mose A. (2003) Memories of CPS Camp Days, Volumes I and II. Sugarcreek, OH: Carlisle Printing.
  • Various (2002) I Couldn't Fight and Other CO Stories 1917—1960. Ephrata, PA.: Eastern Mennonite Publications.
  • Wittlinger, Carlton (1978) Quest for Piety and Obedience: The Story of the Brethren in Christ. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press. ISBN 0916035050
  • Cottrell, Robert C. (2006) Smokejumpers of the Civilian Public Service in World War II: Conscientious Objectors As Firefighters. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0786425334.

External links

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