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Civilian Public Service Personal Papers and Collected Materials

Identifier: SCPC-DG-056


Chiefly the personal papers of conscientious objectors assigned to Civilian Public Service (CPS) camps during World War II, such as correspondence, writings, memoirs, and reference material about CPS. Also included are records of or about various CPS camps and projects.


  • 1939-


Restrictions on Access

The records of the Big Flats CPS Camp #46 are restricted until the year 2025, the identity of the individual/s concerned may not be disclosed. Researchers wishing to use this material must sign a form agreeing to this stipulation before being allowed access to this part of the collection.

Historical note

Civilian Public Service (CPS) was set up to provide alternative service for conscientious objectors during World War II. It was operated primarily by the historic peace churches and the U.S. Selective Service, coordinated through the National Service Board for Religious Objectors.


14 Linear Feet (14 linear ft.)




This collection is organized into three series. Series I contains material that documents the experience of individuals connected with CPS, primarily authored during the years that CPS was in operation. The material appears in the boxes according to when it was given to the Peace Collection. Series II contains material about specific CPS camps and projects, collected from various sources. The items in this series may duplicate what is in other CO or CPS collections. Series III contains documents about CPS reunions, conferences about CPS held in later years, memoirs, and questionnaires from those who investigated CPS assignees etc. Certain restrictions, as noted, apply to the material in these series.

In December 2002, the records of the Big Flats CPS Camp #46 were added to Series II. This camp had been overseen by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which had kept the correspondence it received from the camp's directors, as well as its weekly and monthly reports, while the camp was in operation. The camp also sent many weekly and monthly forms and reports to the National Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NSBRO), which served as a clearinghouse for all CPS matters and a liaison between Selective Service and the Historic Peace Churches which ran many of the CPS camps. Thus, material on the Big Flats Camp can be found in the records at the Peace Collection of both the AFSC (DG 002) and NSBRO (DG 025: now called Center on Conscience and War).

However, upon examination of the boxes of records of the camp, received in 1963 [acc. 63A-029] from Earlham College, it was found that there was unique material in these files that went beyond what had been collected by the AFSC and NSBRO. The records include notes from conferences and camp meetings attended, correspondence, and reports that should have been sent to NSBRO but were not (for some reason not known now), among other material. It seems obvious that a special effort was made to keep these files from being destroyed. One staff person, Tom Bassett, went so far as to make a list of all the office files and to note what the disposition of these files should be once the camp shut down. It is not known, however, why the collection was given to Earlham College before it was sent to the Peace Collection. At some point, Peace Collection staff assigned the collection to DG 002 (American Friends Service Committee: Civilian Public Service records), but it was decided in December 2002 to transfer it to DG 056 because of the inconvenience of trying to fit more boxes into the logical place in DG 002.

The directors of the Big Flats Camp were Paul Johnson, Winslow Osborne, Thomas Potts, Stephen Cary, Roderic Davison, John Hollister, and Clarence Angell.

Other Finding Aids

For the catalog record for this collection and to find materials on similar topics, search the library's online catalog.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of various donors.

Bibliographic References

Guide to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 2nd ed., p. 17.


Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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