CPS Unit Number 132-01
Unit ID: 1
Operating agency: AFSC
Opened: 2 1944
Closed: 7 1946
CPS Unit No. 132, a Training School unit at the District Training School in Laurel, Maryland operated by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), opened in February 1944. When AFSC withdrew from CPS in March 1946, Selective Service operated the unit until it closed in July 1946. The men served as attendants and in other roles at the school.
Directors: John Peterbridge*
Men in Friends camps and units tended to report the greatest diversity in religious affiliation when entering CPS. A number in Friends camps reported no religious affiliation.
On average, men in Friends camps and units had completed 14.27 years of education, with sixty-eight percent reporting completion of some college, college graduation, or post graduate work. Forty-three percent of the men reported their occupation on entry to CPS as technical or professional work. (Sibley and Jacob pp. 171-72)
The chief difference between mental health units and training schools lay in the type of patient admitted. Training schools were devoted to care of those whose mental conditions derived from hereditary factors, or for whom there was little or no hope for cure. The work in training schools was very similar to that in mental hospitals.
The men served as attendants with the patients and performed other roles as needed.
Superintendent Dr. James Lewald participated in the developing national movement to raise standards of attendants’ work in mental hospitals. In 1945 Dr. Lewald was open to the work of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene and served as one of the advisers as the group formed. The advisers consulted with the foundation on professional matters, lending credibility to a mental health organization run by lay persons. Dr. Lewald brought his particular interests in mental deficiency to the group.
As part of the educational program at the unit, CPS men and interested CO women participated in a foreign relief training program at Laurel, taking courses in foreign language, history, culture and social work. Foreign relief training continued in hospitals and training school units from 1943 through 1945 operated by the church agencies even though Congress had shut down programs on college campuses through the Starnes Amendment to the Military Establishment Act in the summer of 1943. (Goossen p. 101)
For more information on women COs see Rachel Waltner Goossen, Women Against the Good War: Conscientious Objection and Gender on the American Home Front, 1941-47. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
See Alex Sareyan, The Turning Point: How Persons of Conscience Brought About Major Change in the Care of America’s Mentally Ill. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1994.
See also Mulford Q. Sibley and Philip E. Jacob, Conscription of Conscience: The American State and the Conscientious Objector, 1940-47. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1952.
Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Camp periodicals database.
For more in depth treatment of mental health and training school units, see Steven J. Taylor, Acts of Conscience: World War II, Mental Institutions, and Religious Objectors. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2009.
*Camp director changed to John Peterbridge to reflect personnel listing in '47 directory (Stephanie Cabezas, 06/14/13).