CPS Unit Number 102-01
Unit ID: 1
Title: Rosewood State Training School
Operating agency: ACCO
Opened: 5 1943
Closed: 7 1946
CPS Unit No. 102, a Training School unit located at Rosewood Training School in Owings Mills, Maryland operated by the Association of Catholic Conscientious Objectors (ACCO), opened in May 1943. When ACCO withdrew from CPS in October 1945, Selective Service operated the unit until it closed in July 1946. The men performed a variety of roles at the school, including cottage attendant.
Rosewood State Training School was located at Owings Mills, Maryland, the first and only Association of Catholic Conscientious Objectors (ACCO) mental hospital or training school unit.
Fifteen of the men from Camp Simon, CPS Camp No. 54 at Warner, New Hampshire who desired to stay together once that camp closed, opened the Rosewood unit. The group included not only Catholics seeking to continue in an ACCO operated unit, but Catholic liberals, Friends, and others with “antiestablishment spirit and attitudes” who had played a critical role in life at Camp Simon.
An additional seven men transferred back to Rosewood after having served at Trenton, North Dakota, and those men came with more “orthodox religious and ideological” perspectives and approaches to camp life, having organized regular chapel activities at Warner. Those men tended to view themselves as “sincere Catholics”.
The men tended to be quite well educated.
The men performed a variety of roles at the school, including cottage attendant.
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.
When CPS Camp No. 54 Camp Simon closed, the men first hoped that ACCO would open another camp or unit, and that they could transfer together. ACCO did open Rosewood, but not in time for direct transfer for those interested, as those from Camp Simon first served at CPS Camp No. 89 in Oakland, Maryland or at CPS Camp No. 94 in Trenton, North Dakota. However, the men maintained contact between Trenton and Rosewood through correspondence and, according to Zahn, “into their post-CPS lives as well”. (p. 213)
The Rosewood group continued to maintain a critical view of CPS and formally recommended that the ACCO withdraw from CPS. (See Zahn, Chapter 9, “Exodus and Aftermath” pp. 209-233)
Gordon Zahn served as assistant director at the school. After he left CPS in April 1946, he became an active critic of the treatment of the residents. He first wrote the Board of Visitors describing lack of recreational programs and facilities, requirements for residents to work long hours with little time off and being subject to “capricious, careless and unjust disciplinary actions" (to read more, see "Letter from Gordon Zahn" as listed under "Other Materials).
Zahn also wrote a series of articles in the Catholic Worker—“State School Unnatural, Maltreats Children”, “Slaves or Patients?”, and “Abandon Hope”. The Baltimore Sun published a series of articles on Rosewood and other Maryland institutions, which sparked investigations and reports by both government agencies and the Maryland Psychiatric Society. According to Stephen Taylor, it was unusual for state training schools to be the subject of exposés in the 1940s. (p. 269)
See also Alex Sareyan, The Turning Point: How Persons of Conscience Brought About Major Change in the Care of America’s Mentally Ill. Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 1994.
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.
Gordon C. Zahn, Another Part of the War: The Camp Simon Story, Amherst, MA: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1979.
Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Camp periodicals database.