CPS Unit Number 115-00

CPS Unit Number 115-00

Camp: 115

Unit ID: 0

Title: Human Guinea Pig Experiments

Opened: unknown

Closed: unknown


CPS Unit No. 115, a series of medical and research experiments in various locations under the auspices of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) with a cooperative group of the three historic peace churches, opened in 1943 and closed in October 1946.  The Brethren, Friends and Mennonites helped recruit volunteers for this series of experiments.  “Though careful to weed out any experiments that might be too closely related to war-work, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the Brethren Service Committee (BSC) agreed to provide oversight for numerous experiments around the United States”. (Yoder, 2010)  The most well publicized of those was the Minnesota Starvation Experiment directed by Ancel Keys at the University of Minnesota Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene.


Administered through agency officers.

The People:      

Approximately five hundred COs volunteered for medical experiments conducted by researchers at leading universities and hospitals in the nation.  Of those, some three hundred men took part in experiments exploring effects of nutrition under different conditions as a way to utilize limited food resources and seek ways to utilize limited food most effectively in relief and rehabilitation efforts in war devastated areasA series of experiments sought effective drugs to treat the epidemic disease of malaria, some procedures infecting the men, and then measuring the debilitating effects of the disease.

The American Friends Service Committee and the Brethren Service Committee served as oversight agencies for many of the studies, and the Mennonite Central Committee served in that capacity for one subunit.  A few Mennonites participated in Brethren and Friends projects, “but never more than eleven were to found in Unit No. 115 at any one time.  The Mennonites made their major contributions in other areas of service”. (Gingerich p. 270)


This description draws on the work of Anne M. Yoder, of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection on “Human Guinea Pigs in CPS Detached Service, 1943-1946, List Compiled by Anne M. Yoder, Archivist, November 2010”. She relied on “work reports sent to NSBRO and/or General Hershey by Mary B. Newman, director of Unit 115”.  (Yoder p. 2)


CPS Unit No. 115 subunit 00 is unknown for these CPS men due to insufficient information in their directory records.