CPS Unit Number 143-01

CPS Unit Number 143-01

Camp: 143

Unit ID: 1

Title: Spring Grove State Hospital

Operating agency: MCC

Opened: 2 1945

Closed: 8 1946


CPS Unit No. 143, a Mental Hospital unit located at Spring Grove State Hospital in Catonsville, Maryland operated by Mennonite Central Committee, opened in February 1945 and closed in August 1946. Some men served as ward attendants while others performed roles in professional as well as maintenance work at the hospital.

Catonsville, Maryland, United States
Camp staff:

Directors: Edward Belan, Raymond Sala, Wain Eberly

The people:

Thirty-five men arrived to open the unit by July 1945.  During the life of the unit, forty-four men served, some were married.


Men in Mennonite camps and units, when entering CPS tended to report religious affiliation with various Mennonite denominational groups. 


On average they had completed 10.45 years of education when entering CPS, with fifteen percent having completed 1-3 years of college.  Another seven percent had either graduated from college or completed some graduate education.  Fifty-nine percent reported their occupations on entry into CPS as farming or other agriculture work.  Twenty-three percent when entering CPS reported occupations in technical and professional work or business management, sales and public administration (Sibley and Jacob pp. 171-72)

The work:

The assignees served as ward attendants, performed maintenance, professional and other work.

Camp life:

Superintendent S. W. Weltmer testified to his appreciation for the service provided by the unit.

. . . as a group and individually, their service has been uniformly efficient and entirely satisfactory.  They enabled us to carry on many of the activities for the comfort and welfare of our patients that would have had to be suspended entirely or greatly curtailed without their presence among us.  They entered their work with remarkable understanding and empathy for the unfortunates assigned to their care. (in Gingerich p. 242.)


For more information on this camp and other mental health and training school units, see Melvin Gingerich, Service for Peace: A History of Mennonite Civilian Public Service. Akron, PA: Mennonite Central Committee printed by Herald Press, Scottdale, PA 1949, Chapter XVI pp. 213-251.


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 also 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 on 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.