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Center on Conscience and War Records

Identifier: SCPC-DG-025

Scope and Contents

The collection includes meeting minutes of the Board of Directors and Consultative Council (1943-1969), correspondence (1940- ), memoranda, literature and releases, financial records, statistics, subject files, newspaper clippings, photographs, motion pictures, and much other material. In addition to the administrative records of the Washington office, the 1940-1947 records include correspondence, reports, and publications of 151 Civilian Public Service camps, together with case files of men assigned to CPS camps and of the men who were reclassified or imprisoned. Additional case files covering the period 1949 to 1973 contain information about men who performed alternative service (1-W classification) and about men who sought help with problems relating to military service and/or classification. All case files about individual CPS men and women are restricted. Series titles were established by the organization and modified in 2006 by Swarthmore College Peace Collection (SCPC) staff.

Among the correspondents are the above-named executive directors and Roger N. Baldwin, Allen H. Barr, Charles F. Boss, JR., James A. Crain, Girven H. Culley, E. LeRoy Dakin, Henry A. Fast, Paul J. Furnas, Albert M. Gaeddert, Lewis B. Hershey, A. S. Imirie, Abraham Kaufman, Huber F. Klemme, Lewis F. Kosch, George Loft, Robert A. Lyon, Orie O. Miller, James P. Mullin, A. J. Muste, Mary B. Newman, Ray Newton, W. Harold Row, William T. Snyder, Lyle Tatum, Walter W. Van Kirk, Norman J. Whitney, Herman Will Jr., George Willoughby, and M. R. Higler.

Material in Part I was refoldered and reboxed by student assistants in 2003-2008. With the exception of Series A, material is still largely in the same order as it was when sent to the Peace Collection by NSBRO/NISBCO staff. For the most part, files in Part II and Part III have not been included in this reprocessing effort; partial finding aids for these Parts are available onsite at the SCPC.


  • Creation: 1940-2015


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Restrictions apply to any series that include files about individuals and that are from 1950- . Individual files from 1950-1964 are restricted until January 1, 2045, from 1965-1975 are restricted until January 1, 2056, and from 1980-2010 are restricted until January 1, 2090. Researchers using these materials must sign a form agreeing to anonymize personal information in any publications.

Physical Access Note

All or part of this collection is stored off-site. Contact Swarthmore College Peace Collection staff at at least two weeks in advance of visit to request boxes.

Historical Note

The Center on Conscience and War (CCW) is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to spread understanding of conscientious objection. It is sponsored by a broad coalition of religious groups and acts as a service agency for individual conscientious objectors and for churches and organizations interested in CO's. Founded in 1940 by the historic peace churches (the Society of Friends [Quakers], Brethren and Mennonites) to provide a unified approach to the federal government in matters concerning conscientious objection and alternative services, the organization went by the name National Service Board for Religious Objectors (NSBRO). From 1941-1947, the NSBRO office in Washington functioned as the administrative agency for the Civilian Public Service program in which over 12,000 men performed "work of national importance," primarily under the direction of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Brethren Service Committee (BSC), and the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). NSBRO served as a liaison with the Selective Service System and other federal agencies, disseminated information about the program, and provided counseling and other assistance to individual CO's.

After World War II, NSBRO continued to provide information on registration, classification, regulations, legislation, and court decisions concerning conscientious objectors and furnished assistance to those making appeals. In more recent years, the focus of activity was opposition to any form of registration, the draft, or compulsory national service and the provision of information and counseling for any persons experiencing problems with military service or concerned about convictions of conscientious objection. The organization's name was changed in 1970 to National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO), and to The Center on Conscience & War in Dec. 1999.

Paul Comly French was executive director of NSBRO during the war period, 1940-1946, followed by Ora Huston (1946-1948), A. Stauffer Curry (1949-1955), C. LeRoy Doty Jr. (1956-1958), J. Harold Sherk (1958-1969), and Warren W. Hoover (1969- ); later executive directors were: L. William (Bill) Yolton, early 1990s; Philip L. Borkholder and Raymond J. Toney, mid 1990s; J.E. McNeil, 1999?-2011; Maria Santelli, 2011-date.


670 linear ft. (Papers only)


Organization still in existence that was formed to aid conscientious objectors in World War II.

Historical Background: "File Code Explanations for Original Series for NSBRO Files"

Most series were designated by NSBRO staff. A document with explanation of the series was put together by Swarthmore College Peace Collection staff in the 1950s.

Note: These Series designations were changed in 2006; however, the material contained in each series is basically the same

  1. Series A and A-S: Contains the general administrative files, found in the following order: 1/ American Friends Service Committee; 2/ Brethren Service Committee; 3/ Mennonite Central Committee; 4/ National Service Board; 5/ Selective Service System. Each section contains: correspondence of Director and principal staff; publications; and, minutes and memoranda. For desired material not found in this section, look under General.
  2. Series C and C-S: Contains administrative material on camps in numerical order from 1 - 151. Under each unit is the following material: publication; general; Director; staff; administrative agency; Selective Service; Technical agency; meal requests; arrivals, discharges and transfers; equipment; corrections; sick and accident reports and work reports; camp administration correspondence; camp minutes.
  3. Series D and D-S: Contains the personal folders of men who had been in CPS and received a normal discharge. (Certain supplemental personal material was found in the general material under some of these names. Most of this supplemental material contains earlier or later correspondence regarding the individual. Occasionally material on these men was found in the general file under the name of the advisor or person assisting the man to secure proper classification.) If a man's folder is not found in Series D, look in Series D-S, R, R-S, or General.
  4. Series G: Contains general files arranged in alphabetical order by subject and individuals. Since the filing system was changed several times during the life of the files, some of the miscellaneous folders overlap. This is especially true when it is taken into consideration the time element. If you do not find your subject and/or person in the proper alphabetical classification, check to see if there is another folder containing the classification desired. Check should be made both on a subject and on the principal person working in the specific field. The miscellaneous alphabetical folders are arranged by grouping of subject, material, correspondence with an individual person, and chronologically. The folders may be arranged in any of these orders or in a combination of several of them.
  5. Series R and R-S: Contains personal material. This classifications includes the personal folders of men who sought change of classification, men in prison, men in CPS who did not receive a normal discharge, and men in the Armed Forces. If you do not find the desired folder look in Series D, D-S, R-S, or General. In some instances additional material will be found under the name in the General folder. This additional material is generally correspondence which arrived before the personal folder was made or after it was sent to storage.
  6. Series S and S-P: Contains correspondence and information on special projects anticipated and realized. This includes most of the correspondence of the Special Project Section.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of NISBRO, 1947-1948, with many subsequent accessions.

Separated Materials

  1. Photos were removed to the Photograph Collection
  2. Motion picture films and other audiovisual items were removed to the Audiovisual Collection (search online database here).
  3. Newsletters were removed to the Periodical Collection or, as in the case of CPS Camp newsletters (search online database here), to DG 002.
  4. The website/s of the CCW have been archived; click here for more information.
  5. A website that includes the CPS Directory (published by NSBRO and NISBCO) was launched in 2011; click here to look up men who served in Civilian Public Service, and for information on CPS camps, etc.

Bibliographic References

Guide to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 2nd ed., p. 47.

Legal Status

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Processing Information

Processed by archivists and student assistants; checklist created by Anne M. Yoder, Archivist, Nov. 2008.

There is a chart for finding Civilian Public Service material in the records in Part I. View the chart here.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2018: The folder list was migrated to ArchivesSpace in August 2018.

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting or requesting repoductions from Swarthmore College Peace Collection Library

500 College Avenue
Swarthmore 19081-1399 USA US
610-328-8544 (Fax)