Four Men of Peace and an Episcopalian

Four Men of Peace and an Episcopalian intends to preserve the memories and histories of five of the 12,000 religious conscientious objectors who served in some of the 151 Civilian Public Service (CPS) Camps located across the United States during World War II. These particular oral histories took place in the early 1990s in California and Philadelphia.  While four of the interviews were originally used for a university project, all are now being made available to historians and the general public through various ways, including the National Home Front Project.

In 1992 and 1993, Dorothy Nichols videotaped these powerful oral histories of World War II religious conscientious objectors who served in Civilian Public Service Camps. These men served as fire-fighters, carpenters, road builders, tree planters, loggers, radio operators, surveyors, and more in the camps. Two worked in mental hospitals. Two of these men were used as human guinea pigs for medical experiments, including the Starvation Project. All went on later in life to serve their communities as men of conviction, compassion, and peace.

Dorothy’s interest in Civilian Public Service began as a child when she listened to many heated discussions about CPS between her father, Virgil Nichols, and her uncle Malcolm Nichols. Because of his hearing disability, Malcolm had been classified as 4F and would have never been chosen to serve in the military. However, he was required to serve in Civilian Public Service simply because he chose to register as a religious conscientious objector. On the other hand, Virgil served in the Army and each believed they had made the better decision.

Dorothy later researched Civilian Public Service at various archives in Washington, D.C., at Swarthmore College’s Peace Collection, and at the Quaker meeting house in Philadelphia. She also retained all of her uncle’s letters and documents that he carefully preserved about CPS during and after his detainment. Her oral history project includes interviews with James Dyer, James Griffith, Robert McCullagh, Lawrence Miller, and Malcolm Nichols.

For more information about Four Men of Peace and an Episcopalian, please view the documentary below or contact Dorothy Nichols at mlsanddjn@aol.com.