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Two parts to this...

The Selective Service requires registration of males through age 25, so
I would expect that a base retention period of "until age 26" applies
(I suppose you'd need to collect date of birth in order to impose this
retention). Since the law requires reistration from age 18 until age
26, an eight year retention may also make sense, assuming that a CO
registers with you at age 18. Since some persons may register as COs at
their "age of reason", I suppose you could look at the age in which a
child can make decisions for himself (which is probably real variable
from place to place, but likely no earlier than age 10 -- thus a 16
year retention).

So all that is muddy. And to make it even muddier, the Selective
service maintains records of all registrants
<http://www.sss.gov/records.htm> back to WWI.

There seems to be a considerable number of Web sites that talk about CO
status, so you may wish to consult Google for some sampling. In
general, it would seem that the more an individual documents about
their beliefs, the better their case -- and church records are a very
good starting point.

So the next part is likely the archival one. These feel like fairly
significant historical records. Depending upon the content of these
records, I suspect that they may hold interest for scholarly research.
I think my gut reaction would be to retain these permanently, unless
the information is so sketchy as to be worthless (a registry of
signatures with no other identifiers or comments). And if these are
truly files with correspondence and detailed information about the CO,
I think you're sitting on a treasure trove for the right researcher.

As an aside, in doing some poking around it is interesting to note that
CO status is generally only granted to individuals who oppose war in
any form (this seems to be the legal basis for CO status). Objecting to
the current war does not seem to be sufficient cause, although various
religious and peace organizations recognize a variety of statuses. And
perhaps that is the interesting angle of research -- to draw
conclusions about the relative "popularity" of a given military action
based upon the number of filings and the backgrounds of the filers.

This site <http://co.quaker.org/> appears to be maintained by a group
of Quakers and appears to have fairly authoritative links to a variety
of organizations.

War is a horrible thing. Unfortunately it is also, on occasion, a
necessary evil when more peaceful measures cannot bring about justice,
security, and lasting peace. I pray that our country is not forced to
send its sons and daughters to foreign lands to die and that reason
prevails upon those who advance the cause of evil in this world.

While I suspect that we will not all agree on who or what country is
promoting war, I think we can all agree that harmony and peace without
fear is a far better outcome for the world as a whole.

Humming the tune from "I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect
harmony..." <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ccmphtml/colaadv.html>
<http://www.countrygoldusa.com/teach_world_to_sing_MU.html>

Patrick Cunningham, CRM

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