Warren Sawyer was born in Philadelphia in 1920, going to various schools across the area. In 1937, Sawyer became a Quaker, and when he was drafted to serve in the US military, sought and obtained conscientious objector (CO) status. During the war, Sawyer served as an attendent in mental hospitals, including the Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry, which had some of the worst conditions for its patients across the United States. After the war, Sawyer was involved in the Peace and Civil Rights movements, and had a successful career in business and real estate. Sawyer's papers have been donated to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.