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Richard G. Trefry Archives Exhibits

American Public University System’s Richard G. Trefry Archives contain documents and items that represent the history, development, and progress of the institution as its recorded memory.

Browse Exhibits (10 total)


This collection showcases the history of wargaming by bringing together rule books and maps from various different war games from all over the world to demonstrate the evolution of wargaming during the 19th century.  

Classic examples of war games have existed for centuries, taking the form of head-to-head strategy games such as Go or Chess. In the 17th Century, Christopher Weikhmann made modifications to the game of chess, mostly expanding the size of the board and the amount of pieces being played. He called it the "King's Game." Further modifications were made to this example but they all revolved around a chess-like board. 

It was not until 1811 when a Prussian Baron, Leopold Georg von Reisswitz, developed the prototype for what would become the first modern wargame, Taktisches Kriegs-Spiel (Tactical War Game), or what will just come to be known as Kriegsspiel (War Game). His son will come along in 1824 and refine the rules and revolutionize the way militaries go about understanding, teaching, and making preparations for war. The Reisswitzes moved the earlier games from modified chess boards and into a sand box initially, where life like terrain could be used and blocks stood in for regiments. The sandbox would be replaced by the more practical topographical map. This way a war game could simulate conflict near anywhere as long as you had a map. Kriegsspiel also featured the use of an impartial umpire who would make rulings during game play. 

The Prussians (and later the German Empire) maintained a near monopoly on wargaming throughout the rest of 19th Century. Utilizing Kriegsspiel in their military academies and clubs would spring up around Germany, where military men would get together to play the game and hash out tactics. One instructor, General Verdy du Vernois, would call for an abandonment of the rules of the game and allow players to play free of rules and calculations. This came to be known as Free Kriegsspiel, while the classic game was referred to as Rigid Kriegsspiel. 

During the 19th Century, other nations would translate and adopt the Kriegsspiel Rules. Not really until the second half of the century would you have countries offering their own variants to the Kriegsspiel model, but still holding close to the general concept. The American Kriegsspiel (1882) and Strategos (1880) are two such American examples.   The 20th century would bring an explosion in popularity to wargaming, both inside and outside of the military, but these 19th century antecedents set the precedent and structure for the games that came after them. By understanding how these nations used wargames in their military preparations and planning, we gain a deeper knowledge of the wars and military conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries. 

The collection boasts access to digital copies of the original Taktisches Kriegs-Spiel, the younger Reisswitz's rules, Anleitung zur Darstellung Militarishcer Monover, as well as Verdy du Vernois's Beitrag zum Kriegsspiel and an English translation by the American Capt. Eben Swift entitled A Simplified War Game. Examples of British and American war games from the century are also available. This is an ongoing collection and the hope is to keep pulling together as many examples of 19th century war games as available online. Next year, we will be bringing you additional war games from the 20th century.

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APUS Observatory

This collection brings together a number of photographs taken by the innovative APUS Observatory and features different categories of astronomical images including star clusters, solar system objects, galaxies and nebulae. 

The APUS Observatory sits atop the university's Information Technology building on the APUS campus in Charles Town, WV. Since 2015, the observatory has played an integral role in the University's Space Studies program. The 22.5' dome houses a Planewave CDK24 telescope which is equipped with a SBIG STX-16803 CCD camera. The telescope is fully remote-controlled and utilized by faculty and students to perform their original astronomical research and for educational purposes.  

Students are able to link remotely to the telescope and work with online faculty to learn how to acquire images of the Moon, stars, and planets that can be downloaded to their computers. The images collected by the telescope are used in the classroom as well as for laboratory instruction by faculty. The telescope is used by graduate students in the Space Studies program to collect original telescopic data for their research and thesis projects. The telescope is scripted to conduct autonomous supernova searches by patrolling dozens of galaxies throughout the night. Primary research conducted by the telescope involves variable star research, exoplanet transit photometry, and supernova searches. 

This is an active collection so be sure to check back periodically as more and more images are added to the collection.

For more information about the APUS Observatory and the Space Studies program, visit the APUS Center for Space Studies website.

20th Century Military History

IHC_Rescue Mission Report_8.1980.pdf

For America, the 20th Century saw a remarkable amount of military involvement from its reluctant entrance to the First World War on through to its part in the Kosovo War at the end of the century with many major wars and conflicts in the intervening years.

In many respects, the history of America's military over the course of the previous century is the history of America itself. It was a century of conflicts and gaining a better understanding of those conflicts and America's involvement will provide a deeper knowledge of the country. 

Thanks to the generous donation of long-serving APUS Board of Trustee member and retired Army LT GEN Richard G. Trefry's personal papers, we can better tell the story of this history. GEN Trefry's long service in the Army lasted from WWII until after 9/11, and his personal papers cover a wide breadth of the 20th Century.

The Trefry Archives are working to cull a number of specific collections that will help students and researchers to tell the history of America's military history of the 20th Century. 

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Henry Bothin Maas Lithographs

Etching of TBF Grumman Avenger

The Henry Maas lithographs of World War II aircraft are reproductions of Maas’s original dry-point etchings and are a part of a series of 30 plates made after 1945. These lithographs were collected and printed by the artist in 1976 under the series name, United States Air Power, 1939-1945. They depict various aircraft designed and used by the United States and her allies during World War II.

Born in Wisconsin on November 4, 1903, Maas moved to the San Francisco area in the 1920s. He was actively engaged as a free-lance artist from 1924 to WWII, creating general illustrative work for various advertising agencies and publications such as Standard Oil’s Bulletin. He specialized in aviation art. After WWII, Maas established a home studio working in other types of media: pencil, watercolor, and oils, with his primary focus still being aviation. He passed away on September 22, 1994.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University donated this collection to APUS in 2013.

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Academics at APUS: Education, Growth, and Success


Providing high quality higher education is an essential part of American Public University System's Mission. Since the University's founding in 1991, APUS has supported student scholarship and successful academic programs. APUS' academic achievements, student-body growth, and institutional milestones are represented in this Richard G. Trefry Archives Exhibit, Academics at APUS: Education, Growth, and Success. The items featured in this exhibit are a small sample of the University's academic awards, catalogs, programs, and student experiences.

Information provided by materials in this exhibit is not current. For the most up-to-date APUS information, please visit the University’s website.

If there are additional documents or information that you would like to contribute to the collections or this exhibit, please reach out to

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Awards of Excellence: APUS Achievements

Brownfield Renewal Award Ranson - Charles Town

From American Public University System's inception as American Military University (AMU) in 1991 to present day, the University has achieved significant milestones and unmatched accomplishments. These range from academic awards to business partnerships and green initiatives to student organization recognition. The Awards of Excellence: APUS Achievements exhibit proudly showcases a sample of the recognized accomplishments of the University.

If you are interested in researching additional accomplishments or expanding the archival collection, please contact University Archivist Laura Donahue at

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Commencement through the Years: Celebrating Graduates Then and Now


American Public University System’s Commencement is a special time for APUS. It is a chance for students, faculty, and staff to meet in-person and celebrate their impressive achievements. Commencement is made possible with help from dedicated APUS staff and volunteers. This Richard G. Trefry Archives exhibit chronicles the University’s past commencements, from the first graduation in the summer of 1996 when one student received their degree at the American Military University in Manassas, Virginia to today, celebrating thousands of graduates each year at the Gaylord National Convention Center at National Harbor.

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APUS and Military Educators: The History of the Influence on Security and Military Education

Richard G. Trefry in Uniform

American Military University, created in 1991, began with just a single Master’s Degree Program in Military Studies. American Public University System has since developed many security and military programs with the help of veteran faculty, a large military student population, and dedicated staff.

This featured exhibit highlights the influences military education has had on our friends, faculty, students, and staff and how that shaped the current security and military programs here at APUS. With donations of personal papers from Board of Trustees Member Lt. Gen. Richard G. Trefry, papers and photographs from Association of the United States Army, and documentation of APUS security and military programs over the last 25 years, the Richard G. Trefry Archives exhibits the history of the influence on security and military education.

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APUS in Charles Town: A History Told through University Archives

Etter Hall as Charles Town General Hospital

This exhibit displays the growth of American Military University, the creation of American Public University System, and the history of the University’s historic buildings in Charles Town, West Virginia. 

AMU reorganized into American Public Education, Inc. resulting in the establishment of APUS in 2002. The restructuring of AMU and the creation of American Public University transformed the University. The student population was growing and APUS moved headquarters from Manassas, Virginia to Charles Town. The University acquired 19th century buildings and restored them for modern office use, while preserving those historic properties. The changes are documented in archival papers and photographs, and tell the history of APUS in Charles Town.

Information provided by materials in this exhibit is not current. For the most up-to-date APUS information, please visit the University’s website.

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Early AMU


American Public University System’s history began with the founding of American Military University on June 11, 1991. The university has grown exponentially since its beginnings, from having 5 graduates in 1995 to over 100,000 students today. The Richard G. Trefry Archives has a collection of items from the early days of AMU, from graduation photographs and programs to university newsletters, to curriculum advertisements. The Archives contain an array of items that document the growth of the university, from the once distance learning school for military officers to the online university it is today.

Information provided by materials in this exhibit is not current. For the most up-to-date APUS information, please visit the University’s website.