Historians remember George Pappas as father of MHI

Historians in the News

Col. George Pappas was not one to glide gently into his golden years when he could make one final charge for the field of military history.

It was December 1973 and Pappas knew that within nine months he would face mandatory retirement after 30 years of Army service.

“That did not stop him from making one of the greatest acquisitions any institution had ever made,” said Richard Sommers, senior historian at the Military History Institute in Middlesex Township.

Using both his charm and dynamic personality, Pappas persuaded direct descendents of Union soldiers to turn over what many consider one of the greatest collections of Civil War photographs ever discovered, Sommers said....

Retired Col. George Pappas, founder of what is now known as the Army Heritage and Education Center, died Jan. 5 at his home in California. He was buried last Tuesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Pappas had just turned 90 on Dec. 26....

Rick Atkinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, currently writing his third installment in a trilogy about the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. He never met Pappas, but credits the man for starting an institution that has successfully organized a mountain of Army records into a resource scholars can easily use to conduct research.

“Somebody had to make sense of it,” Atkinson said. “Pappas began a process which has been ongoing. The past can be very elusive. The better organized and more professional the archives, the better for those doing the research.”...

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