John Warfield Exhibit

Dr. John Warfield


The end of World War II ushered in a flowering of scientific achievement in America. One of the many scientific pioneers to emerge during this era was Dr. John Nelson Warfield. Like many of his generation, he was called to serve in the military during World War II. But the war shaped Warfield in a unique manner, putting him on the path to a career in engineering and academia. He did pioneering work on early computers, both as a college professor, and as a top secret military researcher. His later career saw a turn to the study of systems science, and the creation of a revolutionary method of solving complex problems. Though he passed away in 2009, Warfield's professional peers and disciples around the world continue to leverage his groundbreaking work.

Dr. Warfield's defining achievements were in the fields of complexity and systems science. He spent the latter half of his career developing ways to understand and define complexity. He was particularly interested in methodologies designed to solve complex problems resulting from the growing integration of technology and bureaucracy in our society. He is best remembered for the development of Interactive Management, a computer-assisted group interaction tool used by organizations to solve complex problems. The basic methodology behind this process - as well as other key facets of Warfield's career - can be found in this exhibit.

The John N. Warfield Collection


Beginning in 1999, Dr. Warfield, with the faithful assistance of his wife Rose, donated his personal papers to George Mason University's Special Collections & Archives. Over the next decade, this collection grew to over 100 archival boxes. New items have been added as recently as January 2010. The collection contains correspondence, photographs, publications, research, and other fascinating artifacts amassed during the 84 years of Warfield's life. Researchers interested in studying Dr. Warfield's collection can search the collection with our electronic finding aid. Additional documents, including video files, can be found in the Mason Archival Repository Service (MARS) site. This online exhibition on the life of Dr. John Warfield contains but a fraction of the physical collection, and visitors are encouraged to visit these links for further information.

Using This Website


This website was constructed using Omeka, a tool developed by George Mason's Center for History and New Media to assist in the construction of digital archives and exhibits. Each photograph, letter, and document in this online exhibition can be viewed individually, including important metadata such as date of creation and location in the physical Warfield collection. Clicking an object brings up an informational page about the object. Clicking again will bring up a larger, high resolution version of the image. Some images contain scans of the reverse side of double-sided images, or of following pages. Long text documents are available as PDF's. This site is intended to be interactive and informative, so please...click on objects to view additional information!

Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries


Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) is the unit within the University Libraries charged with acquiring, documenting, preserving, and providing access to primary research collections and documents. SC&A also manages the non-current and archival records of George Mason University, is responsible for the administration of, and preservation and access to the University's theses and dissertations, and undertakes, through its Oral History program, the creation of audiovisual documentary resources. SC&A services, collections and programs support the teaching and research activities of George Mason University and also serve the community at large.

Documents in SC&A are authentic, original, often unique, valuable, fragile, or otherwise exceptional. Some have the capacity to evoke the past, and embody the transmittal of knowledge over time. Others simply function as the only record of an individual or corporate life. SC&A preserves the materiality of information as it has been recorded and distributed in its original format. SC&A also adds value to its holdings through selective digitization and through interpretive exhibits, instruction, and programming.