About Glen Kyle
Hometown: Blue Ridge
Length of time in Northeast Georgia: All my life, except for college
Education: Bachelor’s degree in history and master’s degree in military history, both from North Georgia College & State University
Occupation: Director, Northeast Georgia History Center
Most interesting job: Jousting
Family information: Wife, Priscilla; two sons, Brendan, 8, and Andrew, 2
Each Monday, “5 Questions” asks someone in our community to answer five questions about their lives. If you know someone who would be a good subject for this feature, send their name and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glen Kyle is a native Northeast Georgian and an expert on the history of our region, knowledge that comes in handy in his job as director of the Northeast Georgia History Center. Today, The Times asks Kyle five questions about the region’s past and about the History Center.
1. What is it about our region’s history that remains fascinating to so many?
For those born and/or living here, I think it’s the universal desire to know about where you’re from. We’re lucky to be in a region with such a rich and diverse past; perhaps not always a happy past but always an interesting one. I think the region’s connection with the Cherokee plays a significant role in that fascination, as does the interaction between them and the Europeans who came to settle here.
And, of course, our history has been shaped to large extent by the geography of the region, and few areas of the country are as beautiful as this one. The resources and opportunities have made this area a land of promise, attracting people for literally thousands of years.
2. What new displays would you like to see the center take on in the future?
I’d like to see us take a couple of different directions. First, we plan on taking steps to have our exhibits address the diversity of the population of the region to a much greater degree; so many museums are struggling with this issue, but I want us to be able to secure enough funding so that we can take the lead on that issue. Integrating the stories of ALL our ancestors into the History Center’s exhibits will be an ongoing priority.
More specifically, though, I’d love to see us take a closer look at the Civil War, since we’re in the midst of the sesquicentennial. Not the classic “battles and leaders” treatment, though; I want to look at the dynamics of the home front here in southern Appalachia, because even though no armed forces of any size came through Northeast Georgia, the area was still wracked by the effects of the war.
3. If the Doc came to you with his time-traveling Delorian, what time period would you visit and why?
Believe it or not, I’d go to 11th century Europe. I’ve been drawn to the medieval era for as long as I can remember, and the culture and events from that time have always fascinated me. Kings, knights, cathedrals and castles, Crusades, the feudal system ... I’ve loved it and studied it all for years, but since there’s not a lot of medieval history in northeast Georgia to work with, the topic has to stay within the realm of “hobby” rather than “profession.”
4. What historic figures would you like to spend time chatting with?
Everyone who was in Philadelphia in 1776. We’ve made our Founding Fathers into idealized, mute, stone statues but I’d love to have a talk, a real talk, with them. How shy was Thomas Jefferson? Was George Washington’s presence really that awe-inspiring? Could Benjamin Franklin tell a joke in person as well as he could with his pen? Was John Adams truly the greatest orator of his age?
While it would be enlightening to simply be a fly on the wall while they were in Independence Hall conducting the business of the Continental Congress, it’s the after-hours discussions in pubs and coffeehouses that I would love to be a part of.
5. What do you see as the role of museums in 50 years?
That’s really the Big Question the profession is trying to answer right now; current efforts by many seem to be trending toward the digitization of collections and exhibits, electronic field trips, podcasts ... all of those are good ideas, and we should be doing those, but I personally think we shouldn’t abandon what we’ve always been: a physical place that preserves “stuff” and puts it on display.
There are lots of amazing technologies available to help teach and contextualize about the material culture of the past, but it’s the Power of the Object that people can really connect with, to get a real glimpse of the past. I like to think that preserving and sharing the artifacts of history will become more important than ever in the next 50 years.