Friday, July 18, 2014

7 Questions with Dan Roper, Editor of Georgia Backroads Magazine

Dan Roper is the publisher and editor of Georgia Backroads magazine.  He and his wife, Lisa, and three children live north of Rome , Georgia .For more information about the magazine, go to its website

1. How and/or when did you get you hooked on history?
I don’t know when I became hooked on history.  I’ve loved history since before I can remember thanks to parents who loved both reading and history and imparted these things to their children, apparently beginning at about the time we were born.

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?
I spend much of my spare time reading history.  I spend most of my time at work writing about history, editing history articles, and assembling a magazine devoted to Georgia history.  So history plays a significant role in my life.

3. How is/How was history  a part of your professional life/career?   
I do not have an educational degree in history – mine are in forestry and law – but through shear love of history I’ve managed to find a career deeply involved in history.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?
I know there are a lot of profound reasons, but for me personally, I enjoy studying history because I like history.  Professionally, I consider it paramount that we present Georgia history fairly, accurately and thoroughly.  I feel a deep reverence in telling the stories of those who came before us (and those who are still with us).  There is a special feeling for those who died too young (for any of a variety of reasons, from battlefield deaths to more natural causes) to remember them whenever we tell their stories.

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?
I think I like all history.  Any part of our history that is told by a good historian (through a good book!) will be my current favorite, I supposed.  Probably the bulk of my history reading is in the Civil War and World War II, but that’s natural since more has been written about those two topics than perhaps any other.

6. How did Georgia Backroads come into being?
Jimmy Anderson, who at the time was the postmaster in Dahlonega, founded North Georgia Journal around 1984 as a genealogical publication.  Olin Jackson acquired the publication around 1987 or 1988 and re-named it Georgia Backroads in 2002.  I succeeded Olin Jackson in 2005.  The magazine has always focused on Georgia history, with nature, travel, and lifestyles complimenting the history.

7. What projects are you now working on or is next on the horizon?
We generally work two to three issues into the future, meaning the right now we’re preparing articles for the Winter 20014 and Spring 2015 issues.  The Autumn 2014 issue is currently in design.  We have lots of articles currently in preparation.  For instance, there is a story about a young man from Brunswick who graduated from Glynn Academy in June 1944, joined the marines, and was killed in action during the invasion of Iwo Jima nine months later.  There are pending stories about the collapse of the “Witham Banking Empire,” the “Freedmen’s Land Insurrection” in East Georgia during Reconstruction, and “The Women of the Jekyll Island Club.”  Personally, I am just beginning a story about my experiences and memories of hiking the trails of the Cohutta Wilderness Area over the past 32 years.  Most of our material comes from freelance writers.  We are fortunate to have many fine historians who are regular contributors.

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