Eli M. Oboler Library

Dr. Glenn E. Tyler - Biographical Sketch

BIOGRAPHY taken from ISU newsletter: Re:source Volume 4, No. 98


Glenn Edward Tyler, 77, 28 Purdue, died August 26, 1987, at a local nursing home following an extended illness resulting from a cancerous brain tumor.

He was born October 8, 1906 in Bayfield, Wisconsin, to Leon and Bessie J. Carver Tyler. The family soon moved to the iron-mining district of northern Minnesota, and he received his education in the town of Virginia, graduating in 1927 fourth in his high school class.

In 1932, he received a BS degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota. Unable to find and adequate secondary school teaching position in the Depression era, he spent the decade following graduation pursuing a banking career by continuing with the bank where he worked as an undergraduate, and by taking night classes at the American Institute of Banking.

By the time he entered the Army in 1943, he had decided to return to school to study for the doctorate in history. His extensive reading had convinced him that since history included every field of human endeavor, it was a discipline which would allow him the opportunity to follow all his varied interests.

When he was discharged from the Army late in 1945, he returned to the University of Minnesota where he was awarded an MA in history in 1947 and the Ph.D. in 1951. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the influence of Calvinism on the development of science in England in the 16th and 17th centuries, and he remained a lifelong student both of the natural sciences and the theological tradition of John Calvin.

After holding a series of research and teaching positions at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and the University of Minnesota, he accepted a post in 1955 at the rapidly growing Idaho State College where he became a part of the 2 member history department. He taught all of the courses outside of the field of American history.

In 1962, while Merrill Beal was working on his history of Idaho, Tyler served as acting chairperson of the history department, and he was appointed as the regular chairperson the following year. During the brief period when ISC experimented with a divisional organization, he was elected head of the Social Science Division by the members of the various departments involved.

During his period as chairperson, the history department experience rapid growth forcing an increase in the teaching staff to its all-time high of seven members. He retired in 1975, but continued to be active in department affairs.

He developed a tremendous love of reading during his early years. In a brief biographical note, he once said the "this preoccupation with the printed page undoubtedly saved me from many a less wholesome addiction during my formative years."

His reading habit led him to build a vast personal library, which is legendary in Pocatello. The majority of this collection estimated at between 15,000 and 20,000 volumes, will become part of the existing Glenn E. Tyler Collection of the Eli M. Oboler Library of Idaho State University.

The Tyler Collection is supported by the Glenn E. Tyler Book Fund, which was founded in 1981 through a bequest by Albert Edlin, a former member of ISU's College of Pharmacy. The fund primarily purchases books in the area of history and philosophy of medicine and science.

In 1975, his department honored him by naming its newly formed student history society for him.

Dr. Tyler was a member of the Presbyterian Church of Pocatello. He never married.

Last Modified: 01/12/2010 kk