MC’s Astor prepares for Civil War anniversary with book

While most people were making plans for how to ring in 2010, Dr. Aaron Astor was looking ahead to 2011.

In 2011, Astor, assistant professor of history at Maryville College, will participate in numerous events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. Personally, he’ll celebrate the publication of his book on the border states (Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware) and the Civil War and Reconstruction by LSU Press.

The working title of Astor’s book is Belated Confederates: Black Politics, Guerilla Violence, and the Collapse of Conservative Unionism in Kentucky and Missouri from 1860-1872. It is expected to go on sale early in 2011 as part of LSU Press’ “Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War” series.

Astor’s book began as his dissertation for a doctoral degree in American History from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

“What I found was just enthralling and understudied,” said Astor, explaining that historians have discussed Reconstruction in the Deep South in great detail but have not studied Reconstruction in the border states.

Recognized for his expertise in the subjects of border states and the Civil War, Astor has been asked to present conference papers and share his research among peers. Most recently, he participated in the Southern Historical Association’s annual meeting in Louisville, Ky. One of three presenters assembled for a session on Reconstruction in Kentucky, Astor’s presentation was entitled “No Gun, No Vote: Violence and Voting in Kentucky’s First Interracial Elections.”

Last October, Astor applied for a large humanities grant that would help fund the creation of a web-based geographical information system (GIS) project that would map the loyalties of East Tennessee during the Civil War. He hopes this will be a collaborative project with genealogists and local historians throughout the area. He also plans to enlist Maryville College students for data collection.

“I think that will be a great opportunity for Maryville College history students, because this is the kind of research historians do,” Astor continued.

Astor, a native New Jersey, joined the Maryville College faculty in 2007. He enjoys frequenting the Rocky Branch Community Center in Walland, where he plays mandolin and talks with the “old timers” about their ancestors.

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