CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Eberly Professor of Civil War Studies at West Virginia University, will present the lecture “When Western Virginians Remained Loyal: West Virginia Statehood and the Union” in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The free program will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 21, and  is part of West Virginia’s official sesquicentennial events.

When residents of western Virginia remained loyal to the United States during the Civil War, they were among a small minority of white people living in slave states who refused to join the Confederacy. Sheehan-Dean will discuss their motivation, and provide reasons why some people stayed loyal to the United States.

Sheehan-Dean will explore what the United States represented to its loyal citizens. In addition, he’ll explain what Northerners thought about West Virginia statehood, the strategic importance of securing the territory of western Virginia, and how Americans in general understood what West Virginia’s loyalty to the Union meant.

Sheehan-Dean is a member of the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and a master’s degree and Ph.D. degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He is the author of Why Confederates Fought: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia (2007) and the Concise Historical Atlas of the U.S. Civil War (2008), and is also the editor of several books. He teaches courses on 19-century U.S. history, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and Southern History. Sheehan-Dean has conducted workshops on a variety of topics in U.S. history with elementary, middle, and high schools teachers across the United States. His current research compares the practices of violence in the U.S. Civil War with other civil and national conflicts in the mid-nineteenth century and puts them in context.

For additional information, contact Bryan Ward, assistant director of Archives and History, at (304) 558-0230 or

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

– 30 –