b. July 12, 1864
d. January 5, 1943
“Where there is no vision, there is no hope.”
Carver was born a slave in southwest Missouri. As an infant, he was kidnapped by slave raiders, and then abandoned when they discovered he suffered from whooping cough. His mother’s former owners, Moses and Susan Carver, adopted and raised him.
At the age of 13, Carver left home to attend a school for African-Americans. In 1890, he matriculated to Simpson College in Iowa, where he was the only black student. In 1891, he transferred to Iowa State College to focus on his passion for agriculture. After graduating, he served as the only black member of the Iowa State faculty. Carver was invited to head the agriculture department at the Tuskegee Institute, a university for black students founded by Booker T. Washington.
As a professor, Carver encouraged students to think creatively and independently. He emphasized self-sufficiency and resilience, and he pursued broad interests, including painting and religion. Throughout his life, he maintained a positive approach. Even in the face of overt racism, Carver said, “I can’t do my work if my heart is bitter.”
Carver is best known for his advances in the agricultural field. He devised and taught impoverished farmers uses for nutritious, commonly grown crops. He was the first scientist to discover multiple uses for peanuts, developing products as diverse as flour, ink and face cream. He experimented with developing rubber from the sweet potato. Carver’s discoveries are seen as the basis for many products, including biofuels and fruit-based cleaning products.
In 1916, Carver was offered membership in the Royal Society of London. In 1923, he was given a Spingarn Medal by the NAACP. Simpson College awarded him an honorary degree in 1932.Bibliography
"Black Leonardo." Time. 24 November 1991.
"Change Without Revolution ." Time. 5 January 1948.
"Dr. Carver Is Dead; Negro Scientist." The New York Times. 6 January 1943.
Fishbein, Toby. "George Washington Carver." e-Library@Iowa State University. 1 June 2010.
"George Washington Carver." The State Historical Society of Missouri. 1 June 2010.
"George Washington Carver.” The Field Museum. 24 May 2010.
"Science: Peanut Man." Time. 14 June 1937.
Published Works by George Washington Carver
How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption (1918)
How to Grow the Tomato and 115 Ways to Prepare it for the Table (1918)
How the Farmer Can Save His Sweet Potatoes and Ways of Preparing Them for the Table (1937)
George Washington Carver: In His Own Words (1991)
Books about George Washington Carver
The Story Of George Washington Carver by Eva Moore (1990)
George Washington Carver: The Peanut Wizard by Laura Driscoll (2003)
George Washington Carver: Scientist, Inventor, and Teacher by Michael Burgan (2007)
George Washington Carver by Tonya Bolden (2008)
The Man Who Talks With The Flowers: The Intimate Life Story of Dr. George Washington Carver by Glenn Clark (2010)
Ben Parker: George Washington Carver (1940)
History Channel: George Washington Carver Tech: Modern Marvels (2002)
Franklin Springs Family Media: George Washington Carver: An Uncommon Way (2010)