Carver, George Washington

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Carver, George Washington,

1864?–1943, American agricultural chemist, b. Diamond, Mo., grad. Iowa State College (now Iowa State Univ.; B.S., 1894; M.A. 1896). Born a slave, he later, as a free man, earned his college degree. In 1896 he joined the staff of Tuskegee Institute as director of the department of agricultural research, retaining that post the rest of his life. His work won him international repute. Carver's efforts to improve the economy of the South (he dedicated himself especially to bettering the position of African Americans) included the teaching of soil improvement and of diversification of crops. He discovered hundreds of uses for the peanut, the sweet potato, and the soybean and thus stimulated the culture of these crops. He devised many products from cotton waste and extracted blue, purple, and red pigments from local clay. From 1935 he was a collaborator of the Bureau of Plant Industry. Carver contributed his life savings to a foundation for research at Tuskegee. In 1953 his birthplace was made a national monument.

Bibliography

See biographies by R. Holt (rev. ed. 1966) and L. Elliott (1966).

Carver, George Washington

(c. 1861–1943) agricultural chemist, educator, botanist; born near Diamond Grove, Mo. Born to slave parents, he began his education at age 14 and earned a B.S. and M.S. in agriculture (1894, 1896) from Iowa State College. He directed the agricultural research department at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama (1896–1943), teaching and pioneering an extension program of "movable schools" to train black farmers in agriculture and home economics. Aiming to revitalize and conserve depleted soil, Carver influenced the southern shift from single-crop to diversified agriculture by developing hundreds of products made from peanuts, sweet potatoes, and other crops, many of them commercially viable. He developed a hybrid cotton and was a noted collector of fungi. Working with severely limited resources outside the white scientific establishment, Carver published little more than his 44 Tuskegee Experiment Station bulletins (1898–1942) and, wishing his work to be widely available, obtained only three patents; nevertheless he became a researcher of international stature. He chose not to challenge the system of segregation that existed during his lifetime, but he became one of the chief models of what African-Americans could accomplish.
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Meet the "Peanut Scientist," George Washington Carver, the inventor and professor who made over 325 products out of peanuts.
Perhaps chief among these was one of the few genuine antecedents of the modern ecological agriculture movement: George Washington Carver, the Tuskegee scientist, whose emergence in the 1920s as the iconic Peanut Man obscures his earlier agricultural and environmental thought.
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At that point, most representation of blacks in history books was only in reference to the low social position they held as slaves and their descendants, with the exception of George Washington Carver.
Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Beltsville, Maryland 20705.
A sampling of names ranges from the less familiar, such as Beulah Louise Henry, known as Lady Edison, to such giants as Niels Bohr, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Peter Cooper Hewitt, Ben Moreell, and George Washington Carver, to name but a few.
Many people today know George Washington Carver (1861-1943) largely from the myths that have grown around him.
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