George Washington Carver

Facts about George Washington Carver

Born: c. 1864
Died: January 5, 1943
Best known as: America's great peanut innovator


George Washington Carver Biography

George Washington Carver was a celebrated botanist and inventor at a time when it was rare for Black Americans to reach those heights.

Born a slave in Missouri about 1864, near the end of the Civil War, George Washington Carver worked to educate himself in spite of the limited opportunities for freed Blacks in the area. He attended Iowa State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture studies in 1894 and a master’s in 1896.

He then joined the faculty of Booker T. Washington‘s Tuskegee Institute in 1896. Carver began working to find crop alternatives to cotton, which led him to study and experiment with the peanut. He ended up creating more than 325 products from the humble legume, helping to build demand for the plant and establish it as a major American crop.

Although George Washington Carver is often credited with inventing peanut butter,  it seems others had created that product before Carver began his own work with peanuts. Carver also worked with sweet potatoes, soybeans and pecans, and his work helped change the face of agriculture in the American south.

Extra credit

George Washington Carver’s exact birthdate is unknown; a Missouri census record from 1870 lists George Carver as 10 years old… He was an accomplished artist who displayed paintings at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair… George Washington Carver is no relation to President George Washington. According to the Wikipedia, Carver began to use the name George Washington Carver at Iowa State “to avoid confusion with another George Carver in his classes”… Carver was posthumously awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Iowa State in 1994… Another brilliant botanist of the same era was Luther Burbank.


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