George Washington Carver

Facts about George Washington Carver

Born: c. 1860
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 still rare for African-Americans to reach those heights.

The son of a Missouri slave, George Washington Carver grew up to attend Iowa State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1894 and a master’s in 1896. He then joined the faculty of Booker T. Washington‘s Tuskegee Institute. Carver’s attempts to find crop alternatives to cotton led him to study and work with the peanut. Eventually he created more than 325 products from the humble legume, helping to create 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, among other plants, 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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