George Washington Carver Information

Information on Dr. George Washington Carver, the man who found a way to turn cotton picking into peanuts.

How did the cotton farmers survive when bugs called boll weevils started eating up all their cotton? Dr. George Washington Carver, a famous scientist found the answer to the dilemma. Carver, a black American botanist and chemist helped bring prosperity to great areas of the southern United States.

In July 1861,George Washington Carver was born a slave on a farm near Diamond, Missouri. He became orphaned while still a baby and spent his early childhood in the home of his former owner, Moses Carver. He adopted the name Carver when he grew up. Carver attended a one room school for black children nine miles from his home. In 1889 he entered Simpson College in Iowa and worked as a cook to earn his yearly $12 tuition.

Carver started out with the intention of becoming an artist but changed his mind and decided to study horticulture. In 1896 he earned his master's degree at Iowa State Agricultural College (Iowa State University). In that same year Booker T. Washington invited him to head the new department of agriculture at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute (Tuskegee University). Here he lived out the rest of his life creating a laboratory, a little at a time and continuing his research for the exhausted land in the surrounding area.

A good portion of the farming land of the south was drained because of the intensive cultivation of cotton and tobacco. Carver experimented with nitrogen-producing legumes, and discovered that growing peanuts and sweet potatoes improved the soil. He also discovered a new type of cotton, which became known as Carver's hybrid. Now, he had to find new ways to use the crops so he developed over three hundred by-products including oils, cereals, dyes, and soaps.

He started his famous "school on wheels:" a traveling classroom that taught Alabama farmers how to improve their soil. Soon, his notability grew worldwide and he was honored as a famous scientist and educator. Since he was so popular, people began to listen to what he had to say and he convinced some of the farmers in Tuskegee to grow peanuts in their ruined cotton fields. After the farmers agreed, they found that the ground and warm weather were perfect for growing peanuts.

Dr. Carver continued his experiments with peanuts and found they could be used for more than just eating. From the peanut he discovered how to make shampoo, instant coffee, ink, salad oil and vinegar. Today, Alabama is known as one of the chief states in producing peanuts.

Through Dr. Carver's knowledge and experiments, the farmers have learned better ways to improve their soil by going from cotton picking to peanut picking. In 1923 The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) awarded Carver with the Spingarn Medal. In 1935 the United States Department of Agriculture appointed him collaborator in the Division of Plant Mycology and Disease Survey of the Bureau of Plant Industry.

In 1940 he donated his own money to the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee. George Washington Carver died in Tuskegee, Alabama on June 5,1943 and he is still honored today as one of America's most distinguished scientist. Dr. Carver was known among people as a good and honorable man and his name today still demands respect.

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