George Washington CarverInventor / Botanist
Born: c. 1860
Died: 5 January 1943
Birthplace: Diamond Grove, Missouri
Best known as: America's great peanut innovator
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, 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. His attempts to find crop alternatives to cotton led him to 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. Carver also worked with sweet potatoes, soybeans and pecans, among other plants, and is often credited with changing the face of agriculture in the American south.
Extra credit: Carver's exact birthdate is unknown; a Missouri census record from 1870 lists George Carver as 10 years old; a photo of that record can be found here... He was an accomplished artist who displayed paintings at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair... Carver is often credited with inventing peanut butter, but it seems others had created that product before Carver began his work with peanuts... He 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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