American educator and an outstanding innovator in the agricultural sciences. Carver was born of slave parents near Diamond, Missouri. He left the farm where he was born when he was about ten years old and eventually settled in Minneapolis, Kansas, where he worked his way through high school.
Following his graduation in 1894 from Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now Iowa State University), Carver joined the college faculty and continued his studies, specializing in bacteriological laboratory work in systematic botany. In 1896 he became director of the Department of Agricultural Research at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University), where he began an exhaustive series of experiments with peanuts. Carver developed several hundred industrial uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans and developed a new type of cotton known as Carver’s hybrid. His discoveries induced southern farmers to raise other crops in addition to cotton. He also taught methods of soil improvement.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Carver was awarded the Spingarn Medal in 1923 by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1935 he was appointed collaborator in the Division of Plant Mycology and Disease Survey of the Bureau of Plant Industry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1940 he donated all his savings to the establishment of the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee for research in natural science. Carver died at Tuskegee, on January 5, 1943. His birthplace was established as the George Washington Carver National Monument in 1943.