George Washington Carver

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George Washington Carver : biography

1864 – 5 January 1943

In December 1947, a fire broke out in the Carver Museum, and much of the collection was damaged. Time Magazine reported that all but three of the 48 Carver paintings at the museum were destroyed. His best-known painting, displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, depicts a yucca and cactus. This canvas survived and has undergone conservation. It is displayed together with several of his other paintings.

Carver appeared on U.S. commemorative stamps in 1948 and 1998, and he was depicted on a commemorative half dollar coin from 1951 to 1954. Two ships, the Liberty ship SS George Washington Carver and the nuclear submarine USS George Washington Carver (SSBN-656) were named in his honor. 

In 1977, Carver was elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. In 1990, Carver was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1994, Iowa State University awarded Carver Doctor of Humane Letters. In 2000, Carver was a charter inductee in the USDA Hall of Heroes as the "Father of Chemurgy".

In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed George Washington Carver on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amherst, New York. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-963-8.

In 2005, Carver’s research at the Tuskegee Institute was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society. On February 15, 2005, an episode of Modern Marvels included scenes from within Iowa State University’s Food Sciences Building and about Carver’s work. In 2005, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri, opened a George Washington Carver garden in his honor, which includes a life-size statue of him.

Many institutions honor George Washington Carver to this day. Dozens of elementary schools and high schools are named after him. National Basketball Association star David Robinson and his wife, Valerie, founded an academy named after Carver; it opened on September 17, 2001, in San Antonio, Texas. from the Carver Academy website

Personal life

Carver never married, but at age forty, he began a three-year courtship with Miss Sarah L. Hunt, an elementary school teacher and the sister-in-law of Tuskegee Institute Treasurer Warren Logan, which lasted until she took a teaching job in California.Kremer, Gary R., George Washington Carver: A Biography, Greenwood, 2011, ISBN 0313347964, p. 68

When he was seventy, Carver established a friendship and research partnership with the scientist Austin W. Curtis, Jr, a much younger graduate of Cornell University who had some teaching experience. Carver bequeathed to Curtis his royalties from an authorized 1943 biography by Rackham Holt.Rackham Holt, George Washington Carver: An American Biography, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1943. Quote: "He [Carver] believed that there was something providential in the coming of this young man [Austin], so intensely serious about his work and extremely competent at it, who was at the same time a genial companion; he was proud of him and loved and depended on him as his own son . . . . And the affection was returned in full measure. Mr. Curtis accompanied him everywhere, seeing to his comfort, shielding him from intrusion, and acting as his official mouthpiece."

After Carver died in 1943, Curtis was fired from Tuskegee Institute. He left Alabama and resettled in Detroit. He manufactured and sold peanut-based personal care products.On Curtis’ later life, see "Austin W. Curtis Interviewed by Toby Fishbein in Detroit, Michigan, March 3, 1979": Transcript in Iowa State University Special Collections, George Washington Carver File, Box 2, RS: 21/7/2.

Early years

Carver was born into slavery in Diamond Grove, Newton County, near Crystal Place, now known as Diamond, Missouri, possibly in 1864 or 1865, though the exact date is not known.Linda McMurry (1982), George Washington Carver: Scientist and Symbol, pp. 9–10, New York: Oxford University Press (ISBN 0-19-503205-5)Some sources say 1864. Carver’s exact date of birth remains uncertain. His master, Moses Carver, was a German American immigrant who had purchased George’s parents, Mary and Giles, from William P. McGinnis on October 9, 1855, for $700. Carver had 10 sisters and a brother, all of whom died prematurely.