Carver, George Washington

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African-American chemist and educator

Carver was born into slavery, to a "good" owner, Moses Carver; his mother was the only slave he had ever owned, and she was well-treated. His father, from a neighboring plantation, had been killed in an accident just before his birth. When his mother was stolen by slave raiders, George was still a baby and he and his older brother, Jim, were then raised by their owners as their own children.

When Carver was 10 he left home to find education and was fostered for a time by a childless Black couple, Andy and Mariah Watkins, but at 13 he left once again for more education, this time fostered in Fort Scott, Kansas, and Minneapolis by another childless Black couple, the Seymours.

He was denied admission to Highland University because of his race, but accepted at Simpson College, where he studied art. He then did a degree at Iowa State College of Agriculture and was the first African-American to graduate from there. He became one of the world's top agricultural and industrial chemists, most famous for his many inventions derived from peanuts (his research is the main reason for the importance of the peanut as a US crop), and as an educator at Tuskegee Institute.


Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992)
Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97
Dictionary of American Biography
"George Washington Carver, Jr.: Chemurgist." [Includes portrait]. Available at:
"Black History Month Biography." Available at:
"George W. Carver, 1861-1943, Agricultural Scientist." Available at:
Adair, Gene. George Washington Carver. (New York: Chelsea House, 1989) (Black Americans of Achievement)
Brooke, Aslan. "Proud History: George Washington Carver." Available at:


19th Century
20th Century
Education, Teaching, Libraries
Birth or Infancy
Orphaned (Both Parents)
Family Friends or Acquaintances
Priest, Religious, Teacher, Coach, Mentor, Patron, Apprentice Master or Owner
Others ("Strangers")
Trans-Racial, Trans-Tribal, International or Trans-Cultural Adoption or Fostering
Customary or Traditional Adoption, Informal and Extra-Legal Care
Child Left Care While Still a Child, but With New Parents' Blessing
Unmarried Mother
Posthumous Child (i.e., Born After Father's Death)
Birth Siblings Placed Together
Tracing Impossible or Birth Family Extinct
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