George Washington Carver was born on a small farm in Missouri to a young slave couple. Never knowing his father (who died before he was born), and after being kidnapped from his mother at just a few months old, Carver was raised by his slave owners Moses and Susan Carver. As as child, Carver was frail and sickly, which is why he spent most of his time working beside Susan completing chores around the cabin. It was here where he learned many domestic skills such as cooking, cleaning and mending. He also spent a lot of time in the garden fascinated with plants and flowers. George Washington Carver received a formal education growing up which was rare for African-Americans at this time; as a young adult he went on to study agriculture and obtained a bachelor's degree in 1894 and a graduate degree in 1896.
As his career began to flourish, George Washington Carver worked closely with Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Carver conducted agricultural research which was significant in the development and improvement of farming practices for poorer farmers, both black and white. After years of growing cotton, the soil in the south wasn't that great. Carver encouraged farmers to grow peanuts to improve the quality of the soil.
George Washington Carver continued to make huge contributions to America. He developed many great uses and recipes for peanuts, sweet potatoes and other agricultural products. This was a huge contribution to the south; it helped to improve farmers lives and their diets. It also helped to revitalize the southern economy which was not doing too well at the time. When America was plagued with polio, Carver developed a special treatment using peanut oil that provided some relief for those suffering from the virus.
Carver is buried on the campus of Tuskegee Institute where he worked and lived for most of his life. He died on January 5, 1943. He is buried near the grave of Booker T. Washington. Soon after his death, Senator Harry S. Truman sponsored the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond. It is located on the farm where Carver was born.
Download my George Washington Carver activity set! It includes an informative coloring page, a mini science experiment and a tasty peanut butter recipe!
For a great literacy activity during Black History Month, visit Classroom Magic.