February is Black History Month and today we are celebrating George Washington Carver, “The Father of the Peanut Industry.” Carver is known for his hundreds of peanut inventions, but we wanted to share a few interesting facts about George Washington Carver that you may not have known. You can also find resources for teachers here.
- Most people assume that Carver was born in Alabama but he was actually born in Diamond Grove, Missouri before the Civil War.
- Before sustainability was a pop culture topic, Carver promoted responsible farming practices, like planting peanuts in rotation with cotton since peanuts add nutrients to the soil.
- George Washington Carver was the first African American to enroll at Iowa State University. He later received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from there.
- After Carver received his master’s degree Booker T. Washington offered him a job at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama to serve as the Director of the Agriculture Department at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School.
- The George Washington Carver Museum in Tuskegee, Alabama, has a nutrition trail that features signs with nutritional facts and quotes from Carver.
- In 1916, Carver published a research bulletin, “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it For Human Consumption.” This bulletin includes several interesting ways to use peanuts like shampoo, mayonnaise, paints and coffee.
- Not only was Carver skilled in finding uses for peanuts, he also found new ways to use Alabama clay and sweet potatoes.
- Carver was one of the most prominent African Americans of his time and well-recognized for his work in plant research.
- George Washington Carver advised Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi on matters of agriculture and nutrition.
- George Washington Carver was the first African American to have a national park named after him. You can visit the park and his monument in Missouri.
- In addition to being an excellent scientist and inventor, Carver was also an accomplished pianist and painter. His artwork was exhibited at the World’s Fair in 1893.
- About George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “From oppressive and crippling surroundings, George Washington Carver lifted his searching, creative mind to the ordinary peanut, and found therein extraordinary possibilities for goods and products unthinkable by minds of the past, and left for succeeding generations an inspiring example of how an individual could rise above the paralyzing conditions of circumstance.”
- Many people think that George Washington Carver invented peanut butter, but contrary to popular belief peanut butter was around centuries before he was around. He did help popularize the food.
- He helped Henry Ford make peanut rubber for cannons for World War II.
- George Washington Carver was born into slavery in around 1864. The conclusion of the Civil War in 1865 brought the end of slavery in Missouri. Carver’s former slave owner Moses Carver and his wife, Susan, decided to keep George and his brother James at their home after that time, raising and educating the two boys. Susan taught George to read and write, since no local school would accept black students at the time.
- Carver published 44 practical bulletins for farmers.
For additional fun facts on George Washington Carver, please visit our website.
For additional teacher resources, click here.
Here are historic sites you can visit around the United States to learn about George Washington Carver:
Historic George Washington Carver Museum in Tuskegee, Alabama
George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center in Austin, Texas
George Washington Carver Museum in Dothan, Alabama