Carver, George Washington, 1864?–1943, American agricultural chemist, b. Diamond, Mo., grad. Iowa State College (now Iowa State Univ.; B.S., 1894; M.A. 1896). Born a slave, he later, as a free man, earned his college degree. In 1896 he joined the staff of Tuskegee Institute as director of the department of agricultural research, retaining that post the rest of his life. His work won him international repute. Carver's efforts to improve the economy of the South (he dedicated himself especially to bettering the position of African Americans) included the teaching of soil improvement and of diversification of crops. He discovered hundreds of uses for the peanut, the sweet potato, and the soybean and thus stimulated the culture of these crops. He devised many products from cotton waste and extracted blue, purple, and red pigments from local clay. From 1935 he was a collaborator of the Bureau of Plant Industry. Carver contributed his life savings to a foundation for research at Tuskegee. In 1953 his birthplace was made a national monument.
See biographies by R. Holt (rev. ed. 1966) and L. Elliott (1966).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.