George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver

Written by Benjamin Clanton, Government Publications

In recognition of Black History Month this year, Government Publications wants to bring attention to resources spotlighting the life and works of George Washington Carver. Carver, who was born into slavery in Missouri, is often studied by students due to his work with peanuts while at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama during the early 20th century. For this very reason, he is often called the ‘Peanut Man,’ as he gained national fame for his research on a number of crops while meeting numerous influential political figures and testifying before Congress in 1921 concerning a peanut tariff; there, despite the specter of segregation, he wowed by displaying a variety of uses for peanut based products. However, it is a disservice to Carver’s legacy to only look at this one aspect of his life and career.

Historian Mark Hersey argues that Carver should also be remembered for his efforts as an ecologist and conservationist, using his research and methods to encourage African American farmers to form a closer relationship with the land as a means of economic and social uplift. When one looks closer, it becomes clear that Carver ardently promoted the planting of crops such as peanuts and sweet potatoes to rotate away from cotton, which is a taxing crop to grow, and replenish the rich but depleted soil of his new Alabama home. Considered by many as both a man surrounded by mythology and an important historical figure in agricultural, environmental, and African American studies, Carver leaves behind an intriguing legacy that is worthy of further exploration. If you are so inclined to look more into his accomplishments, here are some resources available both online and through Government Publications and McWherter Library that can make that exploration a rich journey.

Online Resources

Resources Through Government Publications and McWherter Library

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