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Picture of George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver, noted research scientist and chemurgist, was born near Diamond Grove, Missouri. An 1894 graduate of Iowa State University, he also earned his master's degree there and served as assistant botanist before joining Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute.

As a faculty member at the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Carver concentrated on developing uses for the peanut, the sweet potato, the pecan, and cotton -- crops vital to the South's economy. His discoveries, including 325 products from peanuts, 108 applications from sweet potatoes, and 75 products from pecans, did much to bolster American agriculture during the first half of the 20th century.

In 1896, Carver accepted a faculty position teaching science and directing agricultural research at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, where he remained on the faculty until his death. Carver's work in developing industrial applications from industrial products derived 118 products, including a rubber substitute and over 500 dyes and pigments from 28 different plants. He was responsible for the invention in 1927 of a process for producing paints and stains from soybeans, for which three separate patents were issued.

Just a few of the synthetic products developed by Dr. Carver include bleach, dyes, flour, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonnaise, meat tenderizer, shaving cream, synthetic marble, talcum powder, vanishing cream, wood filler and Worcestershire sauce.

Carver received numerous honors and substantial financial awards for his developments. As a rule, he put the proceeds into the development of the George Washington Carver Foundation, which still sponsors scientific educational programs.

Carver died of anemia at Tuskegee Institute on January 5, 1943, and was buried on campus beside Booker T. Washington. On July 14, 1943, five months after his death, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt honored Carver by dedicating $30,000 for a national monument to be dedicated to his accomplishments. As the first designated national monument to an African American in the United States, Carver's Diamond Grove, Missouri home has been preserved as a park.

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