George Washington Carver: A Biography

By Guzman, Will | The Journal of Southern History, August 2012 | Go to article overview

George Washington Carver: A Biography


Guzman, Will, The Journal of Southern History


George Washington Carver: A Biography. By Gary R. Kremer. Greenwood Biographies. (Santa Barbara, Calif., and other cities: Greenwood, c. 2011. Pp. [xvi], 202. $35.00, ISBN 978-0-313-34796-2.)

George Washington Carver, renowned African American scientist, educator, inventor, artist, and fixture at Tuskegee Institute for forty-seven years, is the focus of yet another biography. The titles in the distinguished Greenwood Biographies series are designed for high school and public library use, written so as to keep the attention of students and meet the demands of teachers.

Gary R. Kremer, executive director of the State Historical Society of Missouri, follows up his George Washington Carver in His Own Words (Columbia, Mo., 1987) with this concise and clearly written biography of the eminent Missouri-born agronomist and botanist. Kremer explores in thirteen chapters Carver's early life as an orphan raised in a white household; his college years in Iowa; his research and academic career at Tuskegee, including his tumultuous relationship with Booker T. Washington; Carver's rising popularity due in large measure to his 1921 testimony on the peanut before the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee; his artwork and staunch Christian faith; and the waning years of his storied career.

Kremer reminds readers that Carver was amazing for earning a graduate degree in an era when most did not finish high school; his ability to keep his dignity during one of the most violent periods for African Americans in U.S. history; and his steadfast commitment to Tuskegee. Carver's greatest legacy, of course, was his support of growing peanuts, soybeans, pecans, and sweet potatoes. He did not revolutionize the southern economy, but he attempted to improve the quality of life for many poor southern farmers by offering substitutes for a cotton crop.

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