George Washington Carver
Inventions - History - Quotes - Film

George Washington Carver early photo young

George Washington Carver inventions are so familiar to us today that we take them for granted, yet we would be at a great loss without them.

It's hard to imagine the fate of Southern US agriculture if Dr. Carver hadn't promoted crop rotation, growing peanuts, soybeans, and sweet potatoes, while enhancing their market value by inventing hundreds of products using them.

Carver's invention of plant derived products, and teaching farmers how to improve their soil through crop rotation, are his greatest gifts to us. George's curiosity, determination, love of nature, and desire to help people were guiding factors in his life.


"Where there is no vision, there is no hope." GW Carver



Carver's Early Life

This great agronomist, agricultural chemist, and master integrator was born in 1864 near Diamond Grove, Missouri.

Infant George and his slave mother were kidnapped by Confederate night raiders. Farmer Moses Carver searched for and recovered baby George after the Civil War. George's mother was never found. Moses and Susan Carver raised George and his brother as their own children.

George fell in love with nature while growing up on the Carver farm. George developed a close understanding of, and connection with plants, earning him childhood nickname 'The Plant Doctor'.


"If you love it enough, anything will talk with you." GW Carver


Nature to Art

George taught himself to paint after seeing paintings at a neighbors house. He collected pigments from the land, made paints with these pigments, and began painting with brushes he made from found items.

This artistic interest would help Carver later in his pursuit of knowledge.


"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak, and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." GW Carver


Education under Segregation

At the age of 12, Carver moved away from his adoptive parents to Newton County in Missouri to study in a one room schoolhouse at the Lincoln School for Negro Children.

George worked as a farmhand for room and board at the Watkins' house next door to the school. After the Lincoln School George attended Minneapolis High School in Kansas.


"Our creator is the same and never changes despite the names given Him by people here and in all parts of the world. Even if we gave Him no name at all, He would still be there,within us, waiting to give us good on this earth." GW Carver


Simpson College
Art to Horticulture

In 1890 George entered Iowa's Simpson College as an art student. Carver's art teacher, Etta Budd, noticed the genius in George's plant art and advised him to transfer into horticulture. Ms. Budd may have thought horticulture offered more chance of success than art for a black man in the late 19th century.


"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in." GW Carver


Iowa State College of Agriculture
Bachelor and Master of Science Degrees

Carver transferred to the Iowa State College of Agriculture in Ames in 1891, becoming the first black student there. He was appointed as faculty member at Iowa State after completing his Bachelor of Science degree in 1894. George earned his Master of Science degree in bacterial botany and agriculture in 1896 at Ames.


"When I was young, I said to God, god, tell me the mystery of the universe. But God answered, that knowledge is for me alone. So I said, god, tell me the mystery of the peanut. Then God said, well, George, that's more nearly your size." GW Carver


Tuskegee Institute
Teaching, Helping, Inventing

George Washington Carver with his Tuskegee Institute Staff, 1902.

Booker T. Washington convinced Carver to move to Alabama as Director of Agriculture at the 'Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute for Negroes' in 1896. Arriving in Alabama in 1897, Carver advised local cotton farmers to rotate their fields with soil enriching crops; peanuts, peas, soybeans, and sweet potatoes. Farmers were unable to comply because banks would only loan seed money to grow cotton.

Cotton was king in the south until the boll weevil decimated the crop in the early 1900's. The boll weevil invaded all USA cotton crops by 1922, forcing southern US farmers and investors to embrace peanuts, soybeans, and sweet potatoes. George Washington Carver inventions using these three crops created profitable new markets for them.

In 1916, Coffee County agent John Pittman, and cotton merchant/banker Moultrie Sessions encouraged farmers in Coffee County, Alabama to grow peanuts. The transition from cotton farming to peanut farming created a profitable new era in southeast Alabama that benefited the soil, farmers, consumers, and the local communities throughout the 20th century.



Georg Washington Carver Inventions

George Washington Carver Inventions using Peanuts

  • Soaps - Laundry, Toilet, Antiseptic
  • Sweeping Compound
  • Massage Oil
  • Castor Substitute
  • Goiter Treatment
  • Laxatives
  • Lotions - Hand, Face
  • Creams - Face, Vanishing, Baby, Shaving
  • Face Bleach and Tan Remover
  • Shampoo
  • Oil for Hair and Scalp
  • Pomades - Scalp, Skin - US Patent 1,522,176
  • Face Ointment
  • Glycerin
  • Face Powder
  • Tetter and Dandruff Cure
  • Dyes for Leather
  • Dyes for Cloth (30 colors)
  • Wood Stains (17 colors)
  • Paints
  • Papers - White, Colored, Newsprint paper from vines, Kraft paper from hulls, Coarse paper from skins
  • Pesticide
  • Glue
  • Wood Filler
  • Metal Polish
  • Plastics
  • Axel Grease
  • Lubricating Oil
  • Lamp Oil
  • Diesel Fuel
  • Ink - Printers, Writing
  • Rubber
  • Coke (from hulls)
  • Washing Powder
  • Linoleum
  • Wall Boards (11 types)
  • Insulating Board (18 types)
  • Charcoal (from shells)
  • Nitroglycerin
  • Soil Conditioner



George Washington Carver Inventions using Sweet Potatoes

  • Stains
  • Dyes (73 colors)
  • Paints
  • Library Paste (5 types)
  • Alcohol
  • Rubber Compound
  • Writing Ink
  • Shoe Blacking
  • Fillers for Wood (14 types)
  • Synthetic Cotton
  • Synthetic Silk
  • Paper (from vines)


George Washington Carver Inventions using Soybeans

  • Stains
  • Paints


George Washington Carver Inventions using Clay

  • Paints and Stains - US Patent 1,632,365 US Patent 1,541,478


    "When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." GW Carver


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    Vintage Film with George Washington Carver


    This 1941 newsreel shows the NJ Variety Club parade (0:47), and we hear Dr. Carver speaking (1:26) at the Atlantic City, NJ. Variety Club Convention as he accepts their award.

    Although the preceding audio is intermittent, we are fortunate to clearly hear Carver in this film (1:26).










    This 1942 silent film shows George Washington Carver with Henry Ford, and Edsel Ford, at the Carver Memorial in Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. Henry and George are also filmed at the Ford Motor Company Nutritional Laboratory, commonly called the Carver Laboratory. George Washington Carver inventions earned him great respect and honor from contemporary inventors, Edison and Ford.

    Edison offered Carver a much higher paying job at Menlo Park as a research scientist. George refused Edison's offer, and stayed at Tuskegee Institute until Carver died on January 5, 1943.

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