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Iowa History Daily: July 14 - George Washington Carver

Iowa History Daily: On (or around) July 14, 1864, George Washington Carver was born. Educated in Iowa at Simpson College and Iowa State, Carver stands as one of the most significant American scientists of the 20th century.

Born to enslaved parents, Carver’s early life proved tragic. His father died around the time of his birth, and he and his mother were kidnapped and taken to Arkansas before his first birthday. George, eventually found and returned to his mother’s enslavers, never saw his mother again. However, he persisted to self-educate himself during the post-Emancipation era.

After gaining admission to Highland College in Kansas only to find rejection upon arrival due to skin color, Carver walked to Iowa after hearing he might gain admission to Simpson College. In 1891, Carver headed up the road to Ames where he enrolled as the only African-American student at Iowa State. During a time focused on scientific inquiry and personal growth, Washington Carver thrived in Ames to become the first African-American to obtain a Master’s degree from Iowa State before gaining distinction as the university’s first Black faculty member. He also served as the first trainer of the Iowa State football team.

A major innovator in soil science, especially in regard to soil degradation, Carver’s scientific achievements led to national renown. After his stint at Iowa State, Carver joined the faculty of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama where he invented new uses for various crops including making soybeans into plastic, sweet potatoes into cereal, and from peanuts creating more than three hundred by-products such as milk, coffee, and shaving cream. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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