George Washington Carver (1865?-1943) was an American scientist, educator, humanitarian, and former slave. Carver developed hundreds of products from peanuts, sweet potatoes, pecans, and soybeans; his discoveries greatly improved the agricultural output and the health of Southern farmers. Before this, the only main crop in the South was cotton. The products that Carver invented included a rubber substitute, adhesives, foodstuffs, dyes, pigments, and many other products.
George was born in Missouri and was a sickly child. He was orphaned when he was young, and was brought up by Moses and Susan Carver on their farm. He began school at age 12 and later attended Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, where he was the first black student. He transferred to Iowa Agricultural College to study science, earning a Bachelor of Science degree (in 1894) and a Master of Science degree in bacterial botany and agriculture (in 1896). He then became the first black faculty member at that college.
Booker T. Washington convinced Carver to teach at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute for Negroes (now called Tuskegee University) in Alabama, USA, where Carver headed the agricultural department for nearly 50 years. Carver donated his life savings to a fund designed to encourage agricultural research.