George Washington Carver (ca. 1864–1943) is at once one of the most familiar and misunderstood figures in American history. In My Work Is That of Conservation, Mark D. Hersey reveals the life and work of this fascinating man who is widely—and reductively—known as the African American scientist who developed a wide variety of uses for the peanut.
Carver had a truly prolific career dedicated to studying the ways in which people ought to interact with the natural world, yet much of his work has been largely forgotten. Hersey rectifies this by tracing the evolution of Carver’s agricultural and environmental thought starting with his childhood in Missouri and Kansas and his education at the Iowa Agricultural College. Carver’s environmental vision came into focus when he moved to the Tuskegee Institute in Macon County, Alabama, where his sensibilities and training collided with the denuded agrosystems, deep poverty, and institutional racism of the Black Belt. It was there that Carver realized his most profound agricultural thinking, as his efforts to improve the lot of the area’s poorest farmers forced him to adjust his conception of scientific agriculture. Continue reading →
This insightful work chronicles the life of George Washington Carver, the renowned African American scientist and teacher. George Washington Carver: A Biography begins with a discussion of the political and social circumstances in Missouri where Carver was born into slavery, circa 1864. Readers will follow Carver through his formal education to his decision to accept Booker T. Washington's offer to teach and do research at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
The bulk of the volume focuses on Carver's career at Tuskegee, a career that spanned nearly five decades, from 1896 until Carver's death in January 1943.The book highlights Carver's major achievements, including his championing of crop rotation and the hundreds of products he created from peanuts, sweet potatoes, and other plants native to the South. In addition to Carver the scientist, students will meet Carver the man, who, for example, loved art and painted throughout his life.