George Carver was born into slavery in Missouri in (probably) the early 1860's. His owner was a German immigrant named Moses Carver. When freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, his name changed from "Carver's George" to "George Carver." He worked on his former master's farm and went on to earn a high-school diploma at Minneapolis High School in Kansas. He was accepted to Simpson College in 1887, and then transferred to Iowa State University (then Iowa State Agricultural College) where he earned bachelor's (1891) and master's (1894) degrees. He used the name "George W. Carver" in his correspondence, and when requested to provide a middle name chose "Washington." While in college, he showed a strong aptitude for singing and art, as well as for science, and could possibly have chosen a career in any of the three fields.
In 1896 Carver came to Tuskegee University (then the Tuskegee Institute) at the request of Booker T. Washington and specialized in botany. He became director of agricultural research. Taking an interest in the plight of poor Southern farmers working with depleted soil, he became a promoter of crop-rotation and legume planting, which could restore nutrients to the soil. In order to make this enterprise profitable, he devised numerous uses for such products, including perhaps 300 uses for the peanut ranging from glue to printer's ink. He made similar investigations into uses for other products such as sweet potatos and pecans. He often said that if all other foods were gone from the earth, the peanut and sweet potato alone could provide sufficient food, in both nutrition and in variety of preparation, to sustain humans indefinitely.
George Washington Carver died January 5, 1943. As a legacy, he left behind the Carver Resarch Foundation at Tuskegee, founded in 1940 with his life's savings.
Carver Hall, at Iowa State University, is named after him.