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Black History Month Spotlight: George W Carver

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver, black beauty history

Like many other inspirational black historical figures, Carver was born into slavery. George’s mother, Mary, was sold to a slave owner named Moses Carver around 9 years before George was born. George was born in either the January or June of 1864.

When George was still only an infant, he was kidnapped from the Carver Farm along with his mother and sister. They were kidnapped and sold on by a group of ‘slave raiders’ that were one of many around during the Civil War.

Moses, hired his neighbour to find them and bring them back. Unfortunately, the neighbour was only able to find George. Moses’ neighbour paid for George with one of Moses’ horses.

Moses Carver and his wife Susan would then go on to raise George in their home, teaching him how to read and write.

George the young scientist

As a young boy, George loved to experiment with plants. He would experiment with natural pesticides, soil conditioners and fungicides. Local farmers nicknamed him the “Plant Doctor” because he could tell them exactly what they needed to do to improve the health of their crops.

When George reached 11 years of age, he left the farm and went to a nearby town to attend an all black school. George was taken in by Andrew and Mariah Watkins, an African-American couple. Mariah, a nurse and midwife, was able to nurture George’s passion for science. She taught him about all different types of medicinal herbs, furthering his knowledge of plants.

George the inventor

George W carver- scientist

Later on in his life George was invited to the infamous Tuskegee Institute. He as invited for his contributions to science, especially his successful agricultural experiments. George was invited to experiment and teach. He taught at the institute for roughly 47 years.

George W Carver Tuskegee Institute

Whilst at Tuskegee, George was able to come up with several different uses for plants such as sweet potatoes, soybeans, pecans and peanuts.

George came up with 300 different uses for peanuts, other than peanut butter. At least 20 of them were cosmetic products.

The cosmetic products George created using peanuts are:
  • Shaving creams
  • Hand lotion 
  • Baby cream/ lotion
  • Hair and scalp oil
  • Glycerine
  • All purpose creams
  • Dandruff cure
  • Toilet soap
  • Antiseptic soap
  • Skin pomades
  • Peanut oil shampoo 
  • Face creams, powders, lotions & ointments
  • Face bleach/ tan remover (for obvious reasons)
  • Scalp pomade- like the ones Madam C.J. Walker made
  • Fat producing creams 
  • Vanishing cream (a cream that ‘disappears’ or looks matte once applied to your skin)

 

If you would like to find out about George’s other inventions, click here for his peanut products and here for more about his life and other inventions.


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