George Washington Carver was an African American scientist who won international fame for his agricultural research. He was especially noted for his work with peanuts. Carver made more than 300 products from peanuts, including a milk substitute, face powder, printer's ink, and soap. He also created more than 75 products from pecans and more than 100 products from sweet potatoes, including flour, shoe polish, and candy. He also developed a type of synthetic marble made from wood shavings and many other products. Carver's achievements with these crops persuaded many Southern farmers to grow them in place of cotton. This shift provided farmers with new sources of income. Carver also helped promote the interests of black people and improve relations between blacks and whites.
Carver was born a slave on a farm near Diamond, Missouri in 1864. Shortly after Carver's birth, his father was killed in an accident and his mother was kidnapped. He was taken in by Moses and Susan Carver, his owners until slavery was abolished in 1865. As a young boy, George showed interest in plants and wanted to learn more about them. The Carvers taught him to read and write. When he was about 11 years old, he moved to Neosho, Missouri, to attend a school for black children. For the next 20 years, Carver worked at various jobs to support himself and pay for his education. In 1890, he entered Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. He wanted to be painter but decided to pursue a career in agriculture instead. Carver believed such a career would enable him to help African Americans in the South, many of whom worked on farms. In 1891, he transferred to Iowa State Agricultural College, now Iowa State University, in Ames. Carver received a bachelor's degree in agriculture in 1894 and a master's degree in 1896.
In 1896, Carver moved to Alabama to join the staff of the Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, an industrial and agricultural school for African Americans.