October 6, 1999


Naming of the "George Washington Carver Center"


I am pleased to announce to all Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees that I have named the facility at 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Beltsville, Maryland, the "George Washington Carver Center." Dr. Carver, one of the great agriculture scientists, was known as the "Father of Chemurgy" and "The Peanut Wizard." He was an educator, scientist, teacher, agriculturist, and the Director of Agriculture at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. In August 1935, USDA named him to a research position with the Plant Disease Survey. He was active in this position until a year prior to his death. He was honored for his achievements in creative scientific research and for his contributions to the improvement of health and living conditions of the southern farmer.


George Washington Carver was born of slave parents on a farm near Diamond Grove, Missouri, in the mid 1860s. In his early years he was known as the "plant doctor" because he helped neighbors and friends with ailing plants. He learned to read and write at home and started his formal education at age 12. He enrolled at Simpson College in 1890, and though he excelled in art and music, in 1891 he became the first African American to enroll at Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, now Iowa State University, completing his Bachelor's Degree in 1895. In 1896 he received his Master's Degree and, because of his excellence in botany and horticulture, was invited by Booker T. Washington to join the faculty of Alabama's Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, as an instructor. At Tuskegee, he gained an international reputation for his research, teaching, and outreach.

George Washington Carver specialized in developing industrial applications of farm products. After the Civil War, when the soil of the southern cotton fields had been depleted, Carver promoted planting alternate crops (crop rotation) of peanuts and other crops. The market fbr these products was not diversified, so he worked to develop more than 300 uses for the peanut and hundreds of uses for other southern products such as the sweet potato, soybeans, and other cultivated crops. His products improved the lives of millions throughout the world. For example, his development of peanut milk is credited with saving the lives of hundreds of babies in West Africa.

World renowned for his scientific achievements, George Washington Carver received the NAACP's prestigious Spingarn Medal in 1923 and an honorary doctorate from Simpson College in 1928, and he was an honorary member of the Royal Society of Arts in London, England. He received recognition from a memorial society for Theodore Roosevelt in 1939 for restoring southern agriculture, and on July 14, 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt honored him with a national monument for his accomplishments. The monument dedicated to his memory is in a park near Carver's childhood home in Diamond Grove, Missouri. This was the first park designated as a national monument to an African American in the United States. He was also elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in 1977 and was registered in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990.

In 1935 USDA recognized Carver's scientific abilities by naming him to a research position with the Plant Disease Survey. His duties were to collect data on plant diseases in Alabama. He remained active in this role until less than a year prior to his death.

In addition to his scientific knowledge and accomplishments, George Washington Carver was, and remains today, an inspiration to others. Among those influenced by Carver was the son of one of his professors, a young boy by the name of Henry A. Wallace.

Wallace spent many hours learning about plants from Carver, eventually studying plant genetics at Iowa State and becoming a leader in the commercial development of hybrid seed corn. We now know Henry A. Wallace as a former Secretary of Agriculture and former Vice President of the United States of America. Henry A. Wallace was just one of many who were influenced by George Washington Carver or benefitted from his work and knowledge.

George Washington Carver died in 1943 and dedicated his entire estate to Tuskegee Institute from which the George Washington Carver Foundation was established. The purpose of the foundation is to support the work of scientists who were developing new uses for agricultural crops.

George Washington Carver shall always be remembered as one of the world's outstanding scientists.


Effective October 6, 1999, any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to the Federal facility located at 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Beltsville, Maryland, shall be deemed a reference to the George Washington Carver Center."



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