Carver, George Washington, Autographed Letter Signed, “G. W. Carver” Dated “January 22, 1932.” A full-page letter written in ink in Dr. Carver’s characteristic cursive script on the official letterhead of the Research and Experimental Station of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, founded by Booker T. Washington, “for the training of colored young men and women,” in Alabama, Robert Moton, Principal, William Carter, Treasurer, with the official envelope in Dr. Carver’s hand. Both the letter and the envelope are in fine condition.
A personal, intimate letter written to a male friend, Gready Porter, at Fort Gaines, Georgia, postmarked “January 23, 1932 6:00 P.M. Tuskegee Institute,” Dr. Carver wrote to express his concern over Mr. Porter’s well-being: “You have so many little set backs in your health from time to time that I believe you ought to take a few massages. I looked at you the other day and your circulation seemed poor.” He closes the letter with news of his up-coming lecture tour in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Colorado, in all “a 15 day trip.”
George Washington Carver (1861 ? – 1943) was born into slavery in in Diamond Grove, Newton County, near Crystal Place, now known as Diamond, Missouri thus beginning life as “Carver’s George,” the property of one Moses Carver, in 1861 or January 1864, during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Motivated by the eco-crisis of cotton as a collapsed cash crop, due to the destruction of the war, naval blockades, soil depletion and the boll weevil, Dr. Carver was motivated as a scientist and as a botanist to discover multiple uses for other cash crops that would not only provide nourishment for newly emancipated farmers but also create a market demand for edible crops from which industrial products could also be extracted. For his efforts, Dr. Carver was called “a black Leonardo” by Time magazine in 1941.
Dr. Carver began his undergraduate career as a piano and art student, with a pronounced talent for drawing plants and flowers with accuracy. He was encouraged to study botany at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames, Iowa, where he remained, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in 1894 with the thesis “Plants as Modified by Man” and later a Master’s Degree. Dr. Carver did work at the Iowa Agricultural Experimental Station in plant pathology and plant mycology and became the first black member of the College faculty.
Recruited to the Tuskegee Institute by Booker T. Washington, one of Dr. Carver’s first innovations was to take education to the farmers in his “Jesup Wagons,” so-named for the philanthropist Morris Ketcham Jesup. In the last two decades of his life, Dr. Carver enjoyed world-wide fame and attracted prominent people to serve on his Board of Trustees. The names listed on the letterhead of this letter are: William Jay Schieffelin, W. W. Campbell, Charles E. Mason, Julius Rosenwald, William M. Scott, Warren Logan, A. J. Wilborn, Robert R. Moton, Charles A. Wickersham, C.E. Thomas, Irving S. Merrell, Paul M. Warburg, William H. Carter, Edgar B. Stern, Henry S. Bowers, Winthrop W. Aldrich, John H. Drakeford, and one woman, Mrs. William G. Willcox.