George Washington Carver: An American Biography Summary

Rackham Holt


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Rackham Holt’s George Washington Carver: An American Biography gives details of Carver’s life from beginning to end, including the development of his research. Starting with the aftermath of the Civil War, the chapters in this continuous narrative have such titles as “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” These phrases are quoted from hymns and spirituals but reflect Carver’s experiences. They also connect personal events with the African-American community’s traditional vision.

The narrative begins with a Missouri frontier story of kidnapping, family separation, and rescue by white farmers who shared Reconstruction hardships with their slave family. The book ends in the research laboratory of the famous Tuskegee Institute, with the recognition of Carver’s scientific and agricultural achievements. The biography has no notes, but it contains a suggested reading list. Among the illustrations are a reproduction of the bill of sale for Carver’s mother, a mycological draw-ing, a painting of Carver, and photographs of the young Booker T. Washington, of the young Carver, and of his family and friends.

More thorough records begin with Carver’s college enrollment in 1890. Before that time, he had traveled, seeking out schools while surviving through odd jobs on farms and domestic work. After homesteading in Kansas, he enrolled at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, and continued at Iowa State College with the study of agriculture....

(The entire section is 443 words.)