Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

George Washington Carver National Monument

George Washington Carver National Monument was one of the first national park sites to highlight the life and work of a black American. The site preserves the farm where Carver grew up and includes a museum with displays and films about Carver's boyhood.

George Washington Carver National Monument
©National Park Service
The George Washington Carver National Monument honors the life of an educator
who helped boost the regional economy and the future of black farmers.

A successful educator, botanist, agronomist, and artist, Carver was born a slave on the Moses Carver farm in southwest Missouri in the early 1860s. The log cabin in which he was born was destroyed by a storm, but a log outline marks its location. As a baby, Carver and his mother were kidnapped by a band of Confederate soldiers. Carver was eventually found in Arkansas and returned to the farm, but he never saw his mother again.

Carver and his brother Jim were raised by Moses and Susan Carver as members of the family. Carver was a frail child who was often excused from doing the daily chores. With time on his hands, he would wander "day after the woods alone in order to collect my floral beauties and put them in my little garden I had hidden in brush...." Because of his skill with flowers, neighbors began calling him "the Plant Doctor." Today, a self-guided nature trail winds through the woods where Carver developed his love for plants.

Carver's 20-year struggle for formal education began when he was a boy. He was not allowed to attend the local church school, so at the age of 12 he moved to a nearby town to go to a school for blacks. The struggle paid off, and Carver eventually became a research botanist at Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State).

He left that promising career to work with Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, a somewhat risky move since it was not considered a very prestigious university at the time. There he taught botany and agriculture to the children of ex-slaves while developing practical new farming techniques.

In the South, many poor, one-horse farmers were bound to land that was exhausted from cotton production. George Washington Carver wanted to help these farmers by teaching them about soil-enhancing, protein-rich crops like soybeans and peanuts.

To do so, he passed out free, easy-to-read bulletins with information on crops and cultivation techniques, as well as recipes for nutritious meals.

George Washington Carver National Monument Information
Address: 5646 Carver Rd., Diamond, MO
Phone: 417/325-4151
Hours of Operation:

  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
  • closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day

Admission: Free

Learn about these other national monuments:

­Agate Fossil Beds National MonumentColorado National MonumentGeorge Washington Birthplace National MonumentNatural Bridges National MonumentScotts Bluff National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National MonumentDevils Postpile National Monument George Washington Carver National MonumentOcmulgee National MonumentSunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument and PreserveDinosaur National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentOregon Caves National MonumentTimpanogos Cave National Monument
Booker T. Washington National MonumentEffigy Mounds National MonumentGrand Portage National MonumentOrgan Pipe Cactus National MonumentTonto National Monument
Buck Island Reef National MonumentEl Malpais National MonumentHohokam Pima National MonumentPetroglyph National MonumentTuzigoot National Monument
Cape Krusenstern National Monument El Morro National MonumentHomestead National MonumentPinnacles National MonumentWalnut Canyon National Monument
Capulin Volcano National MonumentFlorissant Fossil Beds National MonumentHovenweep National MonumentPipe Spring National MonumentWupatki National Monument
Casa Grande Ruins National MonumentFort Frederica National MonumentJewel Cave National MonumentPipestone National Monument
Castle Clinton National MonumentFort Matanzas National MonumentJohn Day Fossil Beds National MonumentPoverty Point National Monument
Cedar Breaks National MonumentFort Stanwix National MonumentLava Beds National MonumentRainbow Bridge National Monument
Chiricahua National MonumentFossil Butte National MonumentMontezuma Castle National MonumentRussell Cave National Monument

Find out more about travel destinations in North America:



Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.