Memories of George Washington Carver
Oral Histories Interviews
Interview with Austin W. Curtis, Assistant to Carver, 1935-1943
Detroit, Michigan, March 3, 1979
Conducted by Toby Fishbein
TF: Did he always wear some living thing in his lapel? We have many pictures...
AWC: Yes, there was always a flower or a piece of evergreen, dependingon the season of the year. But it was never anything artificial. It might be just some berries or a twig of evergreen. But when flowers were available, it was always a flower.
AWC: He was not one to say, "Well, this is not my field." So many of us are prone to do that. He recognized the fact that there was an important job to be done because of the distressing poverty that existed for people who were depending on cotton as their sole cash crop and they were without. So he had to develop a plan that would enable people to do these things for themselves, where there wasn't any expenditure of money. That was one of the things that caused him to start teaching the people how to dehydrate the plants, the wild fruits, and the native vegetation. You couldn't talk with them about canning. Where were they going to get the money to buy jars and caps and the rubbers for them?
Interview with Alfred Zissler, Lecture Trip Driver for Carver, c. 1933
Ames, Iowa, 1968
Conducted by Dorothy Kehlenbeck
DK: What kind of things did Carver lecture about? Was it about the products he had made?
AZ: Yes, mostly the products--he would start out telling a little of his background and how he happened to be do what he was doing, then he had these samples, he was promoting diversity. People, of course, asked him a lot of questions. He had a question and answer period. I think his biggest contribution was his humanitarian--well--himself, you know. He was quite religious, quite scientific, but was really quite a putterer. One of the letters I told you I liked was when--this was before I met him, was one of the first letters I had received. He was telling me what a beautiful day it was, one of his own creations had opened up. It was a white amaryllis you know--this was another thing he did--he developed plants and besides painting and cooking and sewing his own clothes, I guess his biggest contribution was helping students, helping people.