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Cover with text and image of Black man and white man standing on either side of a large bell

This 1885 Harper's Weekly cover celebrated the freedom of enslaved African Americans 22 years after emancipation with the text, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants." / THF11676

Liberty stands as one of the ideals that inspired the United States from its beginning, as the following quotes from founding documents indicate:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”Declaration of Independence, 1776

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general Welfare, and ensure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” –Constitution of the United States, 1788

National aspirations for liberty resonated, but “liberty” for some trapped others in servitude. United States expansion came at the highest cost to indigenous and enslaved individuals. For them, liberty rang hollow.

The Union victory in the Civil War affirmed the nation’s authority to abolish slavery, expand citizenship and civil rights protection, and grant universal manhood suffrage.  The Fourteenth Amendment affirmed that “No state shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.” Yet, newly freed Black Americans faced discrimination that deprived them of these unalienable rights.

Throughout this tumultuous history, the word “liberty” has been on all U.S. coins. The Coinage Act of 1792 established the U.S. Mint and decreed that all coins include an “impression emblematic of liberty” and the word “liberty.” Thus, the lawful tender in the United States, from the start of our national currency, emphasized liberty—even as the nation built its economy on and around the enslavement of people of African origin and descent.

The United States marked its 170th anniversary in the year that the U.S. Mint first linked “liberty” to Black history. Congress authorized production of a 50-cent coin to “commemorate the life and perpetuate the ideals and teachings of Booker T. Washington,” about 30 years after Washington’s death, on August 7, 1946 (Public Law 610-79th Congress, Chapter 763-2D Session, H.R 6528 August 7, 1946). Washington, noted educator and advocate for economic independence and Black autonomy, built his reputation as he built a segregated public school in Tuskegee, Alabama, into an engine of Black economic development. The Tuskegee alumni networks enthusiastically sustained his ideals, including liberty achieved regardless of racism and separate-but-equal segregation.

Silver coin with text and image of man's face
Commemorative Half Dollar Coin Featuring Booker T. Washington, 1946. / THF170779

In addition to the word “liberty,” the coin’s reverse side summarized Washington’s evolution, from his birth as an enslaved person to his induction into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in 1945.

Silver coin with text and images of two buildings
Verso, Booker T. Washington Commemorative Half Dollar Coin, 1946, Produced in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The back of the coin featured the log structure memorialized as the Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial in Franklin County, Virginia, and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, into which Washington was posthumously inducted in 1945, located in the Bronx, New York City.  / THF170780

The Black sculptor who designed the coin, Isaac Scott Hathaway, summarized Washington’s life story on a trajectory from enslavement to recognition. Hathaway had pursued this work for most of his life, convinced that Black Americans warranted representation in classical forms—specifically on busts and bas-relief plaques—that rivaled those of gods and goddesses. He mass-produced plaster busts and plaques of more than 200 Black women and men for customers to purchase and display in homes, schools, and churches. He divided his time between memorializing Black individuals and teaching in Tuskegee Institute’s Department of Ceramics, which he founded. His connection to Tuskegee helped secure his appointment as the first Black artist to design a coin for the U.S. Mint in 1945.

Bronze-colored metal plaque with raised portrait of man's head and shoulders
George Washington Carver Plaque, 1945. Hathaway knew Carver, and he cast this small bas-relief plaster plaque out of respect for “this venerable man whose acquaintance and friendship I enjoyed for 40 years.” He donated this plaque, as well as a plaster cast of Carver’s hand, to The Henry Ford in December 1945. / THF152082

The commemorative half-dollar coin featuring Booker T. Washington remained in production between 1946 and 1951. Sales of the commemorative sets, however, fell short of expectations. The U.S. Congress amended the August 7, 1946, act, reauthorizing a redesigned coin that added Tuskegee Institute agricultural scientist George Washington Carver to the front, and a patriotic message on the back  (Public Law 151-82d Congress, Chapter 408, 1st Session. H.R. 3176 September 21, 1951). The Mint again retained Hathaway to design this second coin. One and one-half million Washington coins were melted and recast into the new issue.

Silver coin with text and two men's faces in profile
Commemorative Half Dollar Coin Featuring George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington, 1953. / THF152213

Silver coin with map of United States and text
Reverse Side, Commemorative Half Dollar Coin Featuring George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington, 1953, Produced at Denver, Colorado. / THF152214

Proceeds from sales of both of these commemorative coins were ear-marked for completion of the only national monuments documenting Black history at the time—the Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial in Virginia and the George Washington Carver National Monument in Missouri. But sluggish sales did not generate the anticipated income for these two projects. When the amended act expired on August 7, 1954, the remaining million coins minted but not sold were melted and used for other coins. The practice of issuing commemorative coins for private initiatives—funding historic sites and memorials, in the case of these two coins—also ended with the expiration of the Washington commemorative coin act.

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George Washington Carver, by Debra A. Reid, African American history

Corner of room with chairs, windows, and doors
Interior of Henry Ford’s Private Railroad Car, “Fair Lane,” June 22, 1921 / THF148015


Beginning in 1921, Henry and Clara Ford used their own railroad car, the Fair Lane, to travel in privacy. Clara Ford designed the interior in consultation with Sidney Houghton, an interior designer based in London. The interior guaranteed a comfortable trip for the Fords, their family, and others who accompanied them on more than 400 trips between 1921 and 1942.

The view out the railcar windows often featured the landscape between Dearborn, Michigan, and Richmond Hill, Georgia, located near Savannah. The Fords purchased more than 85,000 acres in the area, starting in 1925, remaking it into their southern retreat.

On at least three occasions, Henry Ford might have looked out that Fair Lane window, observing changes in the landscape between Richmond Hill and a siding (or short track near the main railroad tracks, where engines and cars can be parked when not in use) near Tuskegee, Alabama. Henry Ford took the railcar to the Tuskegee Institute in 1938, 1941, and 1942, and Clara accompanied Henry at least twice.

Two men, one Black and one white, pose in front of a car
Henry Ford and George Washington Carver, Tuskegee, Alabama, March 1938 / THF213839

Henry first met with George Washington Carver and Austin W. Curtis at Tuskegee on March 11, 1938. A small entourage accompanied him, including Ford’s personal secretary, Frank Campsall, and Wilbur M. Donaldson, a recent graduate of Ford’s school in Greenfield Village and student of engineering at Ford Motor Company.

Group of men walk on a sidewalk between grass and trees
George Washington Carver and Henry Ford on the Tuskegee Institute Campus, 1938. / THF213773

Photographs show these men viewing exhibits in the Carver Museum, installed at the time on the third floor of the library building on the Tuskegee campus (though it would soon move).

Five men in suits look at items some of them are holding in their hands
Austin Curtis, George Washington Carver, Henry Ford, Wilbur Donaldson, and Frank Campsall Inspect Peanut Oil, Tuskegee Institute, March 1938 / THF 213794

Man gestures to a table covered in glass jars while other men look on
Frank Campsall, Austin Curtis, Henry Ford, and George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute, March 1938 / THF214101

Clara accompanied Henry on her first trip to Tuskegee Institute, in the comfort of the Fair Lane, in March 1941. Tuskegee president F.D. Patterson met them at the railway siding in Chehaw, Alabama, and drove them to Tuskegee. While Henry visited with Carver, Clara received a tour of the girls’ industrial building and the home economics department.

During this visit, the Fords helped dedicate the George W. Carver Museum, which had moved to a new space on campus. The relocated museum and the Carver laboratory both occupied the rehabilitated Laundry Building, next to Dorothy Hall, where Carver lived. A bust of Carver—sculpted by Steffen Thomas, installed on a pink marble slab, and dedicated in June 1937—stood outside this building.

The dedication included a ceremony that featured Clara and Henry Ford inscribing their names into a block of concrete seeded with plastic car parts. The Chicago Defender, one of the nation’s most influential Black newspapers, reported on the visit in its March 22, 1941, issue. That story itemized the car parts, all made from soybeans and soy fiber, that were incorporated—including a glove compartment door, distributor cap, gearshift knob, and horn button. These items symbolized an interest shared between Carver and Ford: seeking new uses for agricultural commodities.

Person wearing hat sits, head tipped down toward a wooden crate, while other people look on
Clara Ford, face obscured by her hat, inscribes her name in a block of concrete during the dedication of George Washington Carver Museum, March 1941, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. Others in the photograph, left to right: George Washington Carver; Carrie J. Gleed, director of the Home Economics Department; Catherine Elizabeth Moton Patterson, daughter of Robert R. Moton (the second Tuskegee president) and wife of Frederick Douglass Patterson (the third Tuskegee president); Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson; Austin W. Curtis, Jr.; an unidentified Tuskegee student who assisted with the ceremony; and Henry Ford. / THF213788

Man sits at crate while other people look on
Henry Ford inscribing his name in a block of cement during the dedication of George Washington Carver Museum, Tuskegee Institute, March 1941 / THF213790

After the dedication, the Fords ate lunch in the dining room at Dorothy Hall, the building where Carver had his apartment, and toured the veterans’ hospital. They then returned to the Fair Lane railcar and headed for the main rail line in Atlanta for the rest of their journey north.

President Patterson directed a thank you letter to Henry Ford, dated March 14, 1941. In this letter, he commended Clara Ford for her “graciousness” and “her genuine interest in arts and crafts for women, particularly the weaving, [which] was a source of great encouragement to the members of that department.”

The last visit the Fords made to Tuskegee occurred in March 1942. The Fair Lane switched off at Chehaw, where Austin W. Curtis, Jr., met the Fords and drove them to Tuskegee via the grounds of the U.S. Veterans’ Hospital. Catherine Patterson and Clara Ford toured the Home Economics building and the work rooms where faculty taught women’s industries. Clara rode in the elevator that Henry had funded and had installed in Dorothy Hall in 1941, at a cost of $1,542.73, to ease Carver’s climb up the stairs to his apartment.

The Fords dined on a special luncheon menu featuring sandwiches with wild vegetable filling, prepared from one of Carver’s recipes. They topped the meal off with a layer cake made from powdered sweet potato, pecans, and peanuts that Carver prepared.

Tuskegee shared the Fords’ itinerary with Black newspapers, and the April 20, 1942, issue of Atlanta Daily World carried the news, “Carver Serves Ford New Food Products.” They concluded, in the tradition of social columns at the time, by describing what Henry and Clara Ford wore during the visit. “Mrs. Ford wore a black dress, black hat and gloves and a red cape with self-embroidery. Mr. Ford wore as usual an inconspicuously tailored business suit.”

Dr. Patterson wrote to Henry Ford on March 23, 1942, extending his regrets for not being at Tuskegee to greet the Fords. Patterson also reiterated thanks for “Mrs. Ford’s interest in Tuskegee Institute”—“The people in the School of Home Economics are always delighted and greatly encouraged with the interest she takes in the weaving and self-help project in the department.”

The Fords sold the Fair Lane in 1942. After many more miles on the rails with new owners over the next few decades, the Fair Lane came home to The Henry Ford. Extensive restoration returned its appearance to that envisioned by Clara Ford and implemented to ensure comfort for Henry and Clara and their traveling companions. Now the view from those windows features other artifacts on the floor of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, in place of the varied landscapes, including those around the Tuskegee Institute, traveled by the Fords.

Rail car interior containing chairs, doors, windows, and arched ceiling
A view of the interior of Henry and Clara Ford’s private railroad car, the “Fair Lane,” constructed by the Pullman Company in 1921, restored by The Henry Ford to that era of elegance, and displayed in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. / THF186264


Debra A. Reid is Curator of Agriculture and the Environment at The Henry Ford.

Fair Lane railcar, women's history, travel, railroads, Henry Ford Museum, Henry Ford, George Washington Carver, Ford family, education, Clara Ford, by Debra A. Reid, African American history

Rolled cake topped with peanuts and with peanut butter/jelly filling visible at end


A Taste of History in Greenfield Village offers our visitors seasonal, locally sourced and historically minded recipes. Over the past year, our chefs have been developing some new recipes, directly drawn from the recipes of George Washington Carver and the ingredients that he used. You can learn more about the inspiration behind the new options both in A Taste of History and in Plum Market Kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in our blog post here, or try out some of the recipes for yourself—like this Peanut Roll Cake with Jelly.

Chef’s Notes


When we were reading through hundreds of George Washington’s Carver’s recipes, this one stood out. It’s a wow—a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dessert! Chef Kasem Faraj, our resident Greenfield Village chef, spent hours making this one just perfect. We’ve had many variations of the PB&J in our lifetime, and this one takes the cake—just have fun and roll with it.


Recipe: Peanut Roll Cake with Jelly

Makes 1 Cake; Serves 8

Cake ingredients

4 each             Eggs

7 oz                  Granulated Sugar

¾ tsp                Baking Powder

½ tsp                Salt

¼ tsp                Baking Soda

4 ½ oz              All Purpose Flour, Sifted

3 oz                  Butter, Melted

1 oz                  Vanilla Extract

Filling ingredients

1 ½ oz              Granulated Peanuts

2 oz                  Smooth Peanut Butter

4 oz                  Raspberry Currant Jam/Jelly

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine eggs, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixture (or use a hand mixer and bowl).
  3. Mix on medium-low speed until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth and runny, about 3 minutes.
  4. Increase the speed to medium and whip until the mixture is a play yellow and thick enough to fall from the whisk in ribbons.
  5. Increase the speed again to high and continue whipping until the mixture has roughly doubled in volume and is thick.
  6. Reduce speed to medium-low and add vanilla and melted butter in a steady stream.
  7. Add sifted flour all at once and mix just enough to incorporate the flour.
  8. Pour batter into a half sheet tray or 13” x 9” baking dish that has been lined with parchment paper and nonstick spray.
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cake is done when the cake is puffed, lightly brown from edge to edge, and slightly firm.
  10. While cake is still warm, place on a linen towel and roll tightly. Allow cake to cool while rolled to shape and keep from cracking when filled and rolled.
  11. Once cake has cooled, unroll cake, and cover the inside of the roll with peanut butter, jelly, and granulated peanuts.
  12. Re-roll the cake and allow to sit with the seam on the bottom.
  13. Glaze cake with a simple icing and top with additional granulated peanuts if desired.



Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford.

making, George Washington Carver, by Eric Schilbe, restaurants, Greenfield Village, food, recipes

Red casserole dish filled with cooked greens, sitting on butcher block

A Taste of History in Greenfield Village offers our visitors seasonal, locally sourced and historically minded recipes. Over the past year, our chefs have been developing some new recipes, directly drawn from the recipes of George Washington Carver and the ingredients that he used. You can learn more about the inspiration behind the new options both in A Taste of History and in Plum Market Kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in our blog post here, or try out some of the recipes for yourself—like these Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey.

Chef’s Notes


What is Southern cooking without greens? There are lots of different ways to go, and almost no way to go wrong. Just be sure to cook the greens long enough, and don’t add any extra salt until done.

We chose to add smoked turkey to this dish to build truly rich flavors into something very simple. If you don’t have a smoker, smoked turkey wings or legs are readily available, fresh or frozen, at most local grocers. Or you can make this dish vegan by omitting the turkey and smoking the onions before adding—or simply cook it over a campfire to achieve a rich, smoky flavor.  

Recipe: Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey


Makes 8 Portions


Ingredients

2 lb                  Fresh Collard Greens

8 oz                  White Onion

8 cloves           Fresh Garlic

8 oz                  Smoked Turkey Wing Meat

1 oz                  Cider Vinegar

4 C                   Vegetable Stock/Broth

To taste           Salt and Pepper



Procedure

 

  1. Dice onions and sauté in a pot until translucent.
  2. Mince garlic and add to pot along with turkey wings.
  3. Deglaze pan with cider vinegar, then add in chopped collard greens and vegetable stock.
  4. Simmer on low until greens are tender and all liquid has been absorbed, approximately 1 ½ hours.
  5. Season with salt and pepper as needed.



Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford.

restaurants, Greenfield Village, food, George Washington Carver, by Eric Schilbe, making, recipes

Red dish filled with a vegetable medley; other dishes visible in background

A Taste of History in Greenfield Village offers our visitors seasonal, locally sourced and historically minded recipes. Over the past year, our chefs have been developing some new recipes, directly drawn from the recipes of George Washington Carver and the ingredients that he used. You can learn more about the inspiration behind the new options both in A Taste of History and in Plum Market Kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in our blog post here, or try out some of the recipes for yourself—like this Sweet Potato Hash.

Chef’s Notes


This hash covers so many of the vegetables Carver used, all in one. This dish is bound to make a big impact on your table, as simple ingredients come together to create this wonderful dish. Follow the cooking directions carefully and the textures and flavors will all be distinct until they meld together on the plate.

You can cook all the ingredients separately and chill until you are ready to eat, then simply sauté everything together in a hot pan—that is what we chefs would do!

Recipe: Sweet Potato Hash


Makes 8 Portions


Ingredients

1 ½  lb              Sweet Potatoes

¼ C                  Melted Butter

4 oz                  Red Onion

4 oz                  Celery

4 oz                  Red Bell Pepper

2 cloves           Fresh Garlic

1 tsp                Fresh Parsley

To taste           Salt and Pepper

¼ cup               Granulated Peanuts



Procedure

  1. Peel and dice sweet potatoes.
  2. Roast sweet potatoes in 350°F oven until tender.
  3. Dice onions, celery, and red pepper, keeping them all separate.
  4. Melt butter in a large pan and sauté onions until translucent.
  5. Add celery, minced garlic, and red pepper and sauté for an additional 3 minutes.
  6. Add peanuts and sweet potatoes and cook for another 3-5 minutes, making sure to stir constantly.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.



Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford.

George Washington Carver, food, making, by Eric Schilbe, Greenfield Village, restaurants, recipes

Four roasted chicken breasts in a cast iron dish on a butcher's block


A Taste of History in Greenfield Village offers our visitors seasonal, locally sourced and historically minded recipes. Over the past year, our chefs have been developing some new recipes, directly drawn from the recipes of George Washington Carver and the ingredients that he used. You can learn more about the inspiration behind the new options both in A Taste of History and in Plum Market Kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in our blog post here, or try out some of the recipes for yourself—like this Brined and Roasted Chicken.

Chef’s Notes


Running out of time? This recipe takes plenty of patience and is well worth it, but if you need something quick, you can roast the chicken with salt and pepper for a few minutes, then brush it with melted butter, apple cider vinegar, and pure maple syrup. Continue roasting, brushing with the mixture an additional two or three times, until the chicken is fully cooked.

We also recommend serving it alongside the sauce (link below). There are many other sauces that Carver has recipes for in his published papers, but we chose the green Tomato Chili Sauce because it uniquely balances the sweet maple flavor of the chicken with just enough spice to make it dance on your palette. You can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat when you are ready to eat.

Recipe: Brined and Roasted Chicken


Makes 8 Chicken Breasts


Maple Brine Ingredients

4 C Boiling Water

7 oz Granulated Sugar

3 oz Kosher Salt

1 C Maple Syrup

3 sprigs Fresh Thyme

4 C Ice


Additional Ingredients

8 Chicken Breasts (6–8 oz each)


Procedure

  1. Combine boiling water, sugar, salt, maple syrup, and thyme and stir until sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
  2. Add ice and stir, allowing the liquid to cool completely.
  3. Rinse the chicken breast and completely submerge in maple brine. Refrigerate for at least five hours.
  4. After five hours, remove the chicken and rinse clean. Discard the used brine.
  5. Roast at 350°F until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, approximately 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve chicken with Tomato Chili Sauce.



Whether you make it for yourself at home, or pay a visit to A Taste of History in Greenfield Village to let us make it for you, let us know what you think!


Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford.

making, restaurants, food, by Eric Schilbe, Greenfield Village, recipes, George Washington Carver

Silver dish with handles, containing green sauce, sitting on butcher block

A Taste of History in Greenfield Village offers our visitors seasonal, locally sourced and historically minded recipes. Over the past year, our chefs have been developing some new recipes, directly drawn from the recipes of George Washington Carver and the ingredients that he used. You can learn more about the inspiration behind the new options both in A Taste of History and in Plum Market Kitchen in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in our blog post here, or try out some of the recipes for yourself—like this Tomato Chili Sauce.

Chef’s Notes


There are many other sauces that Carver has recipes for in his published papers, but we chose the green Tomato Chili Sauce because it uniquely balances the sweet maple flavor of the Brined and Roasted Chicken (link below) with just enough spice to make it dance on your palette. You can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat when you are ready to eat.

Recipe: Tomato Chili Sauce


Makes 8 Portions


Ingredients

1 lb Fresh Green Tomatoes

3 oz Jalapeno Peppers

3 oz White Onion

1 oz Granulated Sugar

½ C Vinegar

1 Tbs Salt

¼ tsp Pepper  


Procedure

  1. Peel tomatoes by placing in boiling water for 1 minute, shock by placing in ice water, and then peel skins.
  2. Slice jalapenos in half lengthwise and remove seeds and piths. Reserve seeds for later.
  3. Dice tomatoes, jalapenos, and onions and combine in small saucepan with all ingredients.
  4. Bring to a simmer, allow to simmer for 1-2 hours, and then puree.
  5. Adjust seasoning as necessary with salt, pepper, sugar, and jalapeno seeds. The spice level should be a medium, balanced heat.
  6. Serve with Brined and Roasted Chicken.



Whether you make it for yourself at home, or pay a visit to A Taste of History in Greenfield Village to let us make it for you, let us know what you think!


Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford.

George Washington Carver, restaurants, recipes, making, Greenfield Village, food, by Eric Schilbe

Portrait of Black man with mustache wearing jacket and tie
George Washington Carver's Graduation Photo from Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm (now Iowa State University), 1893 /
THF214111

George Washington Carver and Food


George Washington Carver (1860s–1943) was born near the end of the Civil War in Missouri. He studied plants his entire life, loved art and science, earned two agricultural science degrees from Iowa State University, and shared his knowledge broadly during his 45-year-career at Tuskegee Institute. He urged farm families to care for their land. Today we call this regenerative agriculture, but in Carver’s day it amounted to a revolutionary agricultural ethic.

Carver’s curiosity about plants fueled another revolution as he promoted hundreds of new uses for things that farm families could grow and eat. Cookbooks inspired him to adapt, and he worked with Tuskegee students to test and refine recipes. Then he compiled them in bulletins that stressed the connection between the environment and human health.

Today, our chefs at The Henry Ford are inspired by Carver’s dozens of bulletins and hundreds of recipes for chutneys, roast meats, salads, and peanut-topped sweet rolls.

Page with text and photo of men with baskets of peas
Some Possibilities of the Cow Pea in Macon County, Alabama, a 1910 bulletin by Carver featuring recipes. / THF213269

Developing Modern Carver-Inspired Recipes


Silver platter filled with meat in a brown sauce, topped with tomato slices and jalapeno peppers; text label behind dish
All Natural Pork with Peanut Plum Sauce at Plum Market Kitchen.

Carver is known to most of us for his many uses for the peanut. The Henry Ford’s culinary team looks to go beyond that, knowing that there is so much more to his legacy. Cultural appropriation is a hot topic in the world of food service today, but as a public history institution, we recognize that food is culture, and we are committed to authentic representation of a variety of food traditions. We are constantly collaborating and developing new recipes in consultation with our curators, who provide expert understanding and context. Part of the mission that drives our chefs is to understand the full story, and to help all our guests complete that experience as well.


Carver-Influenced Menu at Plum Market Kitchen


White ceramic dish containing a colorful salad and label with text, sitting on white and gray marble counter
Kale, Roasted Peanut, and Pickled Red Onion Salad with Molasses Vinaigrette at Plum Market Kitchen

Many aspects of Carver’s legacy are woven into a modern menu at Plum Market Kitchen at The Henry Ford. Today, the ideas of all-natural, healthy, and organic have become “tag lines” to sell you food. However, for Carver, and for Plum Market Kitchen, these have always been a driving ideology. Together, The Henry Ford and Plum Market Kitchen have taken inspiration from many of Carver’s recipes—always looking to honor and continue his legacy.

Digging Deeper into Carver’s Legacy at A Taste of History


Dishes containing chicken, greens, mixed vegetables, a green sauce, and a rolled cake
Spring offerings from George Washington Carver's recipes at A Taste of History.

While our new recipes at Plum Market Kitchen are inspired by Carver, with modern adaptations, our new offerings in A Taste of History are more directly drawn from Carver’s own recipes and the ingredients he used. Spring offerings at A Taste of History include the following—click through for recipes to try at home.



Learn More


Silver chafing dish containing large chunks of sweet potatoes topped with herbs, sitting on white and gray marble counter

Farmhouse Roasted Sweet Potatoes at Plum Market Kitchen.

If you’d like to further explore the life and work of George Washington Carver, issues surrounding food security, historic recipes, or dining at The Henry Ford, here are some additional resources across our website:

  • Take a closer look at Black empowerment through Black education with the microscope used by agricultural scientist George Washington Carver during his tenure at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
  • Throughout Carver’s life, he balanced two interests and talents—the creative arts and the natural sciences. Find out how each influenced the other.
  • Learn more about the history of the George Washington Carver Cabin in Greenfield Village.
  • Explore artifacts, photographs, letters, and other items related to Carver in our Digital Collections.
  • Food security links nutritious food to individual and community health. Explore this concept through the collections of The Henry Ford in this blog post, which includes Carver’s work.
  • Find out what a food soldier is, as well as how food and nutrition relate to issues of institutional racism and equity for African Americans.
  • Explore historic cookbooks and recipes from our collections.
  • Get up-to-date information about dining options in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village.



Eric Schilbe is Executive Sous Chef at The Henry Ford. Debra A. Reid is Curator of Agriculture and the Environment at The Henry Ford. 

Greenfield Village, Henry Ford Museum, African American history, George Washington Carver, restaurants, by Eric Schilbe, by Debra A. Reid, recipes, food

thf163072
Microscope Used by George Washington Carver, circa 1900 / THF163072

This microscope, reputedly used by agricultural scientist George Washington Carver during his tenure at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, offers us a closer look at Black empowerment through Black education.

It took training to run educational laboratories, and administrators at Black schools sought qualified faculty to do the job. Booker T. Washington, principal at the private, historically Black Tuskegee Institute, recruited Carver as the one person who could build an agricultural research program comparable to the ones available to whites through other public land-grant institutions. Carver was qualified, having earned a master’s degree in agricultural science in 1896, the first Black American to do so.

Austin W. Curtis, Jr., who assisted Carver in his laboratory between 1935 and Carver’s death in 1943, donated and affirmed Carver's use of this microscope. Through it (and other scientific instruments), Carver documented the molecular structure of organic matter—the plants, fungi, bacteria, soils, and sedimentary material of Alabama and beyond. He translated his findings into how-to pamphlets, sharing strategies that Black families in the South could use to improve their own health and the health of their soils. Carver’s pamphlets also introduced hundreds of new uses for plant-based materials, ranging from livestock feed and medicines to pigments and synthetic polymers.

The highest level of learning requires analysis of original research. This microscope supported that cause while in use at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and it continues to help us focus on Black history.

You can see Carver's microscope for yourself in the Agriculture: Innovations in Farming exhibit in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.


This post was adapted from a stop on our forthcoming “Stories of Black Empowerment” tour of Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in the THF Connect app, written by Debra A. Reid, Curator of Agriculture and the Environment at The Henry Ford. To learn more about or download the THF Connect app, click here.

by Debra A. Reid, education, agriculture, George Washington Carver, African American history, THF Connect app

Three women of color standing and sitting around a table containing canned, boxed, and bagged food items
June Sears, Rosemary Dishman, and Dorothy Ford Discussing Women's Nutrition, May 1970 / THF620081

A food soldier is a person who fights for something many of us take for granted: widespread, consistent access to good nutrition. George Washington Carver can be described in this way and is familiar to us at The Henry Ford for his work with the peanut—and his friendship with our founder. Carver’s impact went deeper, including dozens of agricultural pamphlets designed to convey scientific farming methods to rural Black Americans. Food Soldiers: Nutrition and Race Activism, a new pop-up exhibit in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, looks at these pamphlets as a starting point for a topic with a consequential history in the 20th and 21st centuries. From our partners at Focus:HOPE to our Entrepreneur in Residence, Melvin Parson, this exhibit celebrates those who have made it their life’s work to ensure that everyone has the ability to meet this most basic of necessities.

Food Soldiers connects with Black History Month (February) as well as Women’s History Month and Nutrition Month (March). The exhibit is an on-site component to a larger initiative that includes digital and virtual elements. Debra Reid, Curator of Agriculture and the Environment, will build upon the themes in her blog post Healthy Food to Build Healthy Communities with one on Food Soldiers in coming weeks. You can also look forward to a live Twitter chat on the topic this month.

Food Soldiers is located near the 1930s kitchen in the museum and will be on view through March 31.

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agriculture, George Washington Carver, events, Henry Ford Museum, by Kate Morland, food, women's history, African American history