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220px-Carter_Woodson.jpg (9754 bytes)


Historian (1887-1950)

Carter G. Woodson dedicated his like to researching and preserving the saga of the African-Americans.   He later became known as "the father of black history."  Woodson born Dec.19, 1875, in Buckingham County is best know for establishing Negro History Week in 1926.  The celebration of the achievements of African-Americans later became Black History Month.  Woodson was the son of former slaves.  His parents James Henry Woodson and Eliza Riddle Woodson had nine children.  Woodson, the youngest, had to work on the family farm and couldn't attend school regularly.  Determined to secure an education he learned on his own. 

At 17, Woodson moved to Huntington, W.Va., where he hoped to continue his education.  He worked in the coal mines to support himself.  In 1895, when he was 19, Woodson was able to enroll in Douglass High School in Huntington.  He earned his diploma in less than two years.  In 1901, he began teaching at his former high school, and for a short time served as principal.  He also enrolled at Bearea College, which he attended off and on, graduating in 1903.   Woodson's thirst for knowledge was boundless.  While he taught in the Philippines from 1903, to 1907, he took correspondence courses from the University of Chicago. 

After leaving the Philippines he traveled to Europe and Asia and briefly studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.  When he returned to the United States, Woodson enrolled at the University of Chicago and received both his bachelor's and master's degree in History and Romance Languages in 1908.  His studies there piqued his interest in History, and Woodson was accepted to the doctoral program at Harvard University.  He received his doctorate in 1912.  He was the second Black person to receive a doctorate from the university.  He worked as a teacher at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. from 1909 to 1919.  Convinced that the history of African-Americans were being ignored and misrepresented, he took steps to put things right.  In 1915, Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History Inc.  

The association was created to promote and preserve African-American history and culture.  He founded the Journal of Negro History in !916.  In 1917, he wrote his first book, "The education of the Negro Prior to 1861." considered one of his most important works.  In 1912, five years before he would establish Negro History Week, Woodson founded Associated Publishers to publish books and information about Black life and history.  He wrote or co-wrote 22 books, among them "The Negro In Our History" and "The Miseducation of the Negro."  Woodson also taught at Howard University and Virginia State College.  He founded the Negro History Bulletin in 1937.  He spent his life investigating, documenting and publishing African-American history.  Woodson was obsessed with his work and was described as a workaholic who was arrogant, cantankerous and domineering.  He died of a heart attack in 1950, before realizing his ambition.

Revised: July 18, 2013.