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    Dr. Carver writes to inquire "if Colored people are allowed to visit the museum..."

    George Washington Carver Autograph Letters (2) Signed, 8.5" x 11", on Tuskegee Institute letterhead.

    The first letter (dated September 3, 1934) is addressed formally: "To the Curator of the Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Ala., Dear Madam: - This is to inquire if Colored people are allowed to visit the museum, if so at what hours? Yours very truly G.W. Carver." Although Carver's work was exclusively in the sciences, his first course of study was in Fine Arts. He remained an avid artist his entire life, and his continued interest prompted this inquiry.

    By 1934 George Washington Carver was already nationally recognized for his agricultural achievements. His research into and promotion of alternative crops to cotton, such as peanuts and sweet potatoes, helped to transform and improve the lives of poor farmers in the south. His use of peanut oil massages to treat infantile paralysis made him a popular speaker, and his treatments were highly sought after. He had met with three U.S. Presidents (Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Franklin Roosevelt), received membership to the Royal Society of Arts in England (in 1916), and had spoken before the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives (1921). Despite all of his accomplishments and fame, the racial barrier remained, and this simple letter bears testimony to the careful path Carver learned to maneuver in order to proceed with his work and his life.

    The second letter, 2 pages, dated December 7, 1934 is addressed to the same "Madam". After three months, Carver has become a good friend of the family and the tone of the letter is warm and intimate: "My dear Mrs. Preer: - This is to thank you for the delicious jar of marmalade. The artistic blend of flavors make it stand out quite distinct from any that I have eaten. . . . I thank you also for letting 'Tommy' bring me such a generous supply of water ground meal. My hopes for 'Tommy' is [sic] that he will continue to develop physically and mentally into the fine, ideal Christian gentleman that his father was." Carver remained a close friend until his death in 1943. These letters are being offered for the first time, and come directly from descendants of the original recipient.

    The September 3rd letter is heavily toned with a single paperclip stain at upper left, however the ink remains bold and very legible. The second letter, dated December 7, is gently toned, and near fine.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    8th-9th Tuesday-Wednesday
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