More Than Peanuts

The Unlikely Partnership of Tom Huston and George Washington Carver

Edith Powell

Foreword by Bert Hitchcock

Title Details

Pages: 206

Illustrations: 25 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 11/01/2022

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8446-1

List Price: $23.95


NewSouth Books

More Than Peanuts

The Unlikely Partnership of Tom Huston and George Washington Carver

Edith Powell

Foreword by Bert Hitchcock

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"The further we go the bigger it gets and the more interesting. I don’t know what we would have done without you." So wrote Bob Barry, a White executive with the Tom Huston Peanut Company, to George Washington Carver, the shy, unassuming scientific genius of Tuskegee Institute. The two, along with Grady Porter and Tom Huston himself, embarked on a quest to grow the peanut industry in the South by understanding and solving the problems faced by farmers.

From 1924 until the end of Carver’s life, these four men, three White and one Black, sustained a professional partnership and a personal friendship built on mutual admiration, respect, trust, and purpose. Their work attracted the attention and support of university and government scientists around the country as well as agricultural industry professionals and their most important audience, farmers in the Southeast. Their effort laid the foundation for research to support the fledgling peanut industry, which became one of the region’s most important cash crops, with a farm value totaling over $1 billion in 2020.

More Than Peanuts follows the journey of these four men, through the letters they wrote to each other and to others who joined them on the way. The letters document a fascinating early example of cooperation between farmers, private business, university researchers, and government policymakers to grow a prosperous industry. Even more importantly, they are eloquent testimony to a lasting interracial friendship in the segregated South—so much more than peanuts.

Two brilliant inventors, Tom Huston and George Washington Carver, along with two other executive managers from the Tom Huston Peanut Company, Bob Barry and Grady Porter, combined their knowledge and talents to revolutionize the peanut industry as we know it today. More Than Peanuts narrates the relationship between these men and how they were able to collaborate through science, business, and hard work to spearhead peanut production efforts in the South. While these men made great strides in Southern agriculture, Edith Powell also showcases something more important: a meaningful interracial friendship in the midst of segregation.

—John H. Pickle, Jr., author of One of His Boys: The Letters of Johnnie Pickle and His Mentor, George Washington Carver

More Than Peanuts is a fascinating read about a surprising friendship between Tom Huston, George Washington Carver, Bob Barry, and Grady Porter that revolutionized the peanut industry through several collaborative efforts in business, research, relationships, and much more. It's that rare book that is informative and engaging, a small package full of charm and insights about a successful venture that made peanuts a Southern snack food of choice.

—Gerald Andrews, author of A Mill Village Story: A Southern Boyhood Joyfully Remembered

This is both a timely and important book that offers readers with not only an insight into the brilliant George Washington Carver of Tuskegee University, but the manner in which race relations could work for the good of the community if put to the metal effect. The relationship forged between Carver, Huston, and other White Southerners was testimony to the possibilities of harmonious relations beyond the color line. Edith Powell has excavated an important piece of hidden history that may confound readers. Moreover, her knowledge and insight into the dynamics of the Black Belt and human relations between two separate and unequal communities is both poignant and perceptive-a must read!

—Mark Christian, PhD, author of Booker T. Washington: A Life in American History

Walter Hill

Marceline Egnin

About the Author/Editor

EDITH POWELL is a retired professor of immunology and hematology at Tuskegee University. As a native of Tuskegee, Powell has had a lifelong interest in the history of the town and university. Her passion resulted in her role as an independent research consultant on George Washington Carver for the Tuskegee University archives. Powell is also the author of A Black Oasis: Tuskegee Institute’s Fight Against Infantile Paralysis, 1941–1975 (with Dr. John F. Hume) and To Raise Up the Man Farthest Down: Tuskegee University’s Advancements in Human Health, 1881–1987 (with Dana R. Chandler). Now residing in Auburn, Powell is a mother of three with five grandchildren.