Carter G. Woodson was born December 19, 1875. He was the son of formerly enslaved African Americans, James and Eliza Riddle Woodson. Woodson is known as an African American historian, author of over 27 books and articles, journalist and founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. As the founder of the Journal of Negro History, Woodson is credited as “the father of black history.”
Woodson’s father moved the family to West Virginia at the end of the Civil War. It was around this time he learned a school for black children was to be built in Huntington, West Virginia. Through self-instruction, Woodson mastered the fundamentals of common school subjects by age 17. He continued his education in Fayette County, VA, earning a living as a coal miner to pay for his education. In 1895, at age 20, Woodson entered Douglass High School in Huntington, WV. There he received his diploma in less than two years. Woodson enrolled in Berea College in 1897, taking classes part-time between 1901 and 1903. He graduated from Berea with a Bachelor of Literature degree in 1903. While attending Berea College, Woodson taught at Winona, Fayette County, WV in a school established by black coal miners for their children. By 1901, Carter G. Woodson had already earned a West Virginia teaching certificate. He scored well above average in drawing, music, science, educational methods, and history. Woodson continued his education at the University of Chicago. He earned two bachelor’s degrees as well as a Master’s degree in European History in 1908. Woodson continued his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and at Harvard University, where he earned a Ph.D. in history in 1912. Woodson was the second African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard, following this same academic accomplishment by Dr. W. E. B. DuBois in 1907. Woodson died April 3, 1950 at the age of 74 and is buried at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland.