Carter Godwin Woodson (December 19, 1875 – April 3, 1950) was an African-American historian, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He was one of the first scholars to value and study Black History. He recognized and acted upon the importance of a people having an awareness and knowledge of their contributions to humanity, and left behind an impressive legacy. A founder of Journal of Negro History, Dr. Woodson is known as the Father of Black History.
He was born December 19, 1875, in New Canton, Virginia, the son of former slaves James and Elizae Riddle Woodson. His father helped Union soldiers during the Civil War, and he moved his family to West Virginia when he heard that Huntington was building a high school for blacks. Coming from a large, poor family, Carter Woodson could not regularly attend school. Through self-instruction, Woodson mastered the fundamentals of common school subjects by age 17.
Wanting more education, Carter went to Fayette County to earn a living as a miner in the coal fields. He was able to devote only a few months each year to his schooling. In 1895, at age 20, Woodson entered Douglass High School where he received his diploma in less than two years. From 1897 to 1900, Woodson taught in Fayette County. In 1900 he was selected as the principal of Douglass High School. He earned his Bachelor of Literature degree from Berea College in Kentucky.
From 1903 to 1907 Woodson was a school supervisor in the Philippines. Later, he attended the University of Chicago, where he was awarded an M.A. in 1908. He was a member of the first black fraternity Sigma Pi Phi and a member of Omega Psi Phi. He completed his Ph.D. in history at Harvard University in 1912, where he was only the second African-American (after W.E.B. DuBois) to earn a doctorate. His doctoral dissertation,The Disruption of Virginia, was based on research he did at the Library of Congress while teaching high school in Washington, D.C. After earning the doctoral degree, he continued teaching in the public schools, later joining the faculty at Howard University as a professor and served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.