Carter G. Woodson Birthplace Monument
Dedicated in 1979 by the local chapter of the organization known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, this monument honors Carter G. Woodson, one of the leading historians of the 20th century. Woodson was a prominent educator and publisher and is remembered today as the "Father of Black History" for his role in establishing academic journals, periodicals, organizations, and traditions dedicated to the study of African American history. He was also the founder of Negro History Week, recognized annually in February as Black History Month. Woodson was born near this site in Buckingham County on December 19, 1875.
Portrait of African-American historian Carter Godwin Woodson as a young man. Courtesy of the New River Gorge National River website, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, United States Government.
Roccisano, Rose. "Woodson Rewrote History." The Herald Dispatch 13 Feb. 1992. Print. Marshall University Special Collections.
Massey, Tim R. "Living Memorials." The Herald Dispatch 6 Apr. 1987: 1-2. Print. Marshall University Special Collections.
Benos, Deanne. "Woodson Project Ground Broken." The Herald Dispatch [Huntington] 30 May 1992: n. pag. Print. Marshall University Special Collections.
Peeks, Edward. "Ex-miner Started History Month." Charleston Gazette 26 Feb. 1986. Print. Marshall University Special Collections.
Photo of the historical marker by Bernard Fisher
Photo of the monument dedicated in 1979 to Woodson's memory. Original photo by Devry Becker Jones resized for this platform
This plaque was dedicated by the Association for the Study for African American Life and History, the organization Woodson established as the Association for the Study of Negro History in 1915. Photo by Bernard Fisher
Backstory and Context
While the exact address of his original family home is unknown, several historians have authored books about his life. Woodson left Virginia in 1892 to seek employment in the timberlands, mines, and railroads of West Virginia in hopes of saving enough money to support his education. After working in Nutallburg and other mining communities, he attended and graduated high school in Huntington, WV. He later taught at that same school and secured a degree from Berea College with coursework from the University of Chicago before earning a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Carter G. Woodson, known by many as the “Father of Black History,” was born in New Canton, Buckingham County, Virginia in 1875 to former slaves. His father, James Henry Woodson was enslaved on the Toney Plantation near Richmond. When the Civil War broke out, James fled his master and came across a Union cavalry unit, which unit took him back to his master to only, according to Woodson family oral history, tied up Master Toney and whipped him. After this event, James Woodson would stay with this same unit of cavalry and act as a scout. One such mission concluded with the destruction of Confederate supplies. After marrying Anne Eliza Riddle, they moved to Buckingham County, VA (western Virginia) when land in the area became available for freed slaves. James and Anne would raise a large family and generate a decent, but not highly profitable, farm life Carter Woodson was the eldest son of the family with 8 other siblings. He was sickly through most of his youth and was oft times considered his mother's favorite child. Woodson and his siblings were only able to attend school four months out of the year at a one-room school house because their help was needed on the family farm. In 1892 he left Buckingham County for West Virginia to seek employment in the coal mines of Fayette County as well as furthering his education since that was not possible at the time where he lived. Woodson moved to Huntington, West Virginia in 1895.
Romero, Patricia Watkins, Carter G. Woodson: A Biography. Ann Arbor, University Microfilms International 1986. 1971 Doctoral Dissertation (copy can be found at http://www.marshall.edu/special-collections/#gsc.tab=0) Goggin, Jacqueline, Carter G. Woodson: A Life in Black History. Baton Rouge Louisiana State University Press 1993