Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee Institute
On his trip Johnson met Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Aside from the photographs he took of Washington among the fields and woods of Tuskegee for the magazine assignment, Johnson also photographed some of the Institute's other members. In May of 1901 Washington wrote to Johnson mentioning the photos and article. A year later, George Washington Carver wrote two letters to Johnson, one thanking him for a visit and for sending prints of the pictures he took, and a second discussing Johnson's books.
Booker T. Washington was born in Virginia, and moved with his family to Malden, West Virginia after the end of slavery. Though a child, Washington was soon at work there in the salt mines. Like Carver, Washington's was self-taught from an old spelling book. When a school opened, Washington was at first not allowed to attend, but had to stay at work instead. Through diligence at night school and sporadic attendance of day school and lessons had while in the employ of a Northern transplant named Mrs. Ruffner, he gained an education.
In 1872 Booker T. Washington began at the Hampton Institute. He took a position as janitor at the school in order to pay his board, and volunteered, along with other young men, to sleep out in tents to relieve the dormitory's overcrowding. After graduating in 1875, Washington returned to West Virginia and taught day, night, and Sunday schools. Several of his students, including two of his brothers, also went to the Hampton Institute. In 1879 he returned to Hampton as a teacher. From this position, Washington was recommended as head of the new Tuskegee Institute.
Once in Alabama, Booker T. Washington found he had to practically build the school from the ground up. The school's first buildings were a Methodist church and an outbuilding. The school opened on July 4, 1881 and was planned on the Hampton system to include education in agriculture and trades. Soon after opening, the school moved to a former plantation just outside the town, where it has since grown into Tuskegee University.