Born in New Canton, Virginia, in 1875, Woodson was the son of former slaves, James and Eliza Riddle Woodson. Carter Woodson would go on to move with his family to West Virginia after his father learned that Charleston was building a high school for black people. His pursuit of education eventually led him to Berea College located in Berea, KY. Founded in 1855, Berea College was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Woodson received his BA in Literature in 1903 from Berea, went on to attend the University of Chicago, and ultimately he completed his PhD in History at Harvard University in 1912. He was the second African American to do so, the first being W.E.B. Du Bois.
Woodson also devoted his career to studying and promoting cultures that were understated or misrepresented. This passion led him to publish The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, The Journal of Negro History, and A Century of Negro Migration. Carter G. Woodson also created the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
Carter G. Woodson is probably best known for being the founder of Negro History Week in Washington, DC in 1926. He wanted to acknowledge African American contributions to American history that he felt were often overlooked, ignored, or suppressed. The original event was set for the second week in February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
Negro History Week found acceptance and later grew to become what is now known as Black History Month, deeming Carter G. Woodson the father of black history.