George Sherman Carter (1911-1998)

Baker Explosion, Operation Crossroads, Bikini Atoll, July 25, 1946
Courtesy United States Department of Defense

George Sherman Carter, research chemist, was born on May 10, 1911 in Gloucester County, Virginia. Carter, called Sherman, was one of four boys and one girl born to George Peter and Emily Maude Carter. Not much is known of Carter’s childhood or of his move north but in 1936 Carter began his studies at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he majored in biology. Carter was very active in the school community, joining Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the track team, the New York Club and Wissenschaft Verein (Science Club). After graduation in 1940 Carter attended Columbia University’s Teachers College as well as the College of the City of New York.

Carter married Kathleen Francis and the two of them had a daughter, Beverly Kathleen. In 1943 Carter was hired at Columbia University in New York to work in tandem with the University of Chicago studying nuclear fission. This project was set up by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the famed Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic bomb.  While at Columbia, Carter worked for Isidor Isaac Rabi, who led the Columbia group of scientists. That group included William and Lawrence Knox.

After the end of the Manhattan Project, Carter and his family remained in Harlem. Carter became an integral part of the community. He was an active member of the Abyssinian Baptist Church but later joined the Unity Church, both in Harlem. Although little is known about his work history after the Manhattan Project, he did join the American Association of Scientific Workers.

George Sherman Carter died in his home in Harlem, New York on November 13, 1998 after a long illness. He was 87.