CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Sarah Elisabeth Goode (1855 – April 8, 1905) was an entrepreneur and inventor. She was the first African-American woman to receive a United States patent, which she received in 1885.
She was born as Sarah Elisabeth Jacobs in 1855 in Toledo, Ohio, although she would sometimes say that she was born in Spain. Sarah Goode was the second of seven children of Oliver and Harriet Jacobs, both described in public records as mulattos. Oliver Jacobs, a native of Indiana was a carpenter. When the American Civil War ended the family moved to Chicago, Illinois where she met and married Archibald “Archie” Goode, who was originally from Wise County, Virginia; they would have six children, of whom three would live to adulthood. He described himself in the records as a “stair builder” and as an upholsterer; she opened a furniture store.
The idea for her invention came out of necessity of the times. Most people she knew lived in small homes or studios and these residents had a minimum amount of habitable space. Many of her customers complained of not having enough room to store things much less to add furniture. Goode invented a folding cabinet bed which helped people who lived in tight housing to utilize their space efficiently. When the bed was folded up, it looked like a desk, with room for storage. She received a patent for it on July 14, 1885. Her invention was the precursor to the murphy bed, which was patented in 1900. The procedures behind this invention were, at first, to create something that has never been done before. Secondly, to balance out the weight of the folding of the bed for it to be easily lifted up, folding and unfolding. Thirdly, to secure the bed on each side so that when folding the bed it would stay in its place. Lastly, she provided supplementary support to the center of the bed when it is unfolded.