Sarah E. Goode was the owner of a furniture store in Chicago, Illinois. Her claim to fame is that she was the first Black Woman to receive a patent.
Sarah Goode, the first Black American woman to have the earliest patent on record was supposedly born and raised in the United States. Most bibliographies speculate that she was born a slave and was emancipated after the civil war.
According to the Cook County, Illinois Census, Sarah was born around 1880; however The Census also has Goode claiming she was born in Spain. This is just one of the discrepancies regarding Goode the other regards whether or not she is the first black woman to hold a US Patent. The other woman is Marjorie Joyner, who invented the permanent Wave or straightening machine which would create à Wave in The Hair that would last for days. If Joyner were in the running for first patent she would have to have been born a good 20 years before 1885 when Goode’s Patent was awarded in July of that Year. This is not the case as Joyner was born in October 24, 1896.
It does seem however, that there is a more likely candidate in question; Mary Dixon Kies who created hats by weaving Straw to Silk or thread. This was patented in 1809 on May 18. There is no official Record due to a Fire that destroyed many Patents including Dixons. There is some other documentation to confirm that this Patent did exist. Makes you wonder what other Genius Patents perished.
So for record according to the Patent office Sarah Goode gets First Patent on file. A Patent for what? Well after the Civil War, Goode moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she opened her own furniture shop. Her store made a modest amount of money.
It wasn’t until she decided to create a sort of folding bed or cabinet bed as she described it. This idea 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. She decide to create a fold out cabinet that when pulled out became a flat bed and when folded back up to store would be used as a roll top desk or a stationary like shelf. This creation is similar to the pull out beds of today. This small compact creation proved quite successful.
A little more than 30 years to the date of Goode’s invention, the Murphy bed was created in 1916. Using the same concept, this bed folded up behind a closet door instead of furniture.
We do not know exactly when Mrs. Goode died, but there are records of a 55 year old woman by that same name listed as deceased April 8, 1905.