She was born Sarah Jacobs to parents Oliver and Harriet Jacobs of Toledo, Ohio in approximately 1855. The family was enumerated in the 1860 Census in Toledo, listed as being of the Mulatto race, and Oliver was a carpenter. By 1870 the family had migrated to Chicago where Oliver was still employed as a carpenter. Sarah was fifteen years old that year and by the 1880 census she had married Archibald Goode, he employed as a stair builder.
Curiously, on the 1880 census, Sarah’s birth place, as well as that of her parents, is listed as “Spain”. It does seem that there are several versions of her life story, including that she was born into slavery – if she was born in Ohio, I don’t believe that was the case. Some sources have her being freed after the Civil War and moving to Chicago to become an entrepreneur, opening a furniture store, presumably with Archibald. The reason given for her invention was that she heard stories of people needing a bed that didn’t take up a lot of space.
Whatever her history was, set that aside and take a look at her 1885 patent for a folding bed – if it was invented to save people space then it was truly a genius idea (and pretty cool looking). It was called a cabinet bed and the patent was granted on July 14, 1885.
Her invention was a forerunner of the Murphy bed which was patented in 1900. I like her invention because it could double as a roll-top desk. Her invention also reminded me of a folding bathtub I saw in Encampment, Wyoming:
Sarah Goode is acclaimed as the first African-American woman to receive a patent. Time Magazine recently had an article about a new high school located on Chicago’s south side that is named in her honor. Attendees of the school are not called students, but rather “innovators”. Touted as a “school that will get you a job”, it is focused on STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!