Sarah Goode Becomes First African-American Woman to Receive a Patent

Sarah E. Goode (b.1850s-d. c. 1905) was the first African-American woman to receive a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

However this claim is disputed by some that believe Marjorie Joyner to be the first African-American woman to receive a patent.

Born a slave, Goode gained her freedom after the American Civil War and moved to Chicago, Illinois. She soon opened a furniture store that was modestly successful. Due to the limited living spaces of urban life, many of her customers complained about not having enough room to place full-size beds in their apartments. Goode was inspired to design and construct what is known today as the Folding Bed.

Goode's first model of a bed folded into a cabinet. It additionally served as a roll-top desk and stationery shelf. Her idea was so widely used that Goode applied for and was awarded a patent on July 14, 1885. (Patent #322,177, for a cabinet bed).

A similar style of bed was patented more than thirty years later in 1916 as the Murphy bed. It was concealed behind a closet door or wall, rather than inside a piece of furniture, such as the cabinet bed. Today it is known as a "folding bed" or the "hide away bed".

Goode's name appears in the Cook County, Illinois US Census for 1880, when she was living with her husband Archibald, her daughter, and several boarders. Her age is listed as 24, giving her a birth date of around 1856. She is listed as Mulatto, as is her daughter; Archibald is listed as White. While other biographical sources agree that Goode was born into slavery, the Census notes she stated she was born in Spain to Spanish parents.

A 43-year-old woman named Sarah E. Goode died in Chicago on April 8, 1905. If this is the same Sarah E. Goode, there is a three to five year age discrepancy. Little is know about Goode education and how she died.

Sarah E. Goode was born into slavery in 1850. She was the first African American woman to be granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Tradesmark Office for her invention, the cabinet bed, on July 14, 1885. Freed at the end of the Civil War, Goode moved to Chicago and became an entrepreneur. As owner of a furniture store she noted that city apartment dwellers often had little space for beds. She conceived the design of what we know today as the "hide away" bed. She described the design as "a folding bed" whose hinged sections were easily raised or lowered. When not in use as a bed, Goode's invention could also be used as a desk.