Sarah Boone was an African American inventor who was born in 1832 in North Carolina, USA. She is known for her invention of the ironing board, which revolutionised the way people iron their clothes. In this article, we will explore 10 mind-blowing facts about Sarah Boone.
Here are 10 mind-blowing facts about Sarah Boone.
1. Born into Slavery and Escaped with the Help of the Underground Railroad
Sarah Boone, originally Sarah Marshall, was born in 1832 in Craven County, North Carolina, to enslaved parents.
After marrying James Boone, a free Black man, in 1847, the couple and their family, including Sarah’s widowed mother, managed to escape the oppressive conditions of the South using the Underground Railroad.
They settled in New Haven, Connecticut, where they built a new life and contributed to their community. They had eight children.
2. Trailblazer for Black Women Inventors
Sarah Boone was one of the first African American women to receive a patent in the United States.
Her accomplishment came just a few years after Judy Reed, believed to be the first African American woman to hold a patent.
Boone’s groundbreaking achievements paved the way for other Black women inventors and innovators to make their mark in history.
3. Sarah Boone’s Contribution to the Dressmaking Industry
Sarah Boone worked as a dressmaker in New Haven, Connecticut, while her husband worked as a bricklayer.
During her career, she noticed the difficulty of ironing the sleeves and bodices of ladies’ garments, which led her to invent the improved ironing board.
Her invention revolutionized the dressmaking industry, making it much easier for dressmakers to efficiently press garments without introducing unwanted creases.
4. Sarah Boone’s Ironing Board Patent
Boone’s invention aimed to make ironing the sleeves and bodies of women’s garments much more efficient. Her patented ironing board (U.S. Patent #473,653) was granted on April 26, 1892.
It featured a narrow and curved design, perfectly suited for the typical sleeve of women’s clothing during that period.
The reversible board made it easy to iron both sides of a sleeve without undoing the work on the other side.
Boone even mentioned in her patent that a flat variation of the board could be better suited for men’s clothing.
5. Boone’s Padded, Collapsible Ironing Board
In addition to the curved design, Sarah Boone’s ironing board featured padding to prevent impressions from the wooden board.
She also made her ironing board collapsible, allowing for easy storage when not in use. This practical innovation further enhanced the convenience of her invention.
6. Self-Educated Inventor and Community Member
After settling in New Haven, Sarah Boone became an active member of her community, regularly attending the Dixwell Congregational Church.
She also pursued education, learning to read and write despite the challenges faced by formerly enslaved people. Her writing skills proved invaluable when applying for her ironing board patent.
7. Ironing Board Predecessors
Boone’s patent was not the first for an ironing board. Folding ironing board patents appeared in the 1860s, and electric irons were patented in 1880.
However, Boone’s design greatly improved upon previous models, providing a more convenient and effective solution for ironing sleeves and other challenging garment sections.
8. Boone’s invention inspired other innovations
Boone’s invention of the ironing board inspired other innovators to improve on her design. In 1913, Mary B. Boardman patented an ironing board that was adjustable in height.
In 1920, John B. Porter patented an ironing board that was mounted on a swivel, allowing the user to rotate it to reach different angles. Boone’s invention was a catalyst for other improvements in the field of ironing.
9. Unknown Financial Gains
Although Sarah Boone’s ironing board became a widely used and indispensable household item, it is unclear whether she profited significantly from her invention.
Nonetheless, her creation made a lasting impact on the lives of countless homemakers and dressmakers.
10. Death and Legacy of Sarah Boone
Sarah Boone passed away on October 29, 1904, from Bright’s disease, now known as acute or chronic nephritis.
She is buried alongside her husband and mother in New Haven’s Evergreen Cemetery.
Her innovative contributions to the world of dressmaking and household chores are still remembered and appreciated today.
Boone’s contributions to the field of invention and her status as one of the first African American women to hold a patent serve as an inspiration for future generations of women inventors and innovators.
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