Sarah E. Goode

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Sarah E. Goode
Sarah Elisabeth Jacobs

1855 (1855)
DiedApril 8, 1905 (1905-04-09) (aged 50)
OccupationInventor and entrepreneur
Known forSecond African-American woman to receive a United States patent

Sarah Elisabeth Goode (1855 – April 8, 1905) was an inventor. She was the second known African-American woman to receive a United States patent, which she received in 1885.[1] The first known African-American woman to receive a patent was Judy W. Reed on September 23, 1884, but Reed only signed her patent with her mark (an X) and not her signature.[2]


Patent issued to Sarah E. Goode for the 'folding bed cabinet'

Goode was born as Sarah Elisabeth Jacobs in 1855 in Toledo, Ohio, the same year the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted.[3] 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.[4] After the end of the Civil War, the family then moved to Chicago, Illinois where Sarah 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.[5][6] Archie described himself in the records as a "stair builder" and as an upholsterer; Sarah opened a furniture store.[7]

Sarah Goode invented a folding cabinet bed which helped people who lived in tight housing to efficiently utilize their limited living space. At the time of her invention, housing in New York City was expanding upwards, but became restricted in 1885 when New York City passed a law that restricted buildings to be under 80 feet, as to combat commercial buildings becoming too tall. Tenement buildings usually had a footprint of 25 feet by 100 feet.[8] In these environments, every square foot was important, and saving space was necessary. Goode heard of this problem from customers of her furniture store in Chicago, and set out to make a solution.[3] Goode's bed could be folded up, and it looked like a desk, with room for storage. She received a patent for it on July 14, 1885, and given patent number #322,177.[9][10][11] Her invention was the precursor to the Murphy bed, which was patented in 1900.[12] Her goal was to balance out the weight of the folding of the bed for it to be easily lifted up, folding and unfolding and to secure the bed on each side so that when folding the bed it would stay in its place. She provided supplementary support to the center of the bed when it is unfolded.[13]

Goode died April 8, 1905.[13]

Folding Bed Invention[edit]

Some articles state that Sarah E. Goode is the first African American woman to receive a United States patent.[14] Other articles attribute the first to Judy Reed who invented the dough-kneading machine and Miriam Benjamin, who invented the hotel chair to signal for waiter service.[14]

The patent was for a folding bed that would become the precursor to the Murphy Bed. It was a cabinet bed which folded into a roll-top desk which had compartments for writing supplies and stationary.[15]


In 2012, the Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy (formerly known as Southwest Area High School project) a science and math-focused high school was opened in her honor on the south side of Chicago.[16][17] It is part of the Chicago Public Schools Urban Model High School (UMHS).[17]

The school focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math to help students prepare for future careers. There are partnerships with IBM and students are encouraged to graduate with industry certifications and two years of college credit. The students also get professional mentors and internships.[18]


  1. ^ "Goode, Sarah E. (c. 1855–1905)". The Black Past. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  2. ^ "USPTO recognizes inventive women during Women's History Month". US Patent and Trademark Office. March 1, 2002. Archived from the original on August 2, 2018. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Inventor Sarah E. Goode, the first Black woman awarded a patent". Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  4. ^ 1860 Federal Census for the Third Ward of the City of Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio, p. 203.
  5. ^ 1870 Federal Census for the Second Ward, city of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, p. 148.
  6. ^ 1880 Federal census for Cook County (Illinois) Enumeration District 2, Sheet 43, Lines 19–26.
  7. ^ "Sarah E. Goode". Inventors. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  8. ^ Editors, History com. "Tenements". Retrieved 2019-08-08.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Hiphopucit (February 27, 2011). "Black History: Sarah E. Goode – Inventor Of The Cabinet Bed". Hip Hop U-C-IT. Archived from the original on July 3, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  10. ^ US patent 322177, Sarah E. Goode, "Cabinet-Bed", issued July 14, 1885 , Chicago, Illinois.
  11. ^ Full patent image (12 pages) 322177 – Folding Beds – Sarah E. Goode at National Archives
  12. ^ "Mothers of Invention: Sarah E. Goode (Cabinet Bed)". Digging History. March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Sullivan, Otha Richard (2002). African American Women Scientists and Inventors. Haskins, James. New York: Wiley. ISBN 047138707X. OCLC 46456247.
  14. ^ a b "Sarah E. Goode". Clara Barton Museum. 2016-01-06. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  15. ^ "Sarah E. Goode". Biography. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  16. ^ Foroohar, Rana (February 24, 2014). "The School That Will Get You a Job". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy". PBC Chicago. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  18. ^ "Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy". Retrieved 2021-02-21.