Let’s talk about how crucial irons are. Seriously, have you ever left your crib with wrinkled clothes? You are an easy target to get roasted! With an iron, you can save yourself from getting joaned on into oblivion. But do you know what comes in handy with an iron? You guessed it, an ironing board! Ironing boards truly make ironing easier, otherwise you be ironing on an uneven couch. And of course, this innovation was made by none other than a Black woman. Let me tell you about Sarah Boone.
Born Sarah Marshall in North Carolina in 1832, Sarah was unfortunately born into slavery. However, she did obtain her freedom. Some say that it was due to her husband James Boone, who was a free man. They married in 1847 and had 8 children together. Right before the Civil War, Boone and her family migrated to New Haven, Connecticut using a network tied to the Underground Railroad. When they settled into a Black neighborhood near Dixwell Avenue, it was here where Mrs. Boone had her first career.
Sarah Boone first worked as a dressmaker, while her husband worked as a bricklayer up until his death in the 1870s. However, Sarah Boone made enough money to own her own house. I don’t think y’all understand how amazing this is. Not only is this a woman in the 1800s, but a Black woman in the 1800s, owning her own house. Simply incredible. What is also incredible is that she took steps to learn to read and write. Back then, it was illegal for a Black person to read or write, so she took the initiative to learn in her late 40s. Sources say that it could have been through her membership at Dixie Congregational Church. After this, Boone went on to create her famous invention: the improved ironing board.
Boone was facing touch competition in the dressmaking game, and was trying to find a way for her dresses to be more eye-catching to customers. In the early 1890s, she experimented with the ironing board. See at this time, dressmakers were usually ironing their clothes on a wooden plank that was placed across two chairs. This worked for wide skirts, but for tight material, this didn’t work as well. Boone’s idea? To create a curved and narrow board that could slip into sleeves and allow for clothes to be moved without getting wrinkled. This was padded, which eliminated impressions that would come from a wooden board, as well as being made into a collapsible piece to store it better. In 1891, Boone applied for a patent for her improved ironing board, and was awarded U.S. Patent No. 473,653 a year later. Sarah Boone is one of the first Black women to earn a patent, absolutely incredible.
On October 29, 1904, Sarah Boone died from Bright’s disease. She was buried with her mother and husband in the Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven. The roughest part about being an inventor back in this time period is the fact that you don’t really get to benefit off of your products. There were a couple factors in this: one is the fact that there were only 12 years between the patent and her death, and two, she was a Black woman in the 1800s, which meant there was no respect or recognition. Today, I am here to rectify that. Sarah Boone, thank you for your contribution, your legacy will not be forgotten. MT Out!
Biography.com Editors. Sarah Boone Biography. 2 April 2014. 2 August 2020.
Photo Creds: YouTube