Black Excellence

28 DOBE- Day 15: The Inventive Sarah E. Goode

sarah e goode, black inventors, black history, black history month, black excellence

She was born into slavery. She gained freedom and started a furniture store. She invented the fold-away bed and dove into the history books.


28 Days of Black Excellence

An ongoing series for the entire 28 days of Black History Month that showcases the inventions, the people, and culture that makes people of the African diaspora so excellent.

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”green” border_width=”3″][vc_column_text]She was born into slavery. She gained freedom and started a furniture store. She invented the fold-away bed and dove into the history books.

Born in 1850, into slavery, Sarah E. Goode couldn’t have expected much as a child. What is good is that destiny, and a war, had another plan for her. At the end of the Civil War, Ms. Goode moved up to Chicago and founded a furniture store with her carpenter husband, something unheard of at that time. Former slaves making businesses for themselves? No one wanted to hear that! But business they did, and success did follow. But Goode had bigger dreams.

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Listening to customer’s complaints about how beds took up most of the space in their small, working-class apartments, Good came up with an idea of how to change this. She constructed an item she called a folding bed, which could retract into a wooden cabinet case for more room. It could also be used as a working desk because it had wheels and a small bit of compartmental space for paperwork and other items to fit. The mattress with spring support was fully hidden from view. Her patent is dated July 14, 1885.

W.L. Murphy later got a patent for this same idea, but with a little more practical tweaks in 1912. A hideaway couch is also now available because of her original patent.

But since then, her genius has spread. A college-prep school in Chicago is even named after her! According to the website:

Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy is one of the five CPS Early College STEM Schools. We connect high school, college and the world of work to prepare students for technology jobs of the future. Our dynamic partnerships with IBM and Richard J. Daley College allow students to work with leading professionals, acquire industry certifications and earn significant college credit while completing a rigorous high school program. Together, CPS, Colleges and our corporate partners are pioneering a new vision for college and career readiness.

Although she may have died in 1905, her black excellence lives on, and I hope that you will remember her each time you pull out your foldaway bed, futon, or hideaway couch. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Alex Miller

Alex Miller is a freelance writer living in Harlem. His work has appeared in Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other places.