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Sarah Boone was born enslaved in Craven County, North Carolina in 1832, as Sarah Marshall. She married James Boone in 1847, with whom she had eight children. Shortly after the marriage, the couple were freed under unknown circumstances and moved to New Haven, Connecticut, USA. Here, Sarah Boone worked as a dressmaker. During her work, Boone encountered the dilemma of how to flatten out creases in the sleeves and bodies of women’s dresses. Boone made her name by inventing the ironing board, or more specifically, made significant improvements to the ironing board.
During the 19th century, a female African American inventor was very rare as it was mostly Caucasian men who were praised and acknowledged for their creations. In her patent application for her invention, it was said that the purpose was to produce a cheap, simple, convenient and highly effective device. This ambitious woman noted at the time that her board could also be produced flat rather than curved, which is ideal for the cut of the sleeves of men’s coats. What Sarah Boone was proposing was a big improvement to what most people had been using for a long time. Her ironing board was specifically made for anyone to iron their clothes without worrying about the sleeves having creases.
Boone’s invention stood out so significantly that she was issued patent number 473,653 on April 26, 1892. Receiving this patent, made Sarah Boone one of the first African American women to receive a patent for a device that can be found in many homes to this day.
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