Sarah Boone was an African American dressmaker who made her name by inventing the modern-day ironing board in 1892.
During her teenage years, she was taught how to read and write by her grandfather who wanted her to become a valuable member of the society,
On November 25, 1847, she married James Boone, a free black man and was granted freedom from slavery, – most likely her husband paid for her freedom. The couple went on to have eight children.
The Boone family would eventually relocate to New Haven, Connecticut, before the outbreak of the American Civil War. There Boone worked full time as a dressmaker.
While working as a dressmaker, her need to present a professional finish to the garments she created impelled her to invent the modern ironing board.
Boone’s ironing board was designed to improve the quality of ironing the sleeves and bodies of women’s garments. The ironing board was very narrow, curved, and made of wood. The shape and structure allowed it to fit a sleeve and it was reversible, so one could iron both sides of the sleeve. Her creation which was collapsible for easy storage was also padded, to eliminate the impressions produced by a wooden board.
On April 26, 1892, Sarah Boone obtained United States patent number 473,563 for her improvements to the ironing board making her the second African-American woman to attain a patent, after Judy Reed.
In her patent application, she wrote that the purpose of her invention was “to produce a cheap, simple, convenient and highly effective device, particularly adapted to be used in ironing the sleeves and bodies of ladies’ garments.”
Boone died in 1904, and is buried in a family plot in Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven.