Black History Month #20 - Sarah Boone's Modern Ironing Board

Sarah Boone (1832-1904)

Did you know that our modern-day ironing board was invented by a Black woman who'd been born in 1832 to enslaved parents in North Carolina? Prior to the Civil War, Sarah Boone, her husband, children and widowed mother migrated to New Haven, Connecticut utilizing a network tied to the Underground Railroad. Boone became a dressmaker and her husband was a bricklayer, until his death in the mid-1870s. Boone realized that she needed a way to press the sleeves and bodices of ladies' clothes, so she applied for and received a patent in 1892, making her one of the first African American women to receive one. Her patent significantly improved the design of previous ironing boards. In the 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."

Prior to this, many women, and women in poorer circumstances, used a board supported by two chairs. Her addition of a padded surface and a smaller rounded end helped ironing become much more efficient.

Learn more about her here:

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Preserving and sharing the New Deal history of an experimental planned community built by FDR in suburban Maryland in 1937 and still thriving today.