Female inventors: Sarah Boone

We can all appreciate a crisply ironed shirt and hems that fold to perfection. Did you know that you have Sarah Boones to thank for the ease in which you iron today?

Sarah Boone began life as Sarah Marshall, born in 1832. In 1847, at age 15, she married freedman James Boone in New Bern, North Carolina. They moved north to New Haven, Connecticut before the ​Civil War where she worked as a dressmaker while he was a brick mason. They had eight children.


On April 26, 1892, obtained United States patent rights for her improvements to the ironing board. Boone’s ironing board was designed to improve the quality of ironing sleeves and the bodies of women’s garments. The 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.

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.” Prior to that time, most people ironed using a board of wood rested across a pair of chairs or tables.

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