She was born Sarah Elizabeth Jacobs in 1855 in Toledo, Ohio, although she would sometimes say that she was born in Spain. Sarah Goode was the second of seven children of Oliver and Harriet Jacobs, both described in public records as mulattos. Oliver Jacobs, a native of Indiana was a carpenter. When the American Civil War ended the family moved to Chicago, Illinois where she met and married Archibald “Archie” Goode, who was originally from Wise County, Virginia; they would have six children, of whom three would live to adulthood. He described himself in the records as a “stair builder” and as an upholsterer; she opened a furniture store.
The idea for her invention came out of necessity of the times. Most people she knew lived in small homes or studios and these residents had a minimum amount of habitable space. Many of her customers complained of not having enough room to store things much less to add furniture. Goode invented a folding cabinet bed which provided people who lived in small spaces to utilize their space efficiently. When the bed was folded up, it looked like a desk. The desk was fully functional, with spaces for storage. She received a patent for it on July 14, 1885.