Democratizing the Chair
“I do not however confine myself to any precise form or size of chair or frame further than the projecting arm within the disk of the wheel … [secured to] a plank of proper width circled out in front with a common chair mounted on its back end with two plain hind wheels and would with the other parts claimed afford a cheap and efficient perambulator for the afflicted poor who will perhaps oftener need its assistance than the wealthy who can afford those of costlier structure.” 1853 Thomas Minniss, Meadville, Pennsylvania.
Americans began patenting improvements to the invalid chair in the early 1800s. Among the inventors were women. As caregivers of the sick and the elderly, they focused on how the chair eased feeding, cleaning, and toileting invalids. The first Canadian patent to improve an invalid chair dates from 1875. Joseph Roy of Montreal claimed a construction method which allowed the person in the chair to shift between upright and reclining without assistance.