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Hope Chests? A Long Gone Memory

In earlier centuries, every bride was expected to have a hope chest or dower chest. Girls living before 1900 were expected to start weaving and sewing sheets, towels, tablecloths, lace, quilts and other textiles to be used when they married. Samplers were originally samples of the embroidery skill of the girls. The skill was important because every piece of fabric in the chest was monogrammed. Textiles were among the most valuable assets in the home. It took weeks to spin, weave and sew a linen or cotton sheet or towel. The wooden chests were usually decorated with carving or painting and kept in an important spot in the house of the new bride and was used for storage.

So what exactly happened to the tradition of the Hope Chest? In the "olden days" you couldn't just run to Target and make a wedding registry with all the linens you needed for your new home so you began early making them. Girls were taught from a very young age to sew, embroidery, and do handicrafts. The question wasn't "if I decid to marry" rather "when I marry". Marriage was a fact of life for all girls and a life without a husband and family was unthinkable.

Today in our world of career women, many are choosing never to marry. Our modern generation is confused about the very purpose for women. I am teaching my daughter at every possible opprotunity that marriage is of God and is in God's will for her.

So back to the Hope Chest. I had one as a child. My mother bought all sorts of things to fill it. Towels, knick-knacks, kitchen utensils I think I even has some baby things in there. When I was a teen we fell on difficult times and the things in the chest had to be sold. I didn't realize the value of the things within, they had very little monotary value. I now look back and can feel the loss of memories. So I would like to bring this back in our family, not so much for the need of things but for the importance of marriage in a ladies life. I want my Hannah to look forward to marriage as a very special blessing from God.

Thanks to Harmony Cedar for the image. Check out their site, they have lovely hope chests for very reasonable prices.


  1. We give ours girls a nice hope chest for their 18th birthday.

    My oldest daughter filled hers with linens and dishes before she got married 3 months ago. My 19 year old daughter has hers filled with piano music and books. :-)

    3 more daughters to go....

    Nice post, thanks!

  2. Oh, I'm so sad for you that everything in your hope chest had to be sold. :(

    I didn't have a hope chest before I was married, yet I always had the desire to have one. Being in a large family (I'm the oldest of 9 kids) space was at a premium anyhow. I did have a box that I tucked things away in. My sisters called it my "hopeless box". LOL

    Several years ago, my husband and I stopped at a yard sale, and there was an ugly hopechest selling for $5. I didn't want it, but my husband thought he could strip it (it was painted black!) and refinish it for me.

    He did, and it is gorgeous! I'm glad he insisted on buying it!

    I'll have to blog about my hope chest now. :D

    Have a great day!

  3. Tori, I just love this post about the hope chest. I'm thrilled to say that my husband is a craftsman when working with wood. He plans on making our daughter one at the appropriate time. One of my goals is to have a Quilting-B with the ladies in our church just before she turns 16. Each lady will do a different scene on their patch having to do with home or marriage and the quilt will be pieced together and placed in her hope chest for birthday. I'm so looking forward to it. Of course, she is only 11 right now, but the time passes quickly.
    Thanks for the post. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  4. What a lovely post Tori! I didn't have one of these growing up either but I did get one after marriage. My parents got it for a great price and it is not just cedar lined, it is made entirely out of cedar with copper hardware on it. I LOVE it so much!


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