Marriage Monday: The Hope Chest

Hello, Friends!

Sorry for the missed Faith Filled Friday and DIY Saturday – but our household was completely devoted with settling Trooper (previously named Brazil) into his new home!

Today’s Marriage Monday is going to be centered around something that is mostly female-based but went along with the subject of marriage perfectly.

Last week, I received a letter from my friend Hayley asking a few questions about my hope chest, why I wanted one, and the history of them! I was absolutely thrilled to get these questions!

Some of you may have read my other two blog posts about my Hope Chest, and this is what prompted Hayley to want to know more. 🙂

I think before we get into why I wanted one, we should look into the historical value of Hope Chests and modern interpretations of them today.

The History of the Hope Chest

Hope Chests have many historical names: dowry chest, cedar chest, trousseau chest and glory box are common historical names of what we now call hope chest. 

Ancient Egyptians started to make cedar boxes to protect their clothing, papyrus documents and golden treasures from months and insects.

They were first written about in 15th and 16th century Italy and were mainly used by families of power, though it didn’t take long for the word to spread and for middle and lower income families to provide them for their own daughters.

The name “glory box”  was used in the UK and Australia, primarily.

When the settlers came, a lot of those women brought their own hope chest along and it was in that box where they kept their most precious belongings!

You probably have a great-grandmother, grandmother or someone in your family that had their own Hope Chest or knew someone who did.

Historically a young woman was given the Hope Chest as a gift on her 16th birthday, though this hasn’t always been followed. Some young women received it when younger, and some in their 20’s.

In the 1940’s with the rise of what is now modern feminism with Rosie the Riveter at the forefront, the meaning of the Hope Chest was starting to be forgotten and by the 1960’s and 70’s, Hope Chests were used but few and far between.

What Do Hope Chests Symbolize?

The Hope Chest symbolizes just that – a hope for the future.

Young women from all across the globe see a Hope Chest as something precious to hand down to their daughters for when they are preparing to grab their wings and fly into a mature adult life.

Hope Chests are seen as something to gather items for your future home with your husband and family.

Some young women also have them in college or their first apartment, while others keep them strictly for their own home shared with a future spouse or a combination of these!

What Do You Put Into A Hope Chest?

Historically women have put linens, china, picture frames, keepsakes and photo albums or family Bibles/books. If you like to make things, anything you have made can also be put with the other items.

If you like to sew, crochet or knit you can make things for your Hope Chest years in advance.

They are lined with cedar because this wood keeps away moths and other insects and smells wonderful, too!

A lot of modern women keep the historical items as far as what they put in their Hope Chests – useful, personalized items that can be used for your future home.

What Did I Put In Mine?

For my hope chest, I made a lot of items beforehand and also had family heirlooms and documents that I found a place for in my own chest.

I crocheted and knitted a few items, as well as sewed items for mine – some I kept in it, some I re-made after I got more experienced with my crafting!

Another thing I stowed in mine were cookbooks, photo frames, movies and I even stored my wedding veil and headband in it after I became engaged. There were a lot of family heirlooms I put in it, along with letters to my future married and engaged self in which I talked about my hopes and excitement!

I received my Hope Chest when I became 18, but I started collecting and making items for it seriously when I was probably 13 or 14.

I kept the items in a box in a corner of my childhood bedroom – these things transferred to my Hope Chest after I received it.

When Should One Start A Hope Chest?

I’ve heard this one a lot in my own circle of friends, and the answer is – whenever you feel inclined to do so! 

Maybe you grew up not really knowing about Hope Chests at all, but you think they are neat and want to have your own – you can start today!

You might not have your own cedar lined chest, but kinda like the 13-year-old me, you probably have a large box or shelf that you can start putting things you collect into.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 13 or 36, a Hope Chest can be started at any time.

While it’s historically for unmarried women, there are plenty of already wed women that have started one for a future child or grandchildren to pass on!

Why Did I Choose To Have A Hope Chest?

Ever since I was little, I knew that someday I wanted to be a wife and mother and run my own household.

Plus, it was fun to collect and make things for the future 🙂

My parents also knew that they wanted to gift this item to me since I was a baby, and my Hope Chest is made from a tree that fell in Hurricane Fran from our farm in 1996. It was one of the seven oak trees that our farm was named after, so it also holds personal meaning!

It’s lined with heirloom cedar and made by family, which I love.

Having a Hope Chest was also something that struck me as very Southern, because in the South it seems to be a staple in any married woman’s home!

A Hope Chest is also something that is not out of style, and has many modern admirers and uses after a young woman has her own home.

What Does My Hope Chest Hold Now?

As a married woman now, my Hope Chest is still just as used as it was before I got married!

Now, it sits at the end of the master bed and acts as both seating and decor, but also holds combined family heirlooms and things that I make and collect for Samuel and I’s future (and hoped for) children.

I crochet baby blankets and store handmade wooden toys in it, as well as children’s books.

Family Bibles and video tapes, photo albums, old movies and love letters from when Samuel and I first began dating are kept in the Hope Chest.

Where Do I Get My Own Hope Chest?

You can purchase handmade, cedar lined hope Chests online from woodworking shops as well as the Amish for a good investment and in my opinion, it’s an investment worth making because a well made Hope Chest lasts for generations upon generations!

Chests from Walmart and Target are modern-day retailers as well, though most of these come without a cedar lining and may need better craftsmanship done in the future.

If you know someone that is a woodworker, a family member or family friend, they can more than likely be commissioned to make you one as well.

All in all, a Hope Chest is a wonderful piece to have in your home or to have for your future home!

It isn’t an old-fashioned tale, but a timeless treasure to love and pass on from generation to generation, a piece to hold hopes and dreams and things that are uniquely you!

I absolutely adore having a Hope Chest, and even after my marriage, I’m finding new dreams and hopes to store in it and keep using it and cherishing it every day.

Hopefully this post answered your questions, Hayley, and I hope it also helped some of my other readers! 🙂

Happy Monday, friends!


Autumn Renae




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Hello, there! I'm so glad you stumbled across my blog! I'm passionate about striving to live the Proverbs 31 model, my Sweet Hubby, and blogging about Homemaking and DIY Crafts! Want to know more? Visit my business website or look at the latest blogpost!

9 thoughts on “Marriage Monday: The Hope Chest

  1. This is so sweet! The chest is beautiful, and I love the story behind how it was made. What a neat idea to store things up for your hopes for the future! 🙂


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