Featured Object

In each issue, the bimonthly DAR magazine, American Spirit, highlights an object from the DAR Museum collection in its "National Treasures" feature. These objects, often recent accessions or important pieces in the current exhibit, always have a story to tell about American history.

National Treasures

For Madame's Trousseau

This distinctive chest with drawer, circa 1710–1715, leaves little doubt as to the identity of the original owner. Mary Burt, born in Springfield, Mass., was around 15 years old when she received this personalized present from her parents—a common practice in the 18th century. A gift to the DAR Museum from Mrs. Carlos E. Pitkin in 1947, the chest allowed Mary to store and secure under lock and key the textiles and other valuables that she would take to a new household when she married Preserved Marshall in 1716.

Mary’s parents chose expensive carved decorations to adorn the white oak chest’s front, which required the meticulous attention of a skilled craftsman. In order to highlight the carved stylized flowers, the decorative elements were originally painted red, black and white or possibly yellow.

Having her maiden name on the chest allowed Mary to retain her own identity even after marriage. This practice was a holdover from European patriarchal society in which men owned “real” property, such as land or homes, and women occasionally owned “moveable” property, like this chest. Often, though, laws strictly controlled and restricted the ownership of property by women. In light of these limits, it seems as though her parents were announcing to the world that this chest was Mary’s forever.

American Spirit, Volume 140, No. 3, May/June 2006, Page 9
Photo by Mark Gulezian/QuickSilver

More National Treasures

Sitting Pretty

To the Rescue

Strange Brew

Tayloe Family Ties

Ornamental Trio

Reviving the Stone

A Record to Remember

Strong Set

Fashion Flashback

Let's Go Ride a Bike


Isn't It Romantic

A Rockin' Good Toy

The Mystery of Mother and Child

Keep Cool

Dress for the Ages

Historical Register

Banjo Time

Getting Warmer

Virginia Map Quest

Serve It Up

Greatest Toy on Earth

Dress for the Day

Boston Uncommon

A Teapot to Revere

Seats of Honor

Birthday Threads


Play On

Top Drawer

Burning Bright

Seated in Revolution

Something to Crow About

Sister Stitch

Tea Time

Capturing Cherubs

A Link to the Past

Brushes with Fame

Something Borrowed

Supper Is Served

Stately Seats

Heirloom High Chest

Making Beautiful Music

Forged From Fire

Let It Out

Heavenly Harmonies

Priceless Pooch

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