Archives & Special Collections
Swain School of Design
The Swain Free School of New Bedford, Massachusetts, was established in 1881 through the provisions of the will of New Bedford philanthropist William W. Swain. The following year it began offering courses in languages, literature, history, education, art, and chemistry free of charge to area residents who could not otherwise afford an education beyond public school. They were required to put down a deposit of $10 per semester, as a measure of good faith. As the textile industry became increasingly important to the area, the school concentrated on instruction in textile design.
In 1902 the trustees redefined its mission as a School of Design, with the purpose of providing a “more complete and thorough course of instruction in the fundamental principles of design than had ever been given in this city and to provide also instruction in the practical application of these principles in all branches of decorative art.”
In 1988 the Swain School of Design merged with Southeastern Massachusetts University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and is now part of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.