Skip to main content

Swain School of Design records

Identifier: URC-028

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of the minutes of the Board of Trustees from 1879 to 1988, treasurer’s records, committee records, reports to the board by the school’s directors from 1889-1988, the files of the last Swain directors, a full run of the school’s course catalogs, scrapbooks, gallery notices and some posters dating from 1966 through the early 1980s. Absent are photographs in any great quantity, yearbooks or student work. Of note are the extensive files on the historic New Bedford properties once owned by the school. Series XII is a small collection of photos and clippings from Allen Dale Currier.


  • 1879 - 1998


Conditions Governing Access

No known restrictions

Biographical / Historical

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 Board of 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.


33.3 Linear Feet (86 manuscript boxes, 8 oversize boxes, 1 photo binder, and 1 small flat box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 285 Old Westport Road, North Dartmouth, MA 02747, 508-999-8686,

Immediate Source of Acquisition

transferred from the College of Visual and Performing Arts in 2000. Accession #

Processing Information

Processed by Madhavi Pragada G’05, Mike Pacheco’06 and Judy Farrar. Completed July 2006.

Swain School of Design records
July 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Repository

285 Old Westport Rd.
N. Dartmouth MA 02747 USA