Founder's Day

Founder's Day

February 3, 2022

This February, we will hold our annual virtual celebration of the School's visionary founder, Pauline Agassiz Shaw. We'll share the history, stories, and images of over 140 years at America's first trade school, while celebrating the individual stories of our community of makers, builders, and craftspeople.

Tune in to the conversation across social media in the weeks ahead. You can participate directly by sharing stories and images of who or what inspires your #lifeincraft on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Tag us @nbssboston and we might repost your share! Scroll down to view some of the heartfelt memories and craft origin stories shared during last year's celebration.

Learn more about Pauline, the history of NBSS, and all the ways you can join the conversation below.

Founder's Day, Part I: A Short History of Pauline Agassiz Shaw

Learn more about Pauline Agassiz Shaw, the Swiss-born daughter of a Harvard University naturalist and stepdaughter of the founding president of Radcliffe College. Discover how her intellectually rich upbringing, but limited financial means, infused within her a respect for learning, and how she became a social and educational pioneer, championing such efforts as public kindergartens, day nurseries, voting rights, and manual arts training for men, women, and children of all backgrounds.

Part one of a four-part series on the origins of North Bennet Street School.

Founder's Day, Part II: Sloyd & Training The Whole Person

From the beginning, North Bennet Street School was a pioneer in advocating the value of hand skills training to society. The manual arts training movement known in Sweden as Educational Sloyd (slojd means 'craft' or 'manual skill') was brought to this country in large part through the efforts of our founder, Pauline Agassiz Shaw.

Part two of a four-part series on the origins of North Bennet Street School.

Founder's Day, Part III: Growth and Experimentation

With the Sloyd educational philosophy fully integrated into North Bennet Street Industrial School's offerings by the close of the 19th century, Pauline Agassiz Shaw's vision of "an institution for training in industrial occupations persons of all ages" grew quickly. Learn more about the growth of the School's wide array of pre-vocational programs, social clubs, and training for veterans and immigrants from 1900-1940.

Part three of a four-part series on the origins of North Bennet Street School.

Founder's Day, Part IV: A New Era, Rooted in History

The School's experimental tradition continued leading up to WWII and for decades beyond. A range of new NBSIS initiatives served divergent groups—children and adults, men and women, civilians and veterans—each reflecting the changing needs of local residents and the broader society.

Part four of a four-part series on the origins of North Bennet Street School.

Get Inspired

Born on February 6, 1841, Pauline Agassiz Shaw was a pioneering philanthropist, educator, and social reformer who significantly impacted not only our community, but also the history of Boston and the nation. Her many accomplishments include opening the country's first kindergartens, funding the suffragette movement, and developing settlement houses to help immigrants adjust to their new country. In addition, she founded America's first trade school, whose mission lives on today through our unique training, programs, and community at NBSS.

Questions about Founder's Day? Contact or 617.227.0155 *172.

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