Funding of Progressive Education, 1891–1954: A Swedish Case


  • Johan Samuelsson Karlstad University
  • Madeleine Michaëlsson Dalarna University



private upper secondary school, school finance, progressive education, local elite, philanthropy


It is a well-known fact that several of the early progressive schools were privately, not publicly, funded. This has been observed in studies of progressive schools in, for instance, Japan and England. However, more specific analyses of the nature of this financing are rare. The overarching purpose of the article is to analyse and describe the funding of progressive private upper secondary schools (läroverk) through a case study including two schools in Gothenburg and Uppsala in the early 1900s. Using primary material, such as minutes from the annual meetings of shareholders and final accounts, a broader understanding of conditions and motives is accomplished. A combination of donations from local philanthropists, public funding, and student fees funded the schools. Gradually, the importance of philanthropic capital decreased. In addition, it also turned out that the schools were hardly driven by profit motives.

Author Biographies

Johan Samuelsson, Karlstad University

Associate Professor of History

Madeleine Michaëlsson, Dalarna University

Senior Lecturer