History of LCS

Founded in 1958 by Richard Dorsay, LCS consisted of a group of students who would make regular visits to Metropolitan State Hospital in Waltham. During the 1960s, LCS prospered with over 1,000 volunteers, and it was featured on the cover of Life magazine. In the 1970s, membership dwindled to 15 members. LCS began to regain popularity in the 1980s and even more so in the 1990s. Today, LCS has expanded its programs and opportunities to a point never before seen in its history. With a volunteer corps of over 1000 and a staff of 85, LCS serves as an umbrella organization for over 25 different programs. LCS’s programs, resources, and leadership capacity have become widely recognized within the Tufts community as well as with the hundreds of community organizations, agencies, and people with whom we work.

Before the Leonard Carmichael Society
Prior to the founding of the Leonard Carmichael Society, other Tufts students also contributed to volunteerism and service on the Tufts campus. Gerald Scoones, a member of the Class of 1959, started one such initiative by bringing children from the local mental hospital to his fraternity’s Christmas party in 1955. After the Christmas party, he continued to involve other students and influence the lives of children who were otherwise forgotten by bringing them back onto campus for various events. Mr. Scoones, along with others like him, no doubt contributed to the growth of the popularity of service work on campus that led to the formation of the Leonard Carmichael Society in 1958.

Our First Programs

LCS’ first service activity in 1959 was to bring children from the Metropolitan State Hospital to the Tufts campus to visit and watch football games. In the following years, LCS organized its first annual blood drive, initiated a tutoring program, and hosted our first Kids’ Day. Though our list of service opportunities have expanded considerably since our founding, the continued success of these programs demonstrates Tufts students’ longstanding dedication to direct service and active citizenship.

LCS Kids’ Day, 1983

An LCS tutor works with a student, ca. 1970

About Leonard Carmichael

It has been said of Dr. Carmichael that his “knowledge and experience seemed to encompass every field of human attainment.” His desire to satisfy all of his various interests, to take on new and sometimes unusual opportunities, to learn from each encounter he had and to work towards a better tomorrow has lived on as part of the mission of the society which bears his name. Just as Dr. Carmichael was an author, a psychologist, educator, a museum director, and a university president, volunteers within the Leonard Carmichael Society can serve as advisors, cooks, teachers, construction workers, and mentors. The legacy that this elegant, wise and kind man built throughout his 75 years grows and expands every time Tufts students, faculty members, and staff members join LCS in the belief that they too can change the world.

Born in 1898, Leonard Carmichael lived a life full of diverse career experiences, impressive accomplishments, and national honors. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Tufts (’20) and his doctorate from Harvard four years later. He served as a faculty member at Princeton, Clark, and Harvard before becoming a full professor at Brown in 1926. During his work as an educator and a psychologist, he was among the first scientists to study and catalogue the earliest development of children. He published one of his many books (Manual of Child Psychology) on this topic, and it instantly became a classic.

Perhaps the accomplishment of Dr. Carmichael’s that we as Jumbos are most proud of is the time he spent as President of Tufts. During his 14 years here, the Medford campus saw the addition of the Bookstore, Carmichael Hall and Jackson Gym and the beginning of work on Cohen Auditorium and Alumnae Hall. The student population grew in number and diversity as well: during the 1939-40 academic year, 80% of Tufts students came from within 50 miles of the Medford campus. In 1945, every state was represented.

His time as president of our distinguished university marked only the beginning of Dr. Carmichael’s career in the national spotlight. He resigned from his post at Tufts in 1952 to become the chief executive of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. During his 11 years there, the Institute recorded its largest growth spurt than ever before with the creation of the Museum of History and Technology and the addition of two new wings on to the Museum of Natural History. In 1964, Carmichael combined all his various areas of expertise in to his position as the Vice-President for Research and Exploration at the National Geographic Society. While he was there, the Society took part in exciting and ground-breaking projects such as the study of our species’ recent history in conjunction with the Leakeys in East Africa, as well as Jane van Lawick-Goodall’s work on the behavior of primates. Rumored to be the honor of which he was most proud, Leonard Carmichael was named President of the American Philosophical Society in 1970. Following in the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, Carmichael served three years at this post, resigning a few months before his death in September of 1973.

Leave a Reply