The Rosalie Thorne McKenna Foundation Case Study

July 06, 2022

Rosalie Thorne McKenna (1918-2003) was one of the 20th century’s greatest photographers, producing iconic images of the literary elite of our times. She photographed Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Ezra Pound, Eudora Welty and many other writers and poets, including Dylan Thomas.

In the course of her long career, Rollie McKenna created an archive large enough to fill three rooms. Despite her inherited wealth and stated wish to establish a foundation to preserve her art and provide opportunities for young photographers, her estate plan proved inadequate to carry out her wishes. Two years after her death, her legacy remained neglected and uncataloged in a warehouse outside of Boston.

Daniel W. Jones, Rollie’s lifelong friend and artistic collaborator, was deeply troubled by the situation. Not knowing what to do, Daniel contacted Hemenway & Barnes (H&B) for help. When the H&B team of attorneys, estate administrators and philanthropic and art advisors was introduced to the estate, there had been no progress on the establishment of her foundation. Moreover, Daniel was the only person who knew Miss McKenna well enough to ensure that her vision was carried out — and he was in his mid-80s.

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