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MacJannet, Donald Ross

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1894 -- 1986 - 1986

Biography

Abstract:

Donald Ross MacJannet (1894-1986), A1916, H1933, H1979, was a benefactor of Tufts University and an educator who established his own international schools and camps. His greatest gift to the Tufts was the property in Talloires, France which the university uses as the European Center.

Donald Ross MacJannet (1894-1986), A1916, H1933, H1979, was a benefactor of Tufts University and an educator who established his own international schools and camps. His greatest gift to the Tufts was the property in Talloires, France which the university uses as the European Center.

A descendent of Peregrine White, the baby born on the Mayflower, MacJannet was orphaned at an early age and raised, along with his sister, in the home of a Medford, Massachusetts widow. In 1912, he graduated as valedictorian of Medford High School and entered Tufts College on a partial scholarship. He earned a B.A. in French literature in 1916. He then attended the Sorbonne in France. During World War I he trained as a pilot.

In 1925, MacJannet founded a school in Paris, known as the Trocadero School. He then opened a second school in St. Cloud, called the Elms School, where students of all nationalities were educated, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, among them. He also acquired some land near Lake Annency the following year. There he started two camps, one for girls and the other for boys, which attracted an international clientele, spreading his reputation as an educator throughout the world. Some of his notable campers include Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India, and Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.

In 1932, MacJannet was elected to the Legion of Honor. This was also the year he met a young German woman named Charlotte Blensdorf (1901-1999), a teacher of the Dalcroze method, at an educational conference in Nice, France. They married November 5, 1932 in the Marylebone Town Hall in London. The MacJannet schools operated for seventeen years, closing in the early 1940s. The camps continued until 1964, with a brief hiatus during World War II. During the war, the MacJannets returned to the United States, operating a school and camp in Idaho and helping with the war effort in Washington, D.C. In 1944, they established the Vacation School of French with Tufts College. Located in Arlington, MA, the purpose of the summer school was to educate people in French language and culture so that they might take up rehabilitation work in post-war France.

In 1944, Tufts president Leonard Carmichael called on the MacJannets to help consolidate the college's dental and medical schools on the new Harrison Avenue, Boston campus. As soon as they were able, the MacJannets returned to France to resume their camps' normal operations. This work also involved aid to French orphans, children who were the camp's first attendees after the war.

The MacJannets purchased an eleventh century Benedictine priory in Talloires, France in 1958. MacJannet restored the building for use as an educational facility, using it for twenty years as a center to house educational and cultural events, drawing people from around the world. In 1979, the MacJannets turned the property over to Tufts University, which established its European campus and conference center on the premises. The MacJannets split their time thereafter between Talloires and their home in Geneva.

Donald MacJannet died on April 4, 1986 in Geneva, Switzerland. Charlotte Blensdorf MacJannet continued the work they had begun together until her death in 1999.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Donald and Charlotte MacJannet Papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS024
Scope and Contents The collection contains the correspondence and papers of Donald and Charlotte MacJannet covering their lives from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th century. Their lives were touched by the major events of the 20th century and their papers reflect the world around them. Personal papers and records of the camps and schools they founded in Europe and America are included, as well as material relating to the Priory at Talloires and Tufts College/Tufts University. This collection...
Dates: Majority of material found within 1920 -- 1990; 1824 -- 2003