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Donald and Charlotte MacJannet Papers

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 contains film, photographs, correspondence, ledgers, admissions files, student files, scrapbooks, and other materials that reflect their lives, both personal and professional. Their personal papers also include information about their professional endeavors, including information about their camps and schools.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920 -- 1990
  • Creation: 1824 -- 2003


Language of Materials





This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. No documentation is available regarding the intellectual property rights in this collection.

Biographical / Historical

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.


99.75 Linear Feet

2 Volumes

60 Audiovisual Object(s)

729 Digital Object(s)


This collection is organized into nine series: Personal papers; Camp records and correspondence; Schools, Records and correspondence; MacJannet Foundation; Talloires/Priory; Tufts; Photographs and other media; MacJannet Legacy Oral History Interviews and donated items of memory, 2002-2003

Custodial History

This bulk of this collection was sent from Charlotte MacJannet in her home in Geneva, shipped by John H. King, and arrived at Tufts in late 2001.

Processing status

This collection is partially processed.

Processing Information

During a collection survey in 2017, collection documentation found filed with materials was photocopied. Photocopies were left in place in the collection, and originals were removed to the collection documentation file.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States