Donald and Charlotte MacJannet Papers, 1824 -- 2003


Title: Donald and Charlotte MacJannet Papers
Dates: 1824 -- 2003
Bulk Dates: 1920 -- 1990
Creator: MacJannet Blensdorf, Charlotte
Call Number: MS024
Size: 99.75 Cubic Feet, 2 Volumes, 60 Audiovisual Object(s), 729 Digital Object(s)
Language(s): English. French German  
Permanent URL:
    Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University


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.


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


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.

Access and Use

Access Restrictions

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

Use Restrictions

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.

Collection History

Processing Notes

This collection is partially processed.

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.

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.

Subjects and Genre Terms
  • MacJannet, Donald Ross
  • MacJannet, Charlotte Blensdor
  • Foster, Jean MacJannet
  • Foster, Emory
  • MacJannet School (The Elms)
  • MacJannet Camp
  • European Center
  • MacJannet School (Sun Valley) --MacJannet Camp
  • Talloires (France)
  • Students --Schools --World War, 1939-1945
  • St. Cloud (France)
  • University history
  • Teaching and learning
  • Alumni collections

Series Description

  1. Personal papers, 1824 -- 1999

    This series contains the correspondence, papers, family documents, calendars and souvenirs of the MacJannets from 1825 to 1999. The material covers not only the personal events in their lives, but many of the great events of the 20th century, including for example early MacJannet family diaries (1825), letters concerning Charlotte MacJannet's family in Germany after WWII, correspondence concerning prison camps in WWII France and letters about apartheid in the 1970s. Also includes correspondence with such 'notables' as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Indira Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. Also included is family correspondence with members of the MacJannet Clan in the UK, South Africa, Canada and Australia. As part of this series the personal papers of Charlotte Blensdorf MacJannet and Donald MacJannet's sister, Jean Foster, are included. Due to many interests of the MacJannets, some of these papers also touch on such issues as the schools and camp.

  2. Camp records and correspondence, 1924 -- 1996

    This series contains materials relating to the camp at Talloires including camp applications, correspondence about camp with campers, parents, suppliers and others. This material includes the aid to orphans (Entre'Aide) information from after WWII that often describes France and the French situation after the war. Also includes personal correspondence with former campers and counselors.

    The MacJannet Camps on the shores of Lake Annecy, Haute Savoie, France, founded in 1924, were a delightful summer playground for children of all nationalities until the outbreak of war in 1939. During World War II the camp was lent to the American Friends Service Committee and was a refuge for war orphans. The camps reopened in 1946 and sessions were held every summer until the property was sold to Gillette in 1968.

  3. Schools, records and correspondence, 1925 -- 1986

    This series contains the records and correspondence for the various schools founded by Donald MacJannet. This includes the Elms School in St. Cloud, France, the Trocadero School in Paris, France, the MacJannet Riviera school in Cannes, France and the school in Sun Valley, Idaho. Includes some of the materials relating to Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, who attended the school as a young boy. This series is rather sparse due to the fact that many of the school records were destroyed by MacJannet himself at the onset of World War II. Elms School report cards also include some faculty information.

  4. MacJannet Foundation, 1946 -- 1998

    This series contains records and correspondence about and with members of the MacJannet Foundation from 1966 to 1999. Includes information about the start of the foundation, as well as those who have benefited from it.

    These materials were collected by Donald and Charlotte MacJannet during the course of their association with the MacJannet Foundation, they are not the archival records of the Foundation itself.

  5. Talloires/Priory, 1946 -- 1999

    This series contains records and correspondence concerning the Priory at Talloires from its purchase in 1958 to its present incarnation as the Tufts European Center. It includes information about events (Entretiens de Talloires) held there.

  6. Tufts, 1944 -- 1997

    Contains records and correspondence relating to the MacJannets' involvement with Tufts from Donald MacJannet's education there (1916) until the end of their lives. Includes material concerning the handover of the Priory at Talloires, correspondence with Leonard Carmichael, Donald MacJannet's work as fund-raiser in the late 1940s, and the Tufts French Summer School at the Arlington home of the MacJannets.

  7. Photographs and other media, 1880 -- 2000

    The photographs, sound recordings, films, slides and art work of the MacJannets from the late 19th century to the late 20th century. Includes the film "France Rebuilds" Donald MacJannet's film of post-WWII France as well as photos from school and camp trips to such places as North Africa and Mont Blanc. Also includes photos of family and friends.

    Many photographs have been digitized and are availble through the Tufts Digital Library system.

  8. MacJannet Legacy Oral History Interviews and donated items of memory, 1916 -- 2003

    The DCA MacJannet Legacy project created a website using the material and information within the Donald and Charlotte MacJannet, papers collection. As part of the project, oral history interviews with former MacJannet students, campers, scholarship recipients and others were conducted from December 2002 through August 2003 by project coordinator Maura Kenny. These interviews, while not part of the Donald and Charlotte MacJannet, papers are a valuable source of information concerning the matters of the collection

  9. Additional accessions, 1938 -- 2000

View Online Materials

Some of the materials from this collection are available online. Not all materials have necessarily been digitized.