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Summer 2003

The MacJannet Legacy

Also see the main Talloires story

There is a welcome breeze off Lake Annecy when members of the MacJannet Foundation gather for an outdoor reception at the Hotel D’Abbaye, Talloires. They have come from as far away as Maine to celebrate the work of Donald MacJannet, A16, H79, and Charlotte Blensdorf MacJannet, H70. Many recall swan dives into the lake back when they were MacJannet campers. Others remember how Donald, legendary for his devotion to thrift and hard work, inspired them to see promise in the near ruins of an 11th-century priory by handing them a shovel.

This evening, they have come to honor a younger generation—21 Tufts students who have received financial aid to attend Tufts in Talloires, the latest crop of MacJannet Scholars.

As foundation member George Halsey greets them, he recalls how Donald “created a special kind of education.” He knew, said Halsey, “When you are amazed—when you are in awe, it brings you to a place that opens up curiosity.”

The scholarships are one way the MacJannet Foundation, established in 1968, continues to preserve the MacJannets’ heritage. Since 1968 the foundation has
supported MacJannet Exchange Scholars between the Fletcher School and the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva.

The foundation’s outreach now also extends to the web. Launched in April,
“The MacJannet Legacy” draws on the vast riches of the Donald and Charlotte MacJannet Papers, acquired by the Digital Collections and Archives in 1999 after
the death of Charlotte (Donald died in 1986). The collection includes extensive papers and personal correspondence, as well as thousands of photographs, several hundred of which were taken by Donald, a talented amateur photographer.

“The site shares stories that have been hidden gems in the collection,” said Tufts project coordinator Maura Kenny, who has made history come alive through audio clips, family letters, and links to an image database, among other features. “The MacJannets believed that if young people from different cultures had an opportunity to meet each other, they could have a profound impact on the world at large.” She sees the website as an important effort to bring their story to the Tufts community and beyond. “There is an implicit value in getting the word out. These are universal themes and the MacJannets themselves were such extraordinary people.”

Foundation president John King, F69, of Geneva, takes a long view of the MacJannet Foundation. “You see these students start to get their bearings here,
and many are simply stunned by the beauty,” he said. “Maybe the real important things won’t become fully appreciated for years ahead. And in a way, that is what the MacJannets wanted. The many aspects of the Talloires experience are so diametrically opposed to the students’ own experience that it’s a very powerful experience—and sometimes it takes a while for it to mature. But no one ever forgets it.”