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Margaret "Peggy" Coleman

The same year Margaret "Peggy" Coleman graduated from Smith College with a BA in Russian, the future RACC director traveled to the Soviet Union for the first time. It was during this extraordinary visit in 1961 that she bonded with a nation and culture that she has returned to a dozen times - as a student, teacher of Russian, tour guide, independent scholar, and conference participant.


After earning a Master's Degree from Columbia University's Teachers College, Peggy taught at the Northfield School for Girls where she established a Russian language and culture program. It should be no surprise that Peggy's roots are in teaching - a field requiring great stores of patience, social and intellectual intelligence, as well as a creative, innovative spirit.

In addition to a BA in Russian and a Master's Degree from Columbia University's Teachers College, Peggy has certificates from several Russian language institutes: Indiana University and Soviet Union, National Defense Education Act (1961, 1966); Boston University's Summer Russian Language Immersion Institute, 1986.

But the pinnacle of Coleman's relationship with Russian culture was the creation of the Russian American Cultural Center (RACC) in 1992. The Center was originally located on Boston's historic Russia wharf but has since relocated to 78 Tyler Street in Chinatown.

Prior to founding the RACC, Peggy was active in a number of capacities linking Russian and American history and culture. At Gloucester's Beauport Museum and The Manchester Historical Society she was a docent of the decorative arts and conducted independent research at Salem's Peabody Museum where she interpreted its Russian trade collection. Peggy was a faculty member of the Elderhostel Program at Beverly's Endicott College where she taught a program entitled "Getting Beyond Nyet". In addition, she was program organizer and English language facilitator for The Russian Aid Society in Salem, MA.

Currently, Peggy is doing private research on a number of important American historical figures who lived in 18-19th century Russia. This material has been surprisingly overlooked by scholars and is ripe for dissertation topics, as Peggy likes to tell people. Her research has led her to archives that were once closed to the Russian public, let alone the eyes of an American. It is a testament to her character and doggedness that she has been permitted to examine the Government Central Archives, Naval Archives and the Saltykov-Schedrin Library of St. Petersburg.

In addition to her role as director of the RACC, Peggy has delivered numerous lectures and interviews on various aspects of Russian history, in particular early Russian naval history. Her articles have appeared in many newspapers and journals including Novoye Russkoye Slova, The Boston Globe, Manchester Cricket, Sea History Magazine, The New England Journal of History and a book published by the Government Shipbuilding University of St. Petersburg on Peter the Great and the founding of the Russian Navy.

The mother of one daughter and married to McAlister Coleman, a sculpter, Coleman is active in her community.