Marion Skeen Coleman Peck Papers
1920-1985 (Bulk 1943-1965)
Marion Skeen Coleman Peck
Marion Skeen Coleman Peck (1913-1992) was a newspaper reporter for the Chattanooga Times, a caption writer for the Office of War Information, a Public Relations officer in the occupancy government of Germany after World War II, a Public Relations director of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health, and a speech writer for Tennessee governors. The Marion Skeen Coleman Peck Papers include newspaper articles, notes, typescripts, photographs, correspondence, and creative writings. The bulk of the Papers cover Peck’s tenure as a “war correspondent” at the Tennessee Maneuvers (1943), as a Public Relations officer in Germany (1946-1953), and as a reporter for the Chattanooga Times (1953-1965).
12 boxes of paper materials, 5 scrapbook boxes, photographs.
English (bulk), German, French, Arabic
Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, (615) 898-2632
Restrictions on Access
It is presumed that corporate and individual copyrights in manuscripts, photographs, and other materials have been retained by the copyright owners. Copyright restrictions apply. Users of materials should seek necessary permissions from the copyright hold
(Box Number, Folder Number), Collection Name, Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Donated by Laurel Coleman Steinhice, 2010.
Processed by Evan Spencer, graduate assistant, 2015.
The Marion Skeen Coleman Peck Papers are arranged into ten series, with three series containing subseries. Each series or subseries is arranged chronologically. Within folders, the original order of files has been retained for the most part. Processing no
Zula Marion Skeen Coleman Peck was born in 1913 in Little Rock, Arkansas. After moving around the southeast, she finally settled in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and began working to fulfill her dreams of becoming a journalist. As a secretary at the Cadek Music Conservatory, Peck started a weekly news bulletin. The Chattanooga Times quickly hired her to write for the Evening Times society page. Her knack for writing eventually earned her a spot at the front lines of the U.S. Army maneuvers in Louisiana in 1941. She was the first woman to gain such a role and became known for her ability to report the news with feeling and emotion. Her reputation established in the Louisiana maneuvers, the Associated Press Nashville bureau hired Peck as a staff writer and sent her to cover the Tennessee maneuvers in 1943. Her experience at the frontlines gave her the ability to campaign actively for a more fulfilling position overseas. In 1944, Marion S. Coleman boarded a ship to London and her new job at the Office of War Information as a caption writer. She left her home in Nashville for an uncertain future in Europe at the height of World War II. In London, Peck selected and wrote captions on photographs for articles published by the AP. She wrote many of her captions on a variety of photographs depicting Nazi “war atrocities,” including the liberation of concentration camps across Europe. Peck hoped that her position in London would help her pursue a career in political writing. After the war, Peck was determined to remain in Europe. She had a particular interest in working in Berlin, so she applied for a position with the Public Relations department of the Office of Military Government, United States (OMGUS). As the Cold War began, OMGUS served as the American government in Berlin, which was in the middle of the new rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. In an unprecedented job for a woman to hold, Peck earned $9,000 a year, roughly the equivalent of a brigadier general in the military. The job required Peck to interact with German citizens trying to adjust to the aftermath of the war and the following occupation. This experience was eye-opening for Peck, who developed relationships with some of the citizens she interacted with on a daily basis. Peck’s previous experience with writing compassionate newspaper articles enabled her to perform the rigorous and emotional tasks required in her job. In 1953 Peck returned to Tennessee and to the Chattanooga Times. She became a social agency reporter, covering the civil rights movement and court cases with the same style she employed throughout her career. In the 1950s and 1960s Peck’s journalism focused on social movements and injustices. She wrote articles that focused on issues such as prison reform and the plight of handicapped children. In 1962 she wrote an article on the architectural barriers to the handicapped, which earned her a place on the Governor’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped and the President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped. In 1965 Peck became the director of the public relations division for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health. The thread of compassion ran through her life’s work from Tennessee to London and Berlin and back home to Tennessee. In the process, Peck helped her generation of Americans redefine gender roles for women in the workplace. In the 1970s, Peck served as a speechwriter for Tennessee governors Ellington, Dunn, and Blanton. She retired in 1979 and enjoyed the company of her family and grandchildren until her death in 1992.
Scope and Content
The Marion Skeen Coleman Peck Papers are divided into ten series, three of which are further divided into subseries. At the lowest level of arrangement, folders in each series are arranged chronologically. The Early Life series consists of four folders of papers pertaining to Marion Skeen’s childhood and education in Tarpon Springs, Florida (1920-1931). The Office of War Information series consists of four folders of papers pertaining to Marion Coleman’s employment in the OWI’s London office during World War II (1944-1945). The Germany series consists of five subseries and forty-four folders of papers pertaining to Marion Coleman’s employment and daily life in Berlin, Germany after World War II (bulk 1946-1953). The Entertainment subseries consists of eight folders of pamphlets, concert programs, and ticket stubs from Berlin, Germany. The Correspondence subseries consists of ten folders of personal correspondence, employment related correspondence, and invitations. The Personal subseries contains ration cards, financial and tax information, and travel documents. The Newsletters subseries consists of two folders and contains copies of “The Bulletin: A Weekly survey of German affairs” (1960-1965) and newsletters from McNair High School, a Berlin High School that Laurel Coleman (Peck’s daughter) attended. The OMGUS/HICOG subseries consists of sixteen folders pertaining to Marion Coleman’s job as a Public Relations officer in the Office of Military Government, United States (OMGUS) and the United States High Commissioner for Germany (commonly abbreviated to HICOG). OMGUS dissolved in 1949, when the Federal Republic of Germany was established. After this dissolution, many of the functions and activities of OMGUS were assumed by HICOG, which was created by executive order in 1949. Marion Coleman’s role as public relations officer transferred from OMGUS to HICOG, with her duties remaining the same or at least similar. The subseries contains correspondence with German citizens about grievances, memos, press releases, travel authorizations, and other related materials. The Newspaper series consists of three subseries and eighty-six folders pertaining to Marion Coleman Peck’s employment as a newspaper reporter. The Louisiana Maneuvers subseries consists of two folders and contains notes, typescripts, and articles from Coleman’s newspaper coverage of military maneuvers in Louisiana (1941). The Tennessee Maneuvers subseries consists of thirty-two folders and contains notes, typescripts, articles, and supplementary materials—such as the Second Army Ranger School Subject Schedules—that pertain to Coleman’s time as a “war correspondent” for the Chattanooga Times and the Associated Press’s Nashville Bureau (1942-1943). The Chattanooga Times subseries consists of fifty-two folders and contains notes, typescripts, correspondence, articles, and supplementary materials pertaining to Marion Coleman Peck’s employment as a feature columnist and reporter for the Chattanooga Times (1953-1965). The Professional series consists of three subseries and sixteen folders pertaining to Marion Peck’s professions after leaving the Chattanooga Times in 1965. The Mental Health subseries consists of eight folders of notes, memos, typescripts, and correspondence related to Peck’s employment as Public Relations Director for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health (1965-1970s). The Speech Writer subseries consists of six folders of notes, typescripts of speeches, and press releases related to Peck’s employment as a speech writer for several governors of Tennessee (Ellington, Dunn, and Blanton, Ca. 1970-1979). The Awards subseries consists of two folders of awards Peck won for her work. The Chattanooga series consists of thirteen folders of materials related to Peck’s life in Chattanooga, outside of being a reporter for the Chattanooga Times. The papers include newsletters, programs, and files pertaining to the Hixson Pike Fire Department. The Correspondence series consists of thirty-four folders of general correspondence not directly related to her work in other areas. The Writings series consists of thirty-nine folders of typescripts and notes of creative writing, including unpublished manuscripts, poems, short stories, and journals. The Family series consists of eleven folders of information about Marion Peck’s family members. The series includes correspondence, drawings, notes, and clippings. The Publications series consists of seven folders of magazines that Peck collected. Some magazines include articles written by Peck or about Peck. There are several scrapbooks in the collection, which are housed separately from the Papers. The scrapbooks mostly pertain to Marion Peck’s journalism career. Photographs are stored with the other photographic materials at the Albert Gore Research Center and are presently not completely processed. Please consult with the archivist for access.
Coleman, Marion S. (Marion Skeen), 1913-1992, Blanton, Ray, 1930-1996, Dunn, Winfield, 1927-, Ellington, Buford, 1907-1972, Hull, Geo. F. McNeill, Warren A. (Warren Albert), 1903-1998, Steinhice, Laurel Coleman
United States. Office of War Information, Tennessee. Department of Mental Health, Associated Press. Nashville Bureau, Chattanooga Times
Chattanooga, Tennessee, Berlin, Germany, London, England
Military maneuvers, Germany (Territory under Allied occupation, 1945-1955: U.S. Zone). Office of Military Government, Speechwriters Reporters and Reporting (Chattanooga, Tennessee), War Correspondents (Tennessee), War Correspondents (Louisiana)
Letters Notes Speeches Newspaper Clippings Memos Typescripts Photographs Books Scrapbooks
Albert Gore Research Center
P. O. Box 193, 1301 E. Main St.
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37132
University Archives: 615-898-5202
Todd Hall Suite 128
Monday - Friday
9:00AM - 4:00PM
Or by appointment
Monday - Thursday
9:00AM - 4:00PM
By appointment only