On Saturday, September 10th, Dr. Elizabeth Zelensky presented “Pavlovsk Park Long Ago and Forever: Scouting as a Factor in 20th Century Russian Self-Identity” as a part of the Russian History Museum’s Second Saturday online lecture series.

What was the relationship between liberalism, scouting, and childhood in Russia? What was the role of the Romanov family in Russian scouting? Did Russia’s scouting organization differ from Robert Baden-Powell’s?

Dr. Elizabeth Zelensky presented on the history of Russian scouting in both late Imperial Russia and among the Russian diaspora from 1920-1991. She related how the founder of Russian scouting, Oleg Pantukhoff, attempted to create an institutional vehicle for “liberal” values such as self-development, initiative, and “ lichnost” (individuality). Dr. Zelensky’s research drew on materials from the Oleg Ivanovich Pantukhoff Archive – which she had access to before 2014 and are now housed within the Alexander Solzhenitsyn House of Russia Abroad Center in Moscow – as well as her personal connection to scouting. Pieces from the Russian History Museum were referenced as a part of this rich scouting tradition.

Scouting holds a special place in our speaker’s family history, as in so many Russian diaspora families. Her connections to this topic spans generations: Zelensky’s father was a Russian scout in Yugoslavia, her mother was a Russian scout in Poland, and she and her sister were scouting members in New Jersey. Her husband was also a scout in Upstate NY, and then their children carried on this tradition in West Virginia. This summer, their grandchildren were “zaichiki” (pre-cubs) and brownies in a Russian scout camp

About the Speaker

Dr. Elizabeth Zelensky is a child of the First Wave emigration. Her father was born in 1921 in Constantinople, and her mother in Poland. Her family moved to the United States after World War Two, where Elizabeth was born in New York City. She has always been fascinated by Russia– her grandparents were the main source of her idealized picture of its culture. This is why Elizabeth decided to study Russian history at university, then teach it.

She received her PhD in History from Georgetown University in 1993 and has instructed courses at George Mason University and Georgetown. She has also experience in combined linguistic and research roles as well as teaching at the United States Department of Justice and the United States State Department. Her scholarly interests focus on the discourse of Westernization in pre-revolutionary Russia, gender, childhood and spirituality.