Manuscripts: Schack, Paul A. (Paul Alexander), 1902-1985, collector. Paul A. Schack collection, 1895-1983.
Manuscript Collection 675
Special Collections and University Archives
Rutgers University Libraries
QUANTITY: 4.05 cubic ft. (4 cartons and 1 phase box)
ACCESS: No restrictions.
PROCESSED BY: Dr. Kevin Mulroy
Paul A. Schack, department store executive and local historian, was born to East European parents in South River, New Jersey, in 1902. His father, Alexander Schack, had emigrated to the United States from Russia at the age of 28, in 1895. Alexander became an embroiderer and eventually erected a large embroidery factory on Robert Street in South River. In 1905, he built the Riverside Hotel, which he owned and managed for the remainder of his life. He also acquired a wholesale bottling and distribution establishment in South River and came to be recognized as one of the leading businessmen in the community. Alexander was one of the founding members of the Sts. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church and remained prominent in church affairs until his death, from influenza, in 1919.
Paul Schack's mother, Mary Lukac, was born in Stara Lubovnia, Slovakia, in 1883. She emigrated to the United States in the late 1890s and married Alexander Schack at the turn of the century. The couple became naturalized American citizens and had six children, Amelia, Paul, Mamie, Walter, Sophie and John. Walter W. Schack attended the University of Alabama and Rutgers Law School. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was a recipient of the Purple Heart in 1943. Walter W. Schack served as the mayor of South River from 1954-1959 and was the first person of Russian descent to attain that office.
Paul A. Schack graduated from South River High School in 1921. He attended Lafayette College for one year, then completed his education at Harvard, graduating in the class of 1926. In 1931, he married Helene M. Colenck of Weehawken. Schack worked for a time for the Otis Elevator Company in Weehawken, but when Prohibition ended in 1932 he became involved in the liquor distributing business.
In 1935, Paul A. Schack joined Macy's department store in New York City as a sales clerk in the liquor department and thus began a long and distinguished career with the company. In 1939, he was promoted to head of stock, and later he became the assistant manager of the liquor department. A further promotion in 1944 led to his assuming the duties of manager of the tobacco, cigars and smokers' supplies department. In keeping with Macy's policy at that time of frequent inter-departmental transfers of managerial personnel, Schack served for short periods in the late 1940s and early 1950s as a food buyer, manager of groceries and delicatessen at both Macy's and Bambergers of Newark, New Jersey, and manager of tobacco. In the mid-1950s, he became the manager of Macy's book department and remained in this position until he left the company a decade later. Schack spent the final years of his professional career working for the Kobrand Corporation in New York City.
Paul A. Schack was knowledgeable in the fields of tobacco, food, liquor, publishing and the book industry, and his opinions and advice were actively sought by both friends and experts. He was also something of a connoisseur of fine wines. A football player in his youth, Schack retained his enthusiasm for both amateur and professional sports throughout his lifetime. Despite living in Glen Rock, Bergen County, New Jersey, for much of his life, Schack's first love was for the history and culture of his native South River. He came to be considered as the historian for the area, in part due to his 1970 pamphlet "History of South River." Paul Schack died in 1985 at the age of 83.
Scope and Content Note
The Paul A. Schack collection, Manuscript Collection 675, dates from 1895 to 1983, and is housed in four cartons and one phase box. The collection was acquired in 1983 as a donation from Mr. Schack. It is divided into two series (filing units): a SUBJECT FILE and PHOTOGRAPHS.
The collection is primarily composed of press clippings, historical notes and photographs, but also includes correspondence, reports, certificates, deeds, church records, publications, maps and ephemera. The materials pertain mainly to the economic, social, political and cultural development of the community of South River, New Jersey, from the mid-1890s to the early 1980s. The collection includes documentation on local organizations, businesses, associations and institutions, as well as biographical data on community leaders and prominent individuals and families. In addition, there is documentation of Schack's professional activities during his executive career at Macy's department store in New York City and some material relating to his family, including letters written by his brother Walter W. Schack during World War II while serving in the U.S. Army with the 27th Field Artillery Battalion in North Africa and Italy.
At some stage, Paul A. Schack acquired materials from the R. Van Dyke Reid collection and the James B. Armstrong collection and integrated them into his own collection. Richard Van Dyke Reid (1833-1915) was a native of South River who was graduated from Rutgers College in 1856. He taught school in the area for many years, became principal of the Red Bank public schools from 1864-1871 and was town clerk at Red Bank from 1884-1886. James B. Armstrong was the mayor of South River at the time of the community's 1931 financial audit and the copy of that document included in Schack's SUBJECT FILE was probably Armstrong's personal copy. Most of the materials from the two collections acquired by Schack, however, are photographic prints which are included in the PHOTOGRAPHS series.
The Paul A. Schack Collection is divided into two series, a SUBJECT FILE and PHOTOGRAPHS, which are essentially the divisions in which the documents were arranged by Mr. Schack. When received by Special Collections and University Archives, the collection consisted of five boxes, one bundle and two volumes. With re-boxing, integrating loose materials into the arrangement and removing various items to other locations within the repository, the collection was reduced to its current size.
Schack's SUBJECT FILE employed an alphabetical arrangement, but several folders were out of sequence. Some had simply been misplaced and these were re-filed. A few others, however, had been brought together because of similar characteristics, and their position in the sequence was retained by creating a square-bracketed folder heading, to comply with the alphabetical arrangement, followed by Schack's own heading. Five folders of unlabeled papers, primarily pertaining to Schack's work at Macy's, three envelopes of press clippings, a deck of index cards relating to South River street names, some World War II materials and two scrapbooks were integrated into the SUBJECT FILE for the convenience of the researcher. Where appropriate headings were lacking, square-bracketed headings were created and the folders inserted into the series.
When the collection was received, most of the PHOTOGRAPHS were contained in headed folders in a loose alphabetical arrangement. Those folders out of sequence were re-filed. Square-bracketed headings were provided for unidentified folders in accordance with the scheme employed by Schack in the SUBJECT FILE. A few photographs found scattered in the SUBJECT FILE and several loose photographic prints were inserted into pertinent folders in the PHOTOGRAPHS series for convenience and consistency. Two large photographs, originally contained in a brown envelope, were housed in an oversize phase box.
New Jersey materials acquired with the Paul A. Schack collection that were distributed to other locations within the repository included original single copies of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Trenton, Burlington and New Brunswick newspapers; two account books, 1872-1899, of James K. Peterson of South River; the minutes, 1894-1901, of the Sayreville Township Board of Education; a copy of the 1896 Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of the Third Congressional District of New Jersey; and several printed maps of the area. Also received with the Paul A. Schack collection and filed in relevant locations within the repository were original single copies of nineteenth-century New York, Philadelphia, Washington City and Quincy, Florida, newspapers; nine single issue facsimile newspapers, 1858-1865, of Civil War events; and an unabridged dictionary.
SUBJECT FILE, 1897-1983. (3.1 cubic ft.)
Arranged alphabetically by folder heading.
Documentation of the history of South River, New Jersey, and biographical data on individuals associated with the community. The materials pertain to churches, schools, businesses, South River politics, leaders in the community, and local organizations, associations and institutions. Included in the materials are press clippings, historical notes, correspondence, reports, certificates, deeds, church records, maps, publications and ephemera. Among the documents in this series are a list of subscribers to the Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church in South River, dated 1905 and described as the oldest document pertaining to the church; several deeds for land transferred in the South River area between 1897 and 1915; a ribbon copy of a financial audit of the South River municipality conducted in 1931, together with related documentation; and letters, 1941-1944, received by Schack during World War II from his brother Walter, a G.I. and future mayor of South River.
PHOTOGRAPHS, 1895-1983 and undated. (.95 cubic ft., including 1 phase box)
Arranged alphabetically by folder heading.
Primarily black-and-white photographic prints of South River views, street scenes, buildings, individuals and groups, together with a few negatives, some color prints and photocopies of a number of black-and-white prints not present as originals. Some of the photographs are dated and described, while others are unidentified. The photographs depict South River churches, institutions, businesses, organizations, landmarks and homes, local school groups, athletic teams and families, and leading individuals in the community. One photographic print shows the first trolley car to reach South River from New Brunswick in 1895; another depicts groups of voters gathered on Ferry Street on election day 1898; and two others show the laying of the cornerstone of Borough Hall in 1908. Several photographs document the presence of World War I aircraft in South River. Other photographs in this series depict a Russian float taking part in the Fourth of July 1918 parade; a victim of the 1918 influenza epidemic being conveyed to the cemetery in a beer wagon (due to the shortage of hearses); and lines of customers awaiting cigarette rations at Macy's department store in New York City during World War II.
BOX FOLDER CONTENTS 1 SUBJECT FILE 1 Athletic Fields 2 Athletics: Baseball 3 Athletics: Basketball 4 Athletics: Football 5 Athletics: Football, Bill Denny Chapter 6 Athletics: Football, First Undefeated Team 7 Athletics: Football Pioneers 8 Athletics: Football, South River Greats 9 Athletics: Football, S.R.H.S. 10 Athletics: Golf 11 Athletics: Miscellaneous 12 Athletics: Track 13 Bank: First Charter 14 Bank: Mid State Bank and Trust Co. 15 Barber Stories 16 Bicentennial 17 Biography: Appleby 18 Biography: Applegate, Amelia Schack 19 Biography: Fitzpatrick 20-21 Biography: General 22 Biography: Mark, Jos. 23 Biography: Pearson, Drew 24 Biography: Pritchard, Clarence 25 Biography: Reid (R. Van Dyke) 26 Biography: Riis, Jacob 27-30 Biography: Schack, Paul A. 31-32 Biography: Schack Family 33 Biography: Theismann 34 Biography: Willett 35 Biography: Wotciehowcz 36 Black Hawk War 37 Board of Health 38 Board of Public Works 39 Bridges 40 Building and Loan Association 41 Buildings 42 Burial Grounds 43 Business 44 Canals
BOX FOLDER CONTENTS 2 SUBJECT FILE [continued] 1 Celebration: 200th Anniversary (1920) 2-3 Celebration: 250th Anniversary (1970) 4 Celebration: 300th Anniversary (2020) 5 Celebrations: Miscellaneous 6 Census 7 Church: Baptist 8 Church: Byelorussian 9 Church: Corpus Christi 10 Church: Episcopal 11 Church: German Presbyterian 12 Church: God's Last Call Revival Church 13 Church: Hungarian Reformed 14 Church: Methodist 15 Church: Old School Baptist 16 Church: Polish Old Catholic 17 Church: Russian Baptist 18 Church: St. Euphrosyria--White Russian 19 Church: St. Mary's 20 Church: Sts. Peter and Paul--Correspondence, Alexander Pavlowski 21-22 Church: Sts. Peter and Paul--Russian 23 Church: St. Stephen's--Hungarian 24 [Church]: Temple, Jewish 25 Church: Union Baptist 26 Churches: South River--General 27 Civil War 28 Customs 29 Deeds 30 Depression of 1930s 31 Disasters 32 Down the River 33 Earthquake 34 East Brunswick 35 Education: Board of Education 36 Education: Church Schools 37 Education: High School 38 Education: Miscellaneous 39 Education: Schools 40 Education: Teachers 41 Energy Crisis 42 Ethnic Groups 43 Events 44 Fire Department 45 Fires 46 Garbage and Landfills 47 Geology of South River 48-49 Government 50 History: General 51 Homes 52 Homes and Public Buildings 53 Indians 54 Industry 55 Italy: After World War II 56 Korean War 57 Library 58 Maps: South River 59 Mayor Walter W. Schack, 1954-1959 60 Mayors
BOX FOLDER CONTENTS 3 SUBJECT FILE [continued] 1 Mexican War 2 Monmouth County 3 Murders 4 New Brunswick History 5-6 Newspaper Clips 7 Newspaper Column: South River 8 Old Bridge 9 Organizations: Miscellaneous 10 Organizations: Musical 11 Organizations of Veterans 12 Parks 13 Perth Amboy 14 Police: Law Enforcement 15 Politics 16 Population 17 Post Office 18 Prohibition 19 Publications 20 Race Track 21 Railroads 22 Real Estate Developments 23 Recreation 24 Rescue Squad 25 Research on South River History 26 Revolutionary War 27 Riots 28 River 29 Roads 30 Sayreville, N.J. 31 Selover Articles 32 Senior Citizens 33 Shade Tree Commission 34-35 South River: Early History 36 [South River Audit, 1931] 37 [South River History: 1930s] 38 South River History: Barkelew Burial Plot 39 South River History Correspondence 40 South River History Projects 41 Spanish-American War 42 Streets of South River 43 Strikes 44 Taverns 45 Taxes 46 Telephone and Radio 47 Theater 48 Transportation 49 Travel 50 Urban Renewal 51 Utilities 52 Vietnam War 53 War of 1812 54 Weather 55 World War I 56-58 World War II
BOX FOLDER CONTENTS 4 SUBJECT FILE [continued] 1-2 [Scrapbooks: South River History] (4) PHOTOGRAPHS 3 [Athletic Fields] 4-6 Athletic Teams 7 [Brasno Midgets] 8 [Bridges] 9 [Buildings] 10 [Burial Grounds] 11 [Celebrations] 12-13 Churches 14 Clubs 15 [Disasters] 16-17 Fire Department 18 Fires 19-20 Groups: School Classes 21 Homes 22 Individuals 23 Industry 24 Inns and Hotels 25 [Italy-In-Macy's, 1951] 26 Police 27 [Railroad] 28 [Rescue Squad] 29 [Sayreville, N.J.] 30-31 [Schack, Walter W.] 32-35 Schack Family Photographs 36 Schools 37 [South River Stores and Businesses] 38-39 Street Scenes 40 Styles in Years Past 41 Transportation 42 [Unidentified individuals] 43 Views of South River 44 [Weather] 45-46 World Wars
BOX FOLDER CONTENTS 5 (phase box) PHOTOGRAPHS [continued] [Groups]