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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

Biographical Sketch

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.

Arrangement Note

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.

Series Descriptions

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.

Container List


 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


 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
       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


 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


 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


 5 (phase box)     PHOTOGRAPHS [continued]