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.
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.
|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.|
|13||Bank: First Charter|
|14||Bank: Mid State Bank and Trust Co.|
|18||Biography: Applegate, Amelia Schack|
|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|
|36||Black Hawk War|
|37||Board of Health|
|38||Board of Public Works|
|40||Building and Loan Association|
|2||SUBJECT FILE [continued]|
|1||Celebration: 200th Anniversary (1920)|
|2-3||Celebration: 250th Anniversary (1970)|
|4||Celebration: 300th Anniversary (2020)|
|9||Church: Corpus Christi|
|11||Church: German Presbyterian|
|12||Church: God's Last Call Revival Church|
|13||Church: Hungarian Reformed|
|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|
|30||Depression of 1930s|
|32||Down the River|
|35||Education: Board of Education|
|36||Education: Church Schools|
|37||Education: High School|
|46||Garbage and Landfills|
|47||Geology of South River|
|52||Homes and Public Buildings|
|55||Italy: After World War II|
|58||Maps: South River|
|59||Mayor Walter W. Schack, 1954-1959|
|3||SUBJECT FILE [continued]|
|4||New Brunswick History|
|7||Newspaper Column: South River|
|11||Organizations of Veterans|
|14||Police: Law Enforcement|
|22||Real Estate Developments|
|25||Research on South River History|
|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|
|42||Streets of South River|
|46||Telephone and Radio|
|53||War of 1812|
|55||World War I|
|56-58||World War II|
|4||SUBJECT FILE [continued]|
|1-2||[Scrapbooks: South River History]|
|19-20||Groups: School Classes|
|24||Inns and Hotels|
|30-31||[Schack, Walter W.]|
|32-35||Schack Family Photographs|
|37||[South River Stores and Businesses]|
|40||Styles in Years Past|
|43||Views of South River|
|5 (phase box)||PHOTOGRAPHS [continued]|