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  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 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

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]
  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]