About Collecting Rutherford B. Hayes Autographs
Rutherford B. Hayes’ presidency marks a correspondence watershed. He is the last president whose letters are primarily in his hand, and the last whose best communications are ALS's. The letters are about average in number, cover a wide range of topics, and although not containing great content, can be interesting and useful. He most often signed both letters and documents as “R.B. Hayes,” but also used both “Rutherford B. Hayes” and initials.
Hayes was in office when two events fundamental to presidential correspondence occurred. In 1879, a telephone was installed in the White House. Although for a while it was seldom used (as nobody else had one so there was no one to call), in time, the invention would drastically reduce the need to write letters. In 1880, the first typewriter arrived. Although it would be almost a decade before large numbers of typed letters were sent out, thereafter presidents had their letters typed, particularly their longer and more important ones. This fundamentally altered the relationship of presidents with their secretaries.