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James Hayes papers

Identifier: Wing-Modern-MS-Hayes

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence with lettering artists around the world; files on clients (chiefly Chicago printers, publishers, and educational institutions, some of whom also commissioned bookplates from Hayes); and files arranged by subject. Mr. Hayes collected bookplates by other artists, the newsletters of calligraphy groups, and many printed pieces by calligraphers. A number of items have been removed to the cataloged Wing collection, including all original calligraphic manuscripts by other artists. (Search for these under the name of the scribe.) Also removed: a few books and prints, a collection of ephemera from Stanbrook Abbey Press, and a collection of World War II posters. (Items in these last categories may be searched by main entry or under Hayes' name as "author," since he is traced in the records as their former owner.)


  • Creation: 1921-1994



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The James Hayes papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The James Hayes papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of James Hayes

Born in Saginaw, Michigan on January 1, 1907, James Hayes came to Chicago in 1926 to attend the School of the Art Institute, where his mentor was Ernst F. Detterer, later Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation at the Newberry Library. Hayes wanted to train as a lettering artist but recalled in later years that his only option was to take the entire course of the Printing Arts Department, which Detterer had established in 1921. From 1932 to 1940 he worked in the display department of Marshall Field & Co., doing some freelance calligraphy on the side. He worked exclusively as a freelance lettering artist from 1940 to 1943; and after returning from military service in 1946, he continued to work as a free-lancer. Major clients included Ryerson Steel, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. (for which he organized a much-admired exhibit on The Roman Letter in 1951-1952), the American College of Hospital Administrators, the Bank Marketing Association, The Newberry Library, and Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital. Hayes lettered diplomas for Kendall College and the Frances W. Parker School for many decades. Hundreds of other clients included airline companies, publishers, churches, colleges and universities, and libraries. After the death of Ernst Detterer in 1947, Hayes directed the Newberry Library's Calligraphy Study Group until it disbanded in 1960. Famous as a designer of calligraphic bookplates, he exchanged plates with collectors around the world. His work was widely exhibited and included in published collections of contemporary calligraphy from the 1950s until his death in 1994. He moved his family to Woodland Park, Colorado in 1971 where he continued to work, largely for Chicago clients. After death his extensive collection of manuscript fragments and books on lettering and paleography went to the University of Colorado, Boulder.


32.5 Linear Feet (50 boxes, 6 oversize boxes, 3 record cases, and 1 tube)


Correspondence, client files, and subject files of Chicago and Colorado calligrapher and lettering artist James Hayes. Also: collections of bookplates, calligraphic newsletters, and printed calligraphic work by other artists.


Papers are organized in the following series which follow Mr. Hayes' own filing system.

Series 1: Biographical, 1921-1994
Boxes 1-4
Series 2: General Correspondence, 1945-1994
Boxes 5-16
Series 3: Client Files, 1930-1993
Boxes 17-24
Series 4: Bookplates, 1931-1994
Boxes 25-27
Series 5: Subject Files, 1948-1990
Boxes 28-42
Series 6: Calligraphy Clubs, 1965-1994
Boxes 43-44
Series 7: The Roman Letter, 1950-1966
Boxes 45-49
Series 8: Oversize materials
Boxes 50-51
Series 9: Calligraphica by other artists, 1905-1994
Boxes 53-54

Collection Stack Location

4a 28 8-9, 4a 29 7


Gift of Nell (Mrs. James) Hayes, September 1995, and of Mr. Brian Hayes, June 1996.

Processed by

Jean Gottlieb, Cynthia Romanowski, Adrian Alexander and Paul F. Gehl, July 1996-February 2004.

Inventory of the James Hayes papers, 1921-1994
Paul F. Gehl
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States