When Typewriter Rentals Were Banned

This Royal typewriter is on display at the Hoover Museum, it is typical of what Herbert Hoover would have used while living in the Waldorf-Astoria.
This Royal typewriter is on display at the Hoover Museum, it is typical of what Herbert Hoover would have used while living in the Waldorf-Astoria.

By Thomas F. Schwartz

As the manuscript collections clearly document, Herbert Hoover was a compulsive writer.   Typically, drafts were typed, edited, amended, and retyped ad nauseam before Hoover was satisfied with the final product.  Imagine the chaos created when the Office of Price Administration announced a ban August 26, 1942 on “the rental of new typewriters and used non-portable machines manufactured since January 1, 1935,” ordering their return by September 15.  Wartime necessity required the typewriters use by the Army, Navy and other government agencies.

Hugo Meier, financial manager for Herbert Hoover, wrote to Bernice Miller who oversaw a number of secretaries operating out of the Waldorf Astoria Suite 31-A for the Hoovers, apprising her of the situation.  He wrote:

“I got in touch with J.E. Albright & Company and they confirm that the three Royal machines now at the Waldorf will need to be returned to them by September 15th, under this order.

At this office, we have three machines—the Royal that I use and which Miss Richardson used while I was on vacation; the extra-large type Royal that you don’t particularly like; and an Underwood bought in 1940, new.  I can use either the Underwood or the extra-large type machine, and let you have at the Waldorf my Royal and whichever of the two other machines you prefer. This, however, will give you only two machines at 31-A, and I just wonder if you have any machines available at Stanford and would wish to have one, or two, sent on to the Waldorf, depending on how many machines you figure you will need after Mrs. Hoover gets here.

I don’t think the rented machines built prior to 1935 would be very satisfactory, and even these are subject to a maximum three-month rental.”

Meier added a postscript, “The ARA [American Relief Administration offices that Hoover oversaw] have no available machines.”  It is unclear how the typewriter void was resolved. As Meier’s letter indicates, the Hoovers did their part for the war effort in returning the much-needed typewriters.

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