Printer, designer, and typographer.
As a writer, Will Ransom (1878-1955) was also the first historian/bibliographer of the fine press movement. Born in St. Louis, Michigan and raised in Snohomish, Washington, he early developed enthusiasm for the Arts and Crafts movement, which led him to found his own private press and publish a small number of gift books in limited editions. In 1903 he enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago but left shortly afterwards to collaborate with Frederic and Bertha Goudy at their Village Press. After a year, he gave up printing to work as a bookkeeper. In 1911, he began to freelance as an artist and lettering man, working for commercial clients, music groups, and Lawrence Woodworth's Brothers of the Book. In 1918 he designed the Parsons typeface for one of his major clients, the Carson Pirie Scott department store. In 1921 he re-founded his private press using the imprint, "Will Ransom, Maker of Books." In 1930 he left Chicago to join the Printing House of Leo Hart. In the late 1930s he held several short-term positions and free-lanced again. In 1939 and 1940 he served as executive secretary to the American Institute of Graphic Arts' Gutenberg centennial project and worked briefly for the Limited Editions Club. From 1941 to 1955 he was art director of the University of Oklahoma Press, with the rank of Associate Professor. Ransom wrote extensively about the fine press movement. A series of articles he did for Publisher's Weekly in the 1920s eventually became his Private Presses and Their Books (R. R. Bowker & Co., 1929), a standard reference on the subject for many years, eventually extended by a series of Selective Checklists of Press Books (1945-1950). From 1937 to 1945 he wrote for Bookbinding and Book Production magazine. He also contributed to many bibliophile and technical printing works. Ransom died on May 24, 1955.
From the description of Will Ransom papers, 1883-1954. (Newberry Library). WorldCat record id: 656281623