Ransom, Will, 1878-1955

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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

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Untide Press. Collection, 1943-1955. Swarthmore College, Peace Collection, SCPC
creatorOf Siberell, Lloyd Emerson, 1905-1968. Papers, 1933-1968. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Colt Press. Colt Press records, 1920-1973. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Cheever, Lawrence Oakley, 1907-1974. Papers of Lawrence Oakley Cheever, 1931-1972. University of Iowa Libraries
creatorOf Macy, George. Limited Editions Club papers, 1929-1940. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Macy, George. George Macy papers, 1916-1970. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Fletcher, Ifan Kyrle, 1905-1969. Ifan Kyrle Fletcherl letters, 1926-1969. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Heller, Elinor Raas. Materials pertaining to the Grabhorn Press bibliography, 1927-1975. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Ransom, Will, 1878-1955. [Letter] 1941 July 25, Norman, Okla. [to] Hester O'Neill Wilson, New York / Will Ransom. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Ransom, Will, 1878-1955. Will Ransom papers, 1883-1954. Newberry Library
referencedIn Rushmore, Arthur W., 1883-1955. Rushmore collection, 1900-1992 (bulk 1927-1955). Free Public Library of the Borough of Madison
creatorOf Hill, Edwin Bliss, 1866-1949. Papers of Edwin Bliss Hill, 1737-1954 (bulk 1895-1948). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Frederick Coykendall papers, 1914-1928. Houghton Library
referencedIn Cleverdon mss. II, 1926-1988 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Art Institute of Chicago. School. corporateBody
associatedWith Brothers of the Book. corporateBody
associatedWith Carson Pirie Scott. corporateBody
associatedWith Cheever, Lawrence Oakley, 1907-1974. person
associatedWith Cleverdon, Douglas. person
associatedWith Colt Press. corporateBody
correspondedWith Coykendall, Frederick, 1872-1954 person
associatedWith Cuala Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. person
associatedWith Fletcher, Ifan Kyrle, 1905-1969. person
associatedWith Forgue, Norman W. person
associatedWith Goudy, Frederic W. (Frederic William), 1865-1947. person
associatedWith Heller, Elinor Raas. person
associatedWith Hill, Edwin Bliss, 1866-1949. person
associatedWith Hunter, Dard, 1883-1966. person
associatedWith Macy, George. person
associatedWith Maverick Press (Woodstock, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith McMurtrie, Douglas C. (Douglas Crawford), 1888-1944. person
associatedWith Nash, John Henry, 1871-1947. person
associatedWith O'Neill, Hester, 1908- person
associatedWith Rogers, Bruce, 1870-1957. person
associatedWith Rollins, Carl Purington, 1880-1960. person
correspondedWith Rushmore, Arthur W., 1883-1955. person
associatedWith Siberell, Lloyd Emerson, 1905-1968. person
associatedWith Untide Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Village Press. corporateBody
associatedWith White, Hervey, 1866-1944. person
associatedWith Yeats, Elizabeth Corbet, 1868-1940. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Great Britain
Private presses
Manuscripts, American


Birth 1878

Death 1955-05-24


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