10 Erford Rd, Lemoyne, PA 17043, United States
In 1924, Randall attended Harrisburg Academy.
27 Memorial Dr W, Bethlehem, PA 18015, United States
In 1928, Randall received a Bachelor of Arts from Lehigh University.
Randall attended Harrisburg Academy, and graduated cum laude in 1924. The same year he enrolled in Lehigh University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1928. Randall studied English at Lehigh University, where he also developed a strong interest in rare books while working in the university’s library as an assistant to Dr. Robert Metcalf Smith, a professor of English.
Upon graduation from Lehigh, Randall turned down a Rhodes scholarship and opted to study law at Harvard. At Harvard, he discovered that his interest in law, had it existed previously, had waned and he spent his time devouring literature instead of studying law textbooks. He also audited a popular course taught by George Parker Winship called “History of the Printed Book.”
David A. Randall began his career as a dealer of rare books in 1929, made a name for himself in the field in a relatively short time, and continued working in the trade until 1956 when he became head of the Lilly Library, the rare-book library at Indiana University. In January 1929, Randall began working for E. Byrne Hackett at New York’s Brick Row Book Shop. Thus Randall was thrust into the rare-book business at the highest level: he was introduced to the great collectors, dealers, and rare-book librarians of that exciting era.
Unfortunately for Randall and rare-book dealers, the Great Depression set in and collectors no longer had the financial resources to purchase rare books. Hackett could not afford to keep Randall on staff and other book businesses were scaling back their staff as well, making a position in the business impossible to find.
Randall gathered his resources, his scant knowledge of the trade, the acquaintances he had cultivated, and his book intuition, and established his own business as a book scout. He scoured New York’s second-hand bookstores, buying books that he could turn over for a considerable profit to dealers. While he was successful, Randall knew that he would not be able to earn enough money as a self-employed book scout to support a family. He expressed his employment concerns to the owner of G. A. Baker and Company, Max Harzof, who promptly offered him a less riskier job in his book shop. Though he wouldn’t earn much more than he had as a book scout, Randall accepted, and immediately began work on various cataloging and appraising assignments. To supplement his income, he began writing book reviews and articles on bibliography and book collecting. He also took advantage of the opportunities before him and issued his first two catalogs while working for Harzof.
On recommendation from John W. Carter, head of Scribner’s London Office, in 1935 Randall began working at Charles Scribner’s Sons’ bookstore as manager of the rare-book department, a position he would hold for the next twenty years. One of Randall’s projects at Scribner’s was to handle high-quality first editions and manuscripts that would appeal to younger collectors.
The same year he began employment at the bookstore, Randall issued his first catalog for the Scribner series, number 102, “Familiar Quotations: A Collection of Their Earliest Appearances.” During this time he, with the confidence he gained as a writer while at Harzof’s, became heavily involved in the book-collecting field as a writer and editor. His projects included working as the American editor of Bibliographical Notes and Queries, 1935-39; co-conductor of the “Bibliographical Notes” department of the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 1940-41; editor of “Bibliographical Notes” for The Baker Street Journal, 1946-48; contributing editor of The New Colophon, 1948-50. He continued to review books for Publishers’ Weekly; collaborated with John T. Winterich on a series called “One Hundred Good Novels”; and assisted Winterich in revisions of A Primer of Book-Collecting in 1946 and again in 1966.
Randall met Lilly Houghton in 1932 when Harzof sent him to Indianapolis to sell books to Houghton, a well- known dealer. Randall and Lilly operated within the same circles and maintained a loose association for the next 20 years. In 1954 Lilly asked Randall to become curator of the collection Lilly was donating to Indiana University. Randall agreed, and, in 1956, became rare-book librarian and professor of bibliography at Indiana University in Bloomington. On June 4, 1960, the Lilly library opened its doors to the public.
Randall was a member of the Bibliographical Society of America, the Grolier Club, the University Club of New York, the Caxton Club of Chicago, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Beta Kappa.
On July 12, 1929, David A. Randall married Margaret Rauch, but they divorced in 1955. On November 23, 1956, he married Mary “Polly” Altmiller.
Randall had two children - Bruce Emerson and Ronald Rauch.