A narrative poem on death, The Day of Doom, was the first best-seller in America. First printed in 1662, it was a broadside of over 200 doggerel verses on death, doom, and judgment ( Wigglesworth 1118). The pamphlet was literally read to pieces in Puritan New England. No copy of the first edition is known to survive.1
A hundred years later, the best-seller was "The Way to Wealth", a preface to Poor Richard's Almanac by Benjamin Franklin.2 Dollars replaced death in the attention and intentions of an expanding, entrepreneurial nation.
The success orientation of America submerged but did not drown the publication of literature on death and dying. At least an interest in the afterlife continued. Almost five thousand items were in an 1864 publication of "Literature of the Doctrine of a Future Life, a catalogue of works related to the nature, origin and destiny of the soul". ( Travis 2292, 15)3 But the study of death was drowned until World War II. In a 1970 publication, Saffron wrote: "In America thanatology has had until very recent____________________