Skip to navigation Skip to content

Frank Luther Mott Collection of American Best Sellers, 1662-1945.


Frank Luther Mott Collection of American Best Sellers, 1662-1945.


Holdings: 280 volumes.


Scope and Contents

The earliest book Mott considered for inclusion was Michael Wigglesworth's The Day of Doom (Cambridge: Samuel Green, 1662), and the latest books were Betty McDonald's The Egg and I (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott), Samuel Shellabarger's Captain from Castille (Boston: Little Brown), and Kathleen Windsor's Forever Amber (New York: Macmillan), all published in 1945.

Mott defined best sellers as books known (or believed) to have had total sales equal to one percent of the population of the continental United States (or the English colonies in the years before the revolution) for the decades they were published. Omitted were Bibles, hymnals, textbooks, almanacs, cookbooks, doctor-books, manuals and reference books.

Mott (1886-1964) was Dean of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism from 1942-1951.

Table Of Contents

All titles are cataloged and available through the University's online catalog and can be browsed under the author heading Frank Luther Mott Collection (University of Missouri–Columbia. Libraries).

Is Referenced By

Golden Multitudes: The Story of Best Sellers in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1947) serves as a guide to the collection, but is also a history of popular literature in America.


In 1965, shortly after Frank Luther Mott’s death, his family presented his personal library to the University. The private papers, manuscripts, and research notes were given to the Western Historical Manuscript Collection (MU). His 2500 volume library on creative writing, poetry, and journalism was absorbed in the Ellis and Journalism Library collections. Kept intact and given to MU Libraries’ Special Collections was the library of American best sellers collected by Mott when he was writing Golden Multitudes: The Story of Best Sellers in the United States. Dr. Mott endeavored to purchase a copy of each book included in the study, preferring a first edition when one could be located.


The University of Missouri Libraries do not hold copyright on most collection materials, and therefore we do not charge usage fees or require permission to publish scanned images. The libraries encourage use of reproductions of Special Collections materials in publications, broadcasts, public displays and on web pages. However, please be aware that the user is responsible for determining copyright status and applying for permission to copyright holders.

Access Rights

Materials do not circulate but are available to users in the Special Collections Reading Room during service hours or by appointment.

Recently Added Items