This photographic history documents Alfred C. Kinsey's landmark sexuality
research project, which he began in 1938. It resulted in Sexual Behavior
in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female
(1953), otherwise known as the famous "Kinsey Reports."
Alfred Kinsey with galls
|Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey
Dr. Kinsey's research during the first 20 years of his career at
Indiana University involved the study of gall wasps. He came to
Indiana University in 1920, after receiving his doctorate in biology
from Harvard University. This picture shows him on a field expedition
sitting with a stack of galls that he and his assistants had cut
off of oak trees. His specialty was taxonomy, the classification
of the species, and the study of individual variation. He carried
this taxonomic approach over to his later research on sexual behavior.
In 1938, Dr. Kinsey began collecting sex histories for a research
project that was prompted by his involvement in teaching a course
called "Marriage and Family." To do his collecting, he traveled
extensively, just as he did earlier while collecting samples of
|The Authors of the Male Volume
Shortly after he started collecting sex histories, Dr. Kinsey sought
out funding for his research expenses. With a grant he received
from the National Research Council, he was able to hire other researchers
to assist him. The first one hired was Clyde Martin, in 1941. In
1943, he hired Wardell Pomeroy. These two researchers shared the
credit with Dr. Kinsey for writing the landmark volume Sexual
Behavior in the Human Male. Martin had a degree in economics;
he handled the early statistical analysis for the team. Pomeroy
was a psychologist by training, with a graduate degree from Indiana
University. The team's diverse background contributed to the success
of the project.
Alfred Kinsey, Clyde Martin,
Alfred Kinsey, Clyde Martin,
Paul Gebhard, Wardell Pomeroy
|Dr. Kinsey and His Research Team
The research team was completed with the arrival of Harvard-trained
anthropologist Paul Gebhard, in 1947. Shortly after Gebhard's arrival,
Dr. Kinsey founded the Institute for Sex Research as a non-profit
corporation with the assistance of Herman B Wells, president of
Indiana University. Until this time, the team worked out of Dr.
Kinsey's office in the Biology Building (now Swain Hall West). The
purpose of the Institute was to complete the long-term research
project that Dr. Kinsey planned. The four men pictured here interviewed
more than 17,000 people between the years 1938-1956. Dr. Kinsey
accounted for one-third of that total. After Dr. Kinsey's death
in 1956, the other three continued to take histories, eventually
bringing the total to more than 18,000 before the project was closed
|Dr. Kinsey Interviewing
Dr. Kinsey believed that face-to-face interviews were the best
way to get honest answers from his respondents. John Bancroft, in
his new introduction to the 1998
reissue of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, commends
Kinsey's "ability to convey a non-judgmental attitude that enabled
his subject to describe any sexual behavior, however stigmatized;
and to convince subjects that their records would remain completely
confidential, a conviction that over the years has remained justified."
According to Wardell Pomeroy, "People were always trying to get
information from us about those who they knew had contributed histories
... All kinds of requests were made, but the answer was invariably
a firm 'No'" (Dr. Kinsey and the Institute for Sex Research,1972).
||Interview Code Sheet
Kinsey developed his interview technique carefully over several
years, eventually coming to rely on a special code which he developed.
The interviewers had to memorize not only Kinsey's code, but also
the 350 questions which were asked, and the placement of the answers
on the sheet. No names were recorded on the sheet -- each respondent
was assigned a number. These code sheets were unreadable without
the key to the code, which was not permitted to exist in written
form. These precautions were all part of Dr. Kinsey's promise of
complete confidentiality to participants in the study.
|The Data Card Sorter
The next step in the process after the interview was to get the
information from the written answer sheet onto data punch cards.
This picture shows Clyde Martin with the Institute's card sorter,
the only data-processing option available to researchers at that
Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
Sexual Behavior in the Human Female
|"The Kinsey Reports"
In 1948, the first volume from the sex research data was published
and quickly became a bestseller. Many people have heard the phrase
"The Kinsey Reports," but few can name the full titles of the volumes.
The nickname was bestowed upon the first volume, Sexual Behavior
in the Human Male and quickly caught on. Five years later,
Sexual Behavior in the Human Female became the second "Kinsey
Report." After Dr. Kinsey's death in 1956, Institute researchers
went on to publish three more volumes from the data. The Male
and Female volumes were translated into many languages
and were sold around the world. They have recently been reprinted
by Indiana University Press.
|Visitor to the Institute
After the publication of the Male volume in 1948, Kinsey
become famous throughout the country, and many well-known people
made the trip to Bloomington to visit the Institute and its director.
Playwright Cornelia Otis Skinner wrote about meeting Dr. Kinsey
in the New Yorker (May 27, 1950). She is featured here
with him in 1952. Other prominent visitors to the Institute included
William Masters, W.H. Auden, Alex Comfort, Albert Ellis, John Gunther,
Emily Mudd, Julian Huxley and Harry Benjamin.
Alfred Kinsey, Cornelia Otis Skinner
University of California - Berkeley
|Dr. Kinsey Lecturing
Dr. Kinsey lectured around the country, often speaking to very
large groups such as this one pictured here at the University of
California - Berkeley in 1949. He usually did not ask for a lecture
fee, preferring instead to collect more sex histories in exchange
for his lectures. He was especially interested in getting the histories
of all the members of certain groups -- an entire fraternity, for
|American Statistical Association
In 1951, Dr. Kinsey presented his research methods and findings
to a three-person committee from the American Statistical Association,
who visited the Institute to review the sampling procedures of the
project. The ASA committee subsequently published a report on its
findings. George Corner was there to represent the National Research
Council, the Institute's funding agency.
(l-r) George Corner, Alfred Kinsey,
Wardell Pomeroy, Clyde Martin, Paul Gebhard
Alfred Kinsey, Herman Wells
|Herman B Wells
In 1990, Institute director June Reinisch wrote, "There would
be no Kinsey Institute without Herman B Wells." Wells became president
of Indiana University in 1937, just a few years before criticisms,
both local and national, started building against Dr. Kinsey and
his work. In his autobiography, President Wells discusses his involvement
in supporting Dr. Kinsey's research. He writes, "...a university
that bows to the wishes of a person, group, or segment of society
is not free..." (Being Lucky, Indiana University Press,
|U.S. Customs Case
A few years after the Institute was founded, it began a legal battle
with U.S. Customs. For several years, Dr. Kinsey had been buying
art and books about sex from abroad, and placing these materials
in the Institute's research collection. In 1950, however, the customs
collector in Indianapolis started to impound the materials, deeming
them "grossly obscene." The Institute sued U.S. Customs, and a seven-year
legal battle ensued. Harriet Pilpel was one of the three lawyers
who defended the Institute and eventually won the case in Federal
District Court in 1957. As a result of this decision, the Institute
for Sex Research was allowed to import sexually explicit materials
for the purpose of making them available to researchers and scholars.
Dr. Kinsey died in August of 1956, a year before the case was settled.
(center) Alfred Kinsey
(back, l-r) Jean Brown, Paul Gebhard,
William Dellenback, Wardell Pomeroy,
Ritchie Davis, Eleanor Roehr, Dorothy Collins
(front, l-r) Cornelia Christenson,
Hedwig Leser, Clyde Martin
|Institute Staff in 1953
The staff grew to twice the original size after the publication
of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Cornelia Christenson
was the author of the first biography
of Dr. Kinsey. Also on staff were a librarian and translator. The
Institute's library and special collections grew along with the
staff, and are now used extensively by researchers from around the
|Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale
One well-known theoretical construct designed by Dr. Kinsey is
the "Heterosexual/ Homosexual Rating Scale," a seven-point continuum
which has been reprinted in numerous publications since its original
appearance in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. In 1990,
Oxford University Press published a volume containing analyses of
this scale called Homosexuality/ Heterosexuality: Concepts of
Sexual Orientation (eds. David P. McWhirter, Stephanie A. Sanders,
and June M. Reinisch). The scale has been widely reprinted in college
textbooks on the subject of human sexuality.
You can read more about the scale here.
The photographer responsible for most of these images is William
Dellenback, who also photographed many of the Institute's art objects.
In addition to his photography work, Dellenback did filming of animal
sex behavior as part of Dr. Kinsey's studies on sexuality in mammals.
He came to the Institute in 1949 after working in his own studio
in New York.
Photo credits: All pictures were taken by the Institute's
staff photographer, William Dellenback, except the photos here entitled
"Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey" (unknown photographer); "Authors of the
Male Volume" (Indiana University's Audio-Visual Center)
and "Dr. Kinsey Lecturing (unknown photographer).
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