Widely considered as the most important sex researcher in the history, American biologist Alfred Kinsey wrote two influential books on the nature of human sexuality: “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” and “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female”. Kinsey was also the founder of the Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction (now named after him) at Indiana University.
Early Life and Education:
Born in Hoboken, New Jersey in June 1894, Alfred Kinsey’s father taught engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. Kinsey graduated from Columbia High School, Hoboken, and his father insisted that his son acquired a degree in engineering at Stevens. After two years, Kinsey recognized that engineering was not his passion, so he was transferred to Bowdoin College, Maine to study biology.
Contributions and Achievements:
Kinsey finally graduated with a B.S. in biology and psychology in 1916. After that, he was listed in a doctoral program in zoology at Harvard University and he received his Sc.D. in 1919. Kinsey took a teaching position in the department of zoology at Indiana University where he remained for the remainder of his career.
Kinsey had already become a big name in entomology by the mid-1930s. His research on gall wasps is considered as the pivotal point in the field of entomology. Meanwhile his interest in human sexuality bore fruit when, in 1938, the Indiana University publication, Daily Student, issued an editorial calling for extensive information about and testing for venereal diseases, a serious health problem that had then stormed the nation.
Kinsey requested permission to design a noncredit course on marriage with about hundred enrolled participants, in which several issues pertaining to sexuality were addressed. Soon he gave up his research on gall wasps and concentrated fully on human sexuality. His projects gained funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Research Council in 1942. This established the Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana. He conducted interviews from 5,300 males and 5,940 females on which he based his groundbreaking works.
His publication about male sexuality in 1948 sold over a half million copies. The female version, one the other hand, was printed five years later, received a less warm reception.
Later Life and Death:
The research work of Alfred Kinsey almost ended after the release of “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female”. He had allegedly offended thousands of Americans and the U.S. congress exerted pressure on Dean Rusk, who headed the Rockefeller Foundation, to unilaterally terminate the financial support of the institute.
After failing to raise funding from other means, Kinsey unfortunately gave up his extraordinary efforts that revolutionized sexuality research. The institute, however, survived and is still functioning as an independent organization under Indiana University.
Alfred Kinsey died on August 25, 1956 of a heart ailment and pneumonia. He was 62 years old.