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Alfred Kinsey

Alfred Kinsey Photo

Born on 23rd June 1894, in Hoboken, New Jersey, Alfred Charles Kinsey was the eldest son among three children of engineering professor Alfred Seguine Kinsey and his wife, Sarah Kinsey. Alfred grew up in a devout Methodist family and was known to be a rather shy and well-mannered child.

Alfred was a brilliant child from the very beginning and in 1912; he graduated high school as a valedictorian of his class. He worked his way through college and in 1916, graduated magna cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science in biology and psychology from Bowdoin College. In 1920, he earned his doctorate degree in biology from Harvard University.


After leaving Harvard with his doctorate, Alfred was appointed a professor of zoology at the Indiana University in Bloomington. Owing to his keen interest in botany and insects, Alfred soon established himself as an authority on the gall wasp.  Throughout his stay at the university from 1926 to 1929, he kept busy taking field trips all over America with his students collecting gall wasp specimens. His attention to detail in categorizing and numbering his specimens was awe-inspiring and soon he was ready to take his research into the gall wasp a step further.  In 1930 he published his master piece on the subject called The Gall Wasp Genus Cynips: A Study in the Origin of the Species. By this time, Alfred’s focus had turned towards questioning evolution and natural selection.

Sexual Behavior Studies

This however led to his students asking him a question about sex and sexuality. So in the 1930s, Alfred Kinsey agreed to teach a class on marriage. This was because he realized that not much research or fact-finding had been done in this crucial aspect of human lives. Therefore he decided to study sexual behavior of humans based on the principles of scientific research. In 1938, he started his sex studies program and by early 1940s, he successfully gained funding from the National Research Council and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Medical Division for this purpose. In 1947, Alfred Kinsey and his team of research assistants had laid the foundations for the Institute for Sex Research, Inc.

The very next year in 1948, Alfred compiled all his research into his first book; Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. The book contained findings from more than 10,000 candid interviews of men and women about their individual sexual feelings and behavior. The book turned out to be a huge success and quickly sold almost 500,000 copies. The royalties earned from the sale of this book were reinvested into further research on this subject, which in 1953 resulted in the publishing of its sequel called Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. However, the sequel failed to have the same effect on its readers and did not sell as well as its predecessor.

Human sexuality was still considered a taboo topic when Alfred Kinsey started researching it, due to this his work and personality was frequently embroiled in controversy. During the course of his life and research of this tempestuous subject, Alfred found himself the subject of various anti-Communist investigations, a lawsuit by U.S. Customs for collecting and holding erotic photos and numerous instances of loss of funding. Nonetheless, Alfred’s work stood the test of time and his Kinsey’s Institute for Sex Research (now renamed: Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction) is still conducting research on the subject.

Alfred Kinsey died on 25th August 1956 at the age of 62 at Bloomington Hospital in Bloomington, Indiana, due to complications from congestive heart failure. He was survived by his wife, Clara, and their three children.

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