Learn our history

On April 8, 1947, Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his research team incorporated as the Institute for Sex Research. ISR had two primary goals: to continue the team's research on human sexual behavior; and to administer research resources, including research materials, a library, case histories, and other related materials. 

In 1981, 25 years after Dr. Kinsey's death, the Institute for Sex Research was renamed The Kinsey Institute for Sex Research.  In 2016, the name was shortened to Kinsey Institute, Indiana University.

75th Anniversary Historical Review

An overview of the history of the Kinsey Institute and sex research at Indiana University.

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Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey

Dr. Alfred Charles Kinsey was an American biologist, professor of entomology and zoology, and sexologist. Known as the father of the sexual revolution, Dr. Kinsey's work has influenced social and cultural values in the United States and around the world.

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The Kinsey era

Dr. Kinsey was at the helm of the Institute for Sex Research from its incorporation on April 8, 1947 until his death on August 25, 1956. In that time: the Kinsey Reports entered the public consciousness (1948 and 1953); ISR moved from Swain Hall East to Wylie Hall and then Jordan Hall; and Dr. Kinsey took 7,985 of the approximately 18,000 sex histories gathered by the research team.

After Kinsey's death in 1956, direction of the institute was split between Dr. Paul Gebhard as executive director and Dr. Wardell Pomeroy as director of field research.

Past Directors + Major Milestones

Since 1957, the Kinsey Institute has had eight directors—each bringing new focus and vision to the study of sexuality, relationships, gender, reproduction, and love.

Dr. Paul Gebhard, 1956–82

Dr. Paul Gebhard, a Harvard trained anthropologist who joined the team in 1947, took over as executive director after Kinsey's untimely death. The ISR faced several difficulties at the time, including a protracted and expensive legal battle with U.S. Customs, the need to find new sources of funding, and several incomplete projects. Over the next 25 years, Gebhard succeeded in opening the institute's doors to scholars around the world, making it a leading resource center for those interested in all facets of human sexuality.


  • The Customs Case: U.S. v. 31 Photographs settled in ISR's favor, granting an exception to laws banning the import of erotic and pornographic material. The case helped establish the legal support for academic and intellectual freedom for researchers and scholars of human sexuality.
  • Funded: ISR receives first grant from the National Institute of Mental Health


  • Published: Pregnancy, Birth, and Abortion (Harper/Hoeber)


  • Published: Sex Offenders: An Analysis of Types (Harper/Hoeber)


  • Established: Information Services Department begins providing reference and referral information


  • Published: Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (Simon & Schuster)


  • Renamed: The Institute for Sex Research becomes The Kinsey Institute for Sex Research at a conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of Dr. Kinsey's death.

See Staff Publications for the list of articles, books, and book chapters published during the Gebhard era.

Dr. June Reinisch, 1982–93

Dr. June Reinisch, a psychologist from Columbia University, was appointed director after Gebhard’s retirement. Under her directorship, the institute—which was renamed Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction—expanded its vision and broadened its public impact. It also found its fourth home at Morrison Hall on the IU Bloomington campus. By 1990, the Kinsey Institute had grown enough to launch the first full cataloguing and exhibition of art collections.


  • Published: "The Kinsey Report," an internationally syndicated newspaper column, delivers research-based information to the general public


  • Published: Masculinity/Femininity (Oxford University Press), the inaugural volume in "The Kinsey Institute Series"


  • Published: The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex: What You Must Know to be Sexually Literate (St. Martin's Press), the first institute publication written for the general public
  • Exhibited: Selections from the Collections of The Kinsey Institute, the institute's first art exhibit, serves as the catalyst project for the establishment of permanent gallery spaces within The Kinsey Institute and the development of future exhibitions

See Staff Publications for the list of articles, books, and book chapters published during the Reinisch era.

Dr. Stephanie Sanders, 1993–95

Dr. Stephanie Sanders, who joined the institute as a researcher in 1982, served as interim director for two years. Visit Dr. Sanders' profile to learn more about her research at the Kinsey Institute and beyond. 

See Staff Publications for the list of articles, books, and book chapters published during the first Sanders era.


Dr. John Bancroft, 1995–2004

Dr. John Bancroft is the first and only medical doctor to serve as executive director. During his tenure, the Kinsey Institute stepped into clinical research, as well as the digital age. Bancroft also drove the institute to reflect on its mission and its original publications with celebrations of the 50th anniversaries of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Institute staff also expanded their impact during this period by hosting symposiums, numerous art exhibits, and public facility tours.


  • Established: Kinsey Institute clinics for sexual health and menstrual cycle problems
  • Online: KICAT, the institute's online public access catalog, KICAT, is available on the Internet


  • Celebrated: 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the Institute for Sex Research
  • Published: Researching Sexual Behavior: Methodological Issues (Indiana University Press)


  • Reprinted: Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (IU Press) with a new introduction by Bancroft
  • Launched: The Kinsey Institute Sexuality Information Service for Students (KISISS), an online Q&A service targeting Indiana University students.


  • Syndicated: The KISISS Report (now Kinsey Confidential) appears as a weekly column in the Indiana Daily Student


  • Published: Distress about sex: A National Survey of Women in Heterosexual Relationships; Sexual development in childhood.

See Staff Publications for the list of articles, books, and book chapters published during the Bancroft era.

Dr. Julia Heiman, 2004–13

Dr. Julia Heiman’s tenure saw significant growth in research and the collections. Under her guidance, institute researchers produced findings on a number of topics, including: arousal response in bisexual men; sexual satisfaction & relationship happiness in midlife couples; infidelity in heterosexual couples; the effects of hormonal contraceptives on women's sexual experience, and effective condom fit. The institute also hosted a number of art exhibitions and established the Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show.


  • Debuted: Kinsey, a feature film starring Liam Nelson and Laura Linney


  • Exhibited: The institute hosts the first Juried Erotic Art Show


  • Celebrated: 60th anniversary of the founding of the Institute for Sex Research (now he Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction)


  • Awarded: Sarah Lindsley named inaugural John Money Fellow


  • Archived: Kinsey Institute receives archives of noted sex research pioneers Virginia Johnson & William Masters

See Staff Publications for the list of articles, books, and book chapters published during the Heiman era.

Dr. Stephanie Sanders, 2014

Dr. Sanders acted as interim director until the appointment of Dr. Sue Carter in fall 2014.


  • Launched: Kinsey Reporter app released in collaboration with the IU School of Informatics and Computing

See Staff Publications for the list of articles, books, and book chapters published during the second Sanders era.

Dr. Sue Carter, 2014-2019

During Dr. Carter's directorship, the Kinsey Institute expanded its research to examine sexuality and intimacy within the dynamics of relationships. She established the Kinsey Institute Traumatic Stress Research Consortium which is is pioneering collaborative research with clinicians on long-term changes to physiology, physical health, and emotional wellbeing in the aftermath of trauma. Following a serious water pipe break in 2016 in the Institute's home in Morrison Hall, a massive undertaking began to transfer the Kinsey Institute Special Collections to the new Indiana University Libraries Auxiliary Library Storage Facilities (ALF), and the institute began a multi-phase move to a new home in Lindley Hall. Dr. Carter also spearheaded various new outreach initiatives, including the Travelling Exhibitions Program which collaborated with national and international museums and galleries to exhibit Kinsey Institute archival and art items for audiences worldwide, and starting work on a continuing education program which launched in the fall of 2019.


  • Rebranding effort including new website and logo, the flower of aphrodite


  • Launch of Travelling Exhibitions program with exhibition at Intuit in Chicago


  • Kinsey Institute celebrates 70th anniversary with open house and historical exhibition
  • Kinsey Institute exhibition premiers at WEAM during Art Basel in Miami


  • Traumatic Stress Research Consortium (KI-TSRC) established
  • Phase 1 of multi-year move brings administrative and research offices to Lindley Hall
  • Sensual/Sexual/Social joint exhibition with the IMA at Newfields - the first major retrospective of work by photographer George Platt Lynes 


  • Dr. Janet Hyde receives inaugural Alfred C. Kinsey Distinguished Researcher Award 

See Staff Publications for the list of articles, books, and book chapters published during the Carter era.

Current Director

Dr. Justin Garcia, 2019-Current

Dr. Justin Garcia was appointed Acting Executive Director in July 2019, during a period of transition and consolidation. The institute continued its move out of Morrison Hall, and finalized various projects that had been under development in previous years, including the launch of a brand new online sex education initiative, and transferring the Special Collections to the IU Libraries ALF facilities. 

In 2020, Dr. Garcia was appointed Executive Director. The beginning of his direction  of the institute was marked by the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, when the Kinsey Institute pivoted quickly to launch a dedicated COVID-19 research program and provide information and guidance about the impact of the disease on sex and relationships. The Institute also launched new online outreach initiatives including a social media campaign featuring items from the Special Collections on Instagram and Facebook, an online symposium on censorship and obscenity, and a new online format for the Kinsey Institute Discussion Series.


  • Launch of Kinsey Institute Continuing Education online program
  • Phase 2 of multi-year move transfers Collections materials out of Morrison Hall to secure and climate-controlled facilities on the Bloomington IU Campus


  • Establishment of collaboration with The Trevor Project
  • Launch of new COVID-19 research program during the novel coronavirus pandemic
  • Online symposium: "31 Photographs: ‘Obscenity,’ Censorship, and Academic Freedom"
  • Social media Art Wednesday campaign features collections materials


  • Launch of streaming content via the Kinsey Institute Discussion Series on Facebook Live
  • New research collaborations with industry partners including Hearst Corporation magazines Cosmo & Esquire, and sex toy distributor Lovehoney.com
  • New gallery and reading room established in Lindley Hall


See Staff Publications for the list of articles, books, and book chapters published during the Garcia era.

Support Kinsey

Sexuality and intimate relationships are essential to our individual and collective well-being. Your support will help the Kinsey Institute advance research and education in the science of love, sexuality, gender, and sexual health, and give a diverse field of researchers the resources they need to make new discoveries.


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