Alfred Kinsey Collection

The Alfred Kinsey Collection spans 27 years from 1920–1947*. The collection represents Kinsey's tenure at Indiana University before the foundation of the Institute of Sex Research (now known as the Kinsey Institute).

* Material dated after 1947 is cataloged and stored as part of the Kinsey Institute Archives Collection.

Alfred C. Kinsey

About the collection

The collection represents Kinsey's tenure at Indiana University before the establishment of the Institute for Sex Research. It includes:

  • Entomology course materials on entomology (papers and slides)
  • Zoology course materials (papers, slides, and photographs)
  • Speeches and lectures (1939–1942)
  • Laboratory and office equipment
  • Administrative records relating to his work at Indiana University

Kinsey: Before the institute

Alfred Charles Kinsey (1894–1956) earned a B.Sc. in Biology and Psychology from Bowdoin College in 1916 and a Sc.D. in Biology from Harvard University in 1919. The following year, Dr. Kinsey was hired by Indiana University as an Assistant Professor of Zoology and established a solid academic reputation through his taxonomic research on gall wasps and his high school textbooks. In 1937, American Men of Science listed Kinsey as one of its "starred" scientists.


The Association of Women students petitioned Indiana University to offer a course on marriage for students who were married or contemplating marriage. Kinsey, who was invited to coordinate the new marriage course, found little information existed on human sexual behavior. In his view, existing studies on this topic were value-laden or based on small samples of patients. Kinsey began gathering case histories of sexual behavior.


IU President Herman B Wells gave Kinsey a choice: continue with the marriage course or pursue his sexuality research project. He chose the latter. By 1941, Kinsey's pioneering work had earned the financial support of the National Research Council (at that time funded by the Rockefeller Foundation), which continued until 1954.


Kinsey and the research staff decided to incorporate as an entity separate from Indiana University after consulting with IU President Herman B Wells, Alan Gregg of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Robert Yerkes, chairman of the National Research Council’s Committee for Research on the Problems of Sex. On April 7, 1947, the Institute for Sex Research (ISR) was officially founded with the research team serving as trustees. By incorporating as ISR, the team could guarantee absolute confidentiality to interview subjects and attain a secure, permanent location for the growing collection of data and other research materials.

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