Many are aware of the work of Dr. Alfred Kinsey
, the famous researcher in human sexual behavior
who helped pioneer the application of science
Fewer know of the excellent collections based on Kinsey's work currently held at Indiana University
The Kinsey Institute started off as the "Institute for Sex Research" in 1947. It was renamed in 1981 in honor of the 25th anniversary of the passing of Dr. Kinsey.
Materials were housed with the institute from the very beginning, but in 1970 the Information Services Department was founded to provide reference and referral
information. The Kinsey Institute now holds one of the worlds largest collections of erotica, sex research data and papers. The breadth and depth of the collection is
pointed out by Kinsey Institute User Services Coordinator Shawn Wilson:
"There are more than 90,000 volumes in the library collection which include medical/physiological, psychological, sociological and graphical materials as well as pop
culture materials and ephemera. There is a wide array of information in the holdings. The Kinsey Institute functions in an interdisciplinary manner and the library
collection reflects that."
The core of the collection started with Kinsey's own work. Kinsey was one of the first researchers to collect quantifed data on sexual behavior, and his collection
contains the results of his research. Survey data, physiological observations, interview notes and more make up the center of this incredible collection.
The mission of the Kinsey Institute is to "promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship in the fields of human sexuality, gender, and reproduction" which they do
through the development of special collections, programs of research and publication, interdisciplinary conference attendance and provision of information services.
Collections are available, according to Wilson, to both Indiana students and faculty as well as external researchers. These external researchers make use of the
collection year round, and come from a variety of educational backgrounds and collections.
Besides archival data on sexology research, the Institute also receives donations from many sex researchers and interested third parties. According to Wilson, the
Kinsey Institute has only a small budget dedicated to collections development and relies largely on donated materials, of which there are luckily many. Wilson says:
"The Kinsey Institute's collection's house some very rare treasures including a handwritten letter from Sigmund Freud and a Chinese work called "Su E Pian" printed
around 1600 which is the only known copy. In addition to these works and the 90,000 volumes in the library collection, there are more than 75,000 photographs,
7,000 original works of art, 10,000 films, videos, and audio recordings, and archival collections of Alfred Kinsey and other well known figures in sexology."
The output of the Kinsey Collection is also notable. Papers and monographs concerning sexology and human sexual behavior are regularly produced using the
collection as a primary resource. Besides the academic deliverables, Kinsey has also made available other collection materials to produce such works as "The Kiss:
Selections from the Kinsey Institute" and "The Art of Desire: Erotic Treasures from the Kinsey Institute." Other outreach attempts include a host of exhibits
hosted across the world.