Indiana University

News Release

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Last modified: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Archival collection of pioneering sex researchers Masters and Johnson donated to The Kinsey Institute

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Nov. 15, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Kinsey Institute has announced the addition of the new Masters and Johnson Collection to The Kinsey Institute library at Indiana University. The collection, including a tantalizing ensemble of correspondences with researchers and others, documents decades of pioneering sex research that transformed conventional understandings of sexual response and sex therapy.

The collection, donated by Virginia Johnson and her family, includes letters, records, correspondence, research papers, media coverage, books, paintings, awards and certificates detailing the sometimes-controversial duo's groundbreaking work from 1957 into the 1990s.

By directly observing the anatomical and physiological sexual responses of their human subjects, Johnson and William Masters introduced research involving human sexual response, sexual dysfunction and disorders. They began their joint work in 1957 at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis before founding the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation, later renamed the Masters and Johnson Institute. Here they worked from 1978 to 1994 conducting independent sexological research and organizing training workshops for researchers, educators and therapists. Masters died in 2001 at the age of 85.

"In many ways, this collection enhances the 20th Century Sex Researchers' Archival Collection at The Kinsey Institute," said Liana Zhou, director of the library and archives. "We are very grateful to Virginia and her family for entrusting the Kinsey Institute with this significant archive. It's an extraordinary collection."

The renowned Kinsey Institute Research Collections, established more than 60 years ago by pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, are used by researchers and scholars from around the world. The collections encompass an extensive array of print materials, film and video, archival material, fine art, artifacts and photographs. Earlier this year, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation donated 30 prints by the influential photographer to the collections (read more).

Considered a treasure trove amidst an already valuable new collection, a wide range of correspondences detail communications between Masters and Johnson and other sex researchers and the general public. On file are correspondences with Albert Ellis, Lonnie Barbach, Frank Beach, Hugh Hefner, Morton Hunt, Richard Green, Alan Guttmacher, Erwin Haeberle and many others, and inquiries and letters sent from around the world, including from Argentina, Chile, England, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela. Also included are administrative files from the Masters and Johnson Institute's workshops and training programs.

Masters and Johnson have been widely recognized for their contributions to sexual, psychological and psychiatric research, particularly for their theory of a four-stage model of sexual response -- also known as "the human sexual response cycle" -- and for their study of sexual response among the elderly. Numbered among their awards are acknowledgements from the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists in 1978, 1985 and 1992. The Society for Sex Research and Therapy grants the Masters and Johnson annual award for research.

Zhou acknowledged the work of Kinsey Institute volunteer Saundra Taylor, who provided guidance to students and staff with preservation, organization and transportation of the collection.

The Kinsey Institute receives support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington, which is dedicated to supporting ongoing faculty research and creative activity and developing new multidisciplinary initiatives to enhance opportunities for federal, state and private research funding.

For more information, contact Jennifer Bass at 812-855-7686 or To access or contribute to the Masters and Johnson Collection, contact Shawn Wilson at

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