Alfred Charles Kinsey (23 June 1894 to 25 August 1956) was a renowned biologist, zoology and entomology professor and “sexologist” who was a pioneer in his field of expertise. He is responsible for making the topic human sexuality into a legitimate field of scientific study as well as a less taboo subject. His legacy continues at Indiana University's Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.
Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, and raised in an extremely strict and religious family, Alfred Kinsey was a hard working, reserved boy. Through high school and college, Kinsey proved himself to be a hard worker and a focused, driven student. After spending two years in an engineering program at the prompting of his father, Kinsey made the choice to pursue the subject he truly loved — biology. He graduated from Bowdoin College with biology and psychology degrees, magna cum laude. He went on to graduate from Harvard University’s Bussey Institute with a master’s degree.
Kinsey’s first book, An Introduction to Biology, was written in 1926 and is still referenced today. In 1943, Alfred Kinsey co-authored Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North American. In his biology studies, he conducted extensive field research of the gall wasp, which would later help to inspire his interest in studying human sexuality.
Sexology, which Kinsey’s field of study came to be known as, turned human sexuality into a subject that could be scientifically researched, just like any other subject. Alfred Kinsey devised the Kinsey Scale which measured sexual orientation on a scale of one to six. His studies would be compiled and published in the Kinsey Reports, beginning with Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and the subsequent Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953).
Alfred Kinsey was indeed a controversial figure of his era, particularly due to some of his views concerning human sexuality. One of his beliefs was that delaying marriage, and therefore, sex, was detrimental psychologically. His openness regarding taboo subjects such as homosexuality, pedophilia and group sex was most definitely contentious at the least, resulting in many criticizing not only his work but also his character. By and large, Kinsey was respected for his scientific, methodical approach to a subject wrought with controversy.
In 1921, Alfred Kinsey married Clara McMillen. They had four children, three of whom survived him. When he passed away at 62, both his critics and supporters agreed that he had forever changed the way scientists and the public viewed human sexuality.