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From the 1930s onward, people sought out Alfred Kinsey to ask for advice. Students from his Indiana University marriage course came for confidential counseling on their sex-related questions and problems. And once his research became more widely known, the U.S. mails were full of inquiries from across the country.

Read this sampling of letters from Alfred Kinsey's mailbag, along with some of the professor's responses.

January 10, 1948

To: [Name withheld]
North Carolina

...It is very difficult to do anything for a particular person unless we can get together with him, secure a whole history of the sort that we get in our personal interviews, and be on hand when the individual needs help and advice over some period of time. It is simply impossible to do all we wish we could for you by correspondence.

If you could manage to go to see the psychiatrist at Duke University, or some good clinical psychologist anywhere else near you, I think that would help. You must not worry about your problem. It is one that a great many people run into, and while it is difficult to manage such things in our society, it is a problem that a good many people have been able to work out without causing too much trouble. Often we find that a person who has not gotten along with girls has simply never spent enough time with them socially and has not really become acquainted with them. I wonder if that is your trouble.

One of the worst things that can happen to a person is to have them feel that they are abnormal and different from other persons. You must not feel that for that probably is not true. See if you can't find a psychiatrist or psychologist to talk to...

Alfred C. Kinsey
Professor of Zoology

May 9, 1948

To: Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey
Indiana University

Dear Sir,

In reading the interview of you in Cosmopolitan the case is mentioned of a married couple who were sent to prison because of indulging in a sex that is illegal but not uncommon. Would you tell me what that was? My husband has always been very perverted and has ruined our life together. I read everything I see about it.

Thanking you.

I am
Yours truly,

[Name withheld]
Michigan

May 18, 1950

Dear Dr. Kinsey,

I have a little question that has been bothering me for some time and you are the only one I know of who can give me the answer. I hope that you will please answer this using the enclosed self addressed envelope or else pass on this letter to someone who will answer it.

The thing I desire explained is very simply this: I have absolutely no sexual sensitivity in my lips or mouth. I have never heard of anyone who did not receive something of a thrill from a kiss properly administered and especially with the right person. But with me this is completely missing. It is very important to me to know whether this is a somewhat common phenomenon or if I am slightly abnormal in this respect.

I tried to find the answer to this question in your recent book. I found references to variability in degree of sensitivity but nowhere any reference to the fact that such sensitivity might be totally and absolutely lacking.

As far as I can determine, otherwise I am entirely normal sexually. I seem to have all the other sexual attributes that you would expect in a young man of 24. Therefore this problem of mine is not one of extreme importance to me but at the same time is one of which I am very desirous to receive an explanation.

Perhaps also relevant is the fact that from birth I have had but one testicle. I had an operation at an early age to correct that but it proved unsuccessful.

I would certainly appreciate your answering this question for me. Thanking you for your effort I am

Sincerely yours,
[Name withheld]
Maryland

July 1954

Dear Doctor Kinsey:

I hope you will read this letter. I am writing to you because I have a great problem and you know very much about these matters. I do not know where to start but please keep my letter confidential.

Is it possible for a person to be male and female at the same time? I am a girl, 20 years old, and I love another girl very much and she also loves me; and I know that that isn't right. I often wished that I was a boy...

I haven't given you to much to go by and I'm so afraid that you will not answer me. I am at my wit's end, I have even thought strongly of suicide. Please answer me sir. If you can't help me please tell me of someone that can. I will be glad to answer any questions you ask. Please help me.

Sincerely,

[Name withheld]
Michigan

July 13, 1954

To: [Name withheld]
Michigan

...I appreciate your confidence in us as expressed by your bringing your problem to us.

It is difficult to serve you without the sort of personal conference where we could get a complete history from you and discuss these things in more detail than is possible in a letter. I gather that your interest in girls is what we call a homosexual interest, and you will find a whole chapter on female homosexuality in our volume on the female. There is a chapter on male homosexuality in our volume on the male, and it contains some general material which also might be of use to you. If you have a chance to see either of these books, they will serve you better than what I can write in a letter. I am also sending a reprint which might give you some information.

You must not be too disturbed or consider any rash action. There are a great many people in the world who have been able to work out their problem and to make a satisfactory adjustment.

Alfred C. Kinsey
Professor of Zoology

Letters courtesy of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.


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