1957 November 1

Alfred Kinsey Wins Sex Research Censorship Case


In the case of United States v. 31 Photographs, a U.S. District Court judge cleared the way for importation of 31 photographs that the Alfred Kinsey had sought to import for his scientific research on sexuality. The judge ruled that the photographs could be brought into the U.S. because they were material for scientific study and not public consumption. The decision ended a three-year battle over the photographs.

While the decision was a victory for Kinsey and his research, it as a very limited one with respect to censorship of sexually related materials, given its narrow focus on research materials.

The two Kinsey reports on sexual behavior among Americans had an important indirect impact on civil liberties, stimulating greater openness about sexuality and a consequent demand for literature and movies with sexual themes, which led to clashes with existing censorship practices. On the first report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, see January 5, 1948. For the report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, see August 20, 1953 and September 23, 1953.

Learn more: James H. Jones, Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life (1987)

Read about Kinsey’s battles with censorship: Leigh Ann Wheeler, How Sex Became a Civil Liberty (2013)

Learn more about the history of the Kinsey Institute:  http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/about/history.html

And more at the National Coalition Against Censorship here.

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