In memoriam

Vern L. Bullough
(1928 – 2006)
First published in Archives of Sexual Behavior April 2008, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 205-205

Vern Bullough was one of the most prolific sexologists not only of his time, but of all time. His more than 50 books and over 150 articles dealt with a very wide variety of subjects, from religious, medical and cultural history to philosophy, politics, gender and transgender issues, from gay liberation and the women’s movement to contraception, prostitution and pornography, but also with practical issues of sex education and nursing. Many of these publications he wrote together with his late first wife Bonnie, a strong partner with a remarkable academic career in her own right.

Since we are all familiar with his work, there is no need to go into details here. Let us simply acknowledge that, to a great extent, it shaped the development of our field in the last few decades not only in the US, but also internationally.

In all of his writings Vern stood firmly in the tradition of the Age of Enlightenment, advocating understanding and tolerance, but, most of all, the value of reason in solving social and sexual problems. He combined his enormous erudition and enlightend attitude with a great deal of courage and was never afraid to tackle controversial subjects. At times, he encountered a great deal of hostility because of this, and it even made him subject to government surveillance, but he remained undeterred.

In addition to being an outstanding researcher and teacher, he was also a visionary. Indeed, he was one of the few sexologists of the older generation who, very early on, recognized the signifiance and the potential of the electronic revolution. Thus, he became one of the strongest supporters of our electronic Archive for Sexology. As the most active member of our scientific advisory board, he contributed two of his major works to which he personally owned the copyright – his history of sex research (“Science in the Bedroom”) and his encyclopedia “Human Sexuality”. Through the online library of our Archive, he made them freely available, and he intended them to remain so in the future. Thus, before his death, he transferred the copyright and the editorship of his enclopedia to me in the hope that I would keep this part of his legacy alive and online. He wanted it to be updated and expanded, and I gratefully accepted this responsibility.

For this reason, I am now taking the liberty of asking you, my fellow academy members, to help me in updating this outstanding work and to write new articles for it. Thus we can all honor the memory of one of our most respected colleagues.

Actually, his enduring initiative now also offers us the opportunity to ensure our own continued global presence. Indeed, the encyclopedia that Vern and Bonnie Bullough started has the potential of becoming the supreme standard sexological reference work for the entire world. Let us contribute to it what we can. Neither the Bulloughs nor we will ever have as many readers in any other medium.

Erwin J. Haeberle