Archive for Sexology

II. Pioneers (1896 - 1936)

1896 The Italian psychiatrist Pasquale Penta edits the first scientific journal devoted entirely to sexual questions: "Archivio delle Psicopatie Sessuali".

The English private scholar Havelock Ellis begins his "Studies in the Psychology of Sex" (last volume 1928). Since they cannot be published in England, they appear in the USA and (in translation) in Germany. The English reading public first comes to know Ellis mostly through his "harmless" collection of essays On Life and Sex. Later, it also gained access to his major work "Studies in the Psychology of Sex".

1897 The Berlin physician Magnus Hirschfeld founds the "Scientific Humanitarian Committee", the world's first "Gay Rights" organization. Its goal is the repeal of the German anti-homosexual law § 175 which punishes sexual contact between men. For the committee Hirschfeld edits the "Yearbook for Intermediate Sexual Stages" (1899-1923). (The centennial of the committee - 1997 - is celebrated in Berlin with a large exhibition "One Hundred Years of Gay Activism"
Hirschfeld's rival, the Berlin physician Albert Moll, publishes his "Investigations Concerning the Libido Sexualis".
1902 At the initiative of Alfred Blaschko, Albert Neisser and others the "German Society for the Fight Against Venereal Diseases" is founded in Berlin.
1903 The French writer Rémy de Gourmont publishes his "Physique de l'amour" (The Natural Philosophy of Love), a popular book containing descriptions and interpretations of animal sexual behavior.
Magnus Hirschfeld begins his statistical surveys on homosexuality. As a result of complaints, they are soon terminated by legal action.
1904 The endocrinologist Eugen Steinach in Prague, later in Vienna, studies the effects of sex hormones on the development of the animal and human body. By means of gonadal transplantation, he succeeds in feminizing male rats and masculinizing female rats.
In Vienna, the ethnologist Friedrich Salomon Krauss begins publication of his yearbook "Anthropophyteia". This work (10 main volumes plus a number of complementary volumes) contains a wealth of folkloristic material about sex which Krauss had personally collected in the Balkans. He thus had become a pioneer of "ethno-sexology" whose work was greatly appreciated by Sigmund Freud, Iwan Bloch, Magnus Hirschfeld, Franz Boas and many others. However, by 1913, as a result of various obscenity trials, he is financially ruined, and his further career, even as a private scholar, is seriously curtailed.
1905 Fritz Schaudinn discovers the spirochete Treponema pallidum, a bacterial organism which causes syphilis.
The Swiss psychiatrist Auguste Forel publishes his book "The Sexual Question" which raises demands that are revolutionary for its time (abolition of most sex laws, marriage for same-sex couples etc.). Forel deliberately combines medical and socio-political viewpoints. His well-intended proposal to practice "eugenics" (i.e. the voluntary genetic improvement of the human race by avoiding the transmission of hereditary diseases) unfortunately carries some (then unrecognized) seeds of totalitarian "racial hygiene" policies such as those later enacted by the Nazis.
Helene Stöcker and others found the Association for the Protection of Mothers ("Bund für Mutterschutz"), which fights for the protection of unmarried mothers and for the legal equality of "illegitimate" children. Her supporter, the dermatologist Max Marcuse, later becomes the editor of the "Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft" (Journal for Sexology).
The Viennese physician Sigmund Freud publishes his "Three Essays on the Theory of Sex". In this work he describes the "normal" development of human sexuality as well as the "perversions", i.e. behaviors which do not correspond to the norm. His theory is based on the doctrine of psychoanalysis (i.e. examination of the mind or soul). According to Freud, the "sex drive" undergoes a process of "maturation" in which various "partial drives" become subordinated to the goal of mature "genitality". The three main phases of his process are: 1. Oral phase, 2. anal phase, 3. phallic phase. In late childhood there also is a "latency phase" in which the sex drive lies dormant until it reawakens during puberty.
1906 Paul Ehrlich and his Japanese collaborator Sahachiro Hata develop the first effective medical treatment of syphilis (by means of a compound called "Salvarsan").

The American anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman, an early advocate of women's rights and birth control, founds her magazine "Mother Earth" which offers political and philosophical essays as well as literary contributions by modern writers of fiction.

1907 The Berlin physician Iwan Bloch publishes his study "The Sexual Life of Our Time". In it he demands the establishment of sexology ("Sexualwissenschaft") as a scientific enterprise in its own right, combining the methods and insights of both the natural and the cultural sciences. What Mantegazza had still called "love" (amore), from now on permanently turns into "sexuality" in the scientific literature.
1908 Magnus Hirschfeld edits the first Journal of Sexology ("Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft"). As a monthly publication, it survives for only one year (12 issues). It contains not only medical contributions, but articles written by a wide spectrum of scientists and scholars, from anthropologists and criminologists to philologists and historians.
1909 Albert Moll publishes his study "The Sexual Life of the Child", disregarding Freud's psychoanalytic theory, which he considers to be unscientific. In this book, Moll for the first time proposes a 4-stage description of the human sexual response: 1. the onset of voluptuousness, 2. the equable voluptuous sensation, 3. the voluptuous acme, 4. the sudden decline.
The Japanese military physician and writer Ogai Mori publishes his autobiographical "Vita Sexualis", in which he describes his own adolescent sexual experiences in a detached and sober, even clinical style. (He also records the homosexual affairs of his classmates without passing any moral judgment.) The book is banned shortly after publication.
1910 Magnus Hirschfeld introduces the term "transvestites", distinguishing them for the first time from homosexuals.
1911 Albert Moll publishes his "Handbuch der Sexualwissenschaften" (Handbook of Sexual Sciences), which contains articles written not only by himself, but also by other sexologists, such as Havelock Ellis.
1912 Iwan Bloch begins the publication of his "Handbuch der gesamten Sexualwissenschaft in Einzeldarstellungen" (Handbook of Sexology in its Entirety Presented in Separate Studies). The first volume "Prostitution, vol. I" is written by himself, the second "Homosexuality in Men and Women" (1914) by Hirschfeld, a third volume by Bloch ("Prostitution, vol. II") appears posthumously. Bloch's untimely death in 1922 ends the entire ambitious project.
1913 In Berlin, Magnus Hirschfeld, Iwan Bloch, Albert Eulenburg and others found the first Medical Society for Sexology and Eugenics ("Ärztliche Gesellschaft für Sexualwissenschaft und Eugenik").

Albert Moll founds the International Society for Sex Research ("Internationale Gesellschaft für Sexualforschung"), also in Berlin.

1914 Magnus Hirschfeld publishes his monumental study (1067 pages) "Homosexuality in Men and Women ("Die Homosexualität des Mannes und des Weibes").

Iwan Bloch and Albert Eulenburg once again found the Journal for Sexology ("Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenchaft").

In the USA, the Rockefeller family takes an interest in sex research and begins to look for ways to support it. Over the next forty years, it makes substantial amounts of money available, first through the Bureau of Social Hygiene and later through the National Research Council (Division of Medical Sciences - Committee for Research in Problems of Sex). However, the scientists in charge are uncomfortable with the subject matter, refuse to investigate it, and instead use the funds for "uncontroversial" basic biological research. They also fail to set up a sexological library and collection or to publish a sexological journal or even a bibliography. Moreover, they refuse to invite Havelock Ellis or to support or even meet the exiled Magnus Hirschfeld and his fellow sexologists Wilhelm Reich, Ernst Gräfenberg, Bernhard Schapiro, and Hans Lehfeldt when they come to the US. Eventually, the Rockefeller Foundation provides at least some funds for the work of Alfred C. Kinsey. However, this support is all too soon withdrawn under pressure from conservative political and religious forces.
1916 Margaret Sanger and her sister open a birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York. It is almost immediately closed by the authorities as a "public nuisance". The Sanger sisters are sentenced to 30 days in the workhouse for having violated state obscenity laws. In spite of these and similar difficulties, Margaret Sanger remains active for many decades in the family planning movement, becoming its most influential organizer not only in the US, but also internationally. For excerpts from her autobiography, click here.
1919 Magnus Hirschfeld opens the first "Institute for Sexology" in Berlin.
1921 In Prague, the university creates a chair of sexual pathology for the dermatologist Prof. Pecirka as a first step towards establishing a sexological institute. Pecirka had trained with Hirschfeld in Berlin, and, after his unexpected death, the university in 1929 - 1930 sends another young dermatologist, Josef Hynie, to Hirschfeld's institute for training. Hynie succeeds in completing the task left unfinished by his predecessor. He retires as the director of the university's Sexological Institute in 1974.

In Moscow, the educator Vera Schmidt founds a children's home. Following psychonanalytical principles, she practices an anti-authoritarian, positive sex education. This also means no interference with masturbation and mutual sexual exploration.

1923 Max Marcuse publishes his "Handwörterbuch der Sexualwissenschaft" (Hand Dictionary of Sexology) which contains original contributions of many prominent writers, including Freud.
1926 In Berlin, Albert Moll organizes the I. International Congress for Sex Research. The opening session is held at the Reichstag (German national parliament). A second congress follows 1930 in London.

The Dutch gynecologist Theodor Hendrik van de Velde publishes his book "Ideal Marriage", a very popular work of adult sex education which tries to encourage men and women to shed their inhibitions within their sexual relationships and to develop their sensuality.

Magnus Hirschfeld begins the publication of his 5-volume "Sexual Knowledge" (Geschlechtskunde) whose last volume appears in 1930.

1928 Magnus Hirschfeld, supported by the Danish physician J. H. Leunbach, organizes a congress in Copenhagen and, on that occasion, founds the World League for Sexual Reform ("Weltliga für Sexualreform"). Presidents are Hirschfeld, Havelock Ellis and Auguste Forel. (Additional Congresses of the League: London 1929, Vienna 1930 and Brno 1932.) Among other things, the League demands the legal and social equality of the sexes, the right to contraception and sex education, reform of sex legislation (decriminalization of 'victimless' sex crimes).
1929 The ethnologist Bronislaw Malinowski publishes his work "The Sexual Life of Savages in North-West Melanesia". The less repressive sexuality described here - and in later books by Margaret Mead and others - offers an interesting and influential contrast to "Western" attitudes.

Katherine B. Davies publishes her massive study "Factors in the Sex Lives of Twenty-Two Hundred Women". The book documents, in the majority of cases, satisfying regular sexual intercourse, masturbation before and after marriage as well as the use of contraceptives.

The Spanish physician and endocrinologist Gregorio Marañon publishes his "Los estados intersexuales". Amended and expanded, it becomes the basis for his most important work "La evolucion de la sexualidad humana y los estados intersexuales" 1930 (The Evolution of Human Sexuality and the Intersexual Stages).

In Bangkok, the French judge René Guyon, who, earlier in the century, had been called to Thailand by the Thai government, begins his radical "Studies in Sexual Ethics". He demands the right to sexual fulfillment for all women and men as long as they do not violate the rights of others. Of the 9 volumes written until 1944, only 6 are published in French (2 also in English). In the 1940's, Guyon also attacks the repressive sexual policies of the League of Nations, and he repeats his criticism in 1951, when he accuses the United Nations of betraying the idea of sexual rights in their Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Japanese sexological pioneer Senji Yamamoto is assassinated by a right-wing extremist.
The English philosopher Bertrand Russell publishes his book "Marriage and Morals", which argues for more and better sex education, the right to premarital and extramarital intercourse and divorce on demand for childless couples. With his wife, Dora Russell, he also runs a coeducational school in which the young students are given considerable freedom. All of this is later used against him in the USA where he is denied a professorship on the grounds that it would amount to establishing a "chair of indecency".
1930 The English physician Helena Wright publishes her book "The Sex Factor in Marriage". Active in the movement for family planning, she remains a leading figure in British sexual medicine until long after World War II.
Magnus Hirschfeld, whose public appearances are subject to increasing Nazi harassment, is no longer safe in Germany. He therefore begins a trip around the world, introducing his new science in hundreds of lectures (USA, Japan, China, Indonesia, India, Egypt, Palestine, Greece). He does not return to Germany.
1931 The gynecologist Robert Latou Dickinson, in collaboration with Laura Beam, publishes his study "A Thousand Marriages". This study, based on questionnaires, analyzes the sex lives of one thousand married women, finding that half of them do not find sexual satisfaction in their marriages. Dickinson, an ardent supporter of contraception, also uses his considerable influence in helping other sexologists.
1933 On May 6, a Nazi goon squad plunders Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexology, which is then promptly closed by the authorities. The library is publicly burned four days later together with the books of other "Un-German" authors like Freud, Brecht, Feuchtwanger, Werfel and Stefan Zweig. Most sexologists lose their opportunities to work, because they are Jewish. They flee into exile. Hirschfeld dies 1935 in France, Max Marcuse, Ernst Klimowsky, and Felix Theilhaber escape to Palestine, Bernhard Schapiro via Switzerland to the USA and finally to Israel, Sigmund Freud and Charlotte Wolff to England, Max Hodann to Sweden, Wilhelm Reich first to Scandinavia, then to the USA, Ludwig Levy-Lenz to Egypt, Hans Lehfeldt and Ernst Gräfenberg to the USA, Arthur Kronfeld to the USSR, Eugen Steinach and Herbert Lewandowski to Switzerland. Friedrich Salomon Krauss dies in Vienna in 1938 before the "Anschluss". Albert Moll remains in Berlin. He is spared the transportation to one of the death camps, because he dies of natural causes in 1939.

In New York, the American science fiction writer and publisher Hugo Gernsback (an immigrant from Luxemburg) founds the popular magazine "Sexology" which tries to educate its readers about the complexities of human sexuality (reproduction, hormones, transvestism, fetishism, homosexuality, STDs, etc.). The magazine is widely dismissed as pornographic by the American intellectual establishment.

1936 Wilhelm Reich publishes his expanded work "Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf" (first version 1930; later rewritten in the USA as "The Sexual Revolution"). Reich combines psychoanalysis and the philosophy of Marx. However, gradually biological interests move to forefront. Typical for this later phase of his work is the book "The Function of the Orgasm" 1942, in which he claims the discovery of an "orgone energy". Indeed, he founds a special orgone energy research institute. Reich also again proposes a 4- stage model of the human sexual response: 1. mechanical tension, 2. bio-electric charge, 3. bio-electric discharge, 4. mechanical relaxation.

page up back to services

Note: Our directories depend on the input of interested readers. For corrections, additions, and suggestions, please contact: