Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Open Access


Degree Name

MA in Women's History


In 1948, Professor Alfred C. Kinsey, a zoologist at Indiana University, published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. His research for the controversial book consisted of interviews of more than 12,000 boys and men who responded to multiple questions about their sexual behavior over the course of their lives. Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, based on similar research, appeared five years later. When Kinsey published the first of his two reports, he exposed the frequency of homosexual behavior among men across the United States. The product of the first extensive sexology research conducted in the twentieth century, Kinsey’s statistics on homosexuality contributed to the growing moral panic that would seize American society in the era of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin).

During this contentious moment, the Mattachine Society formed, and a growing number of newsletters and magazines marketed to homosexual men appeared. The Kinsey Institute Archive and Special Collections in Bloomington, Indiana, holds a collection of correspondence between Kinsey and the Mattachine Society and many of the newsletters and pamphlets they distributed. This paper investigates the integral, yet largely neglected, relationship between Kinsey and members of the Mattachine Society as friends, confidants, and pioneers of the sexual revolution and gay liberation movement. Furthermore, by analyzing Kinsey’s letters to and from various Mattachine chapters, I unearth pre-Stonewall Riot efforts at gay liberation that demand revisions in ways historians periodize the movement.

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