Most of the funding for Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, the controversial book on sexual practice published by insect biologist Alfred Kinsey in 1948, was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Kinsey received the first grant of $1,600 in 1941. By 1947 he was receiving $40,000 annually from the foundation, a large portion of their commitments in behavioral medicine.
Alan Gregg, who ran two important divisions of the Rockefeller Foundation, was a particularly enthusiastic supporter of Kinsey and wrote an introduction to his first book. Kinsey’s claims, which were expanded by the 1953 publication of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, radically transformed popular views of sex and laid the groundwork for the sexual revolution that followed.
Kinsey’s research has since been substantially discredited. His interview samples heavily overrepresented prisoners, prostitutes, homosexuals, graduate students, and other subgroups that result in skewed estimates of many aspects of sexual activity. He included pedophiles in his group and published tables documenting extensive adult sexual contact with children, which he falsified as coming from many sources. He secretly encouraged and recorded, in the attic of his own home, sexual interaction within his staff and between his staff and his family.
Kinsey’s 1948 book became a popular seller, generating large royalties that dwarfed the Rockefeller Foundation’s major grants. This would normally have led to a discontinuation of philanthropic support. In response to pleas from Kinsey, however, the foundation continued to fund him until 1954.
- Rockefeller Foundation history, rockefeller100.org/biography/show/alan-gregg
- Major biography of Kinsey by James H. Jones, Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life (W. W. Norton, 1997)