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Important Alfred C. Kinsey - Harry Benjamin Donation

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Alfred C. Kinsey - Harry Benjamin correspondence donation to Humboldt University (Germany)

Prof. Erwin J. Haeberle and Ms. Wiese study Cable Donation
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Prof. Dr. phil. Erwin J. Haeberle, Ed. D., M.A., founder of the Archive for Sexology (Berlin, Germany) announces, “Early this month, Ben Cable of Phoenix, Arizona, USA, kindly donated a fascinating correspondence between Harry Benjamin and Alfred C. Kinsey to our Archive”.  Ben Cable, stated, “The Benjamin - Kinsey letters give some invaluable insight into the challenges of studying sexuality and sexual identity in the 1950s. “ The letters, together with many other historical documents collected by the Archive, will be made available to qualified scholars in the new, centrally located main library of Humboldt University, which will open next summer (Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm Center).

Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm Center
Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm Center, Humboldt University, Berlin

Ben Cable, Editor of CableMuse.com, said, “The historical context of these documents is very important; the research value is priceless.  Alfred Kinsey became part of Americana with the release of his sexuality studies. The results of his work had titillated generations that were reluctant to speak of sexual behaviors. However, Harry Benjamin has been relatively unknown to the American public”. 

Harry Benjamin (1885-1987)

“Benjamin and Kinsey corresponded heavily on the subject of Transsexuals, and the process of changing ones physical gender from male to female. Benjamin and Kinsey wrote of the hardship these women had to endure from society and in their personal lives. Along with Kinsey, Harry Benjamin’s research was integral to understanding sexual identity as clinically and socially defined today”, said Cable.

Prof. Dr. Erwin J. Haeberle stated, “Benjamin, who regularly spent the winter in San Francisco (Hotel Drake on Powell Street, around the corner from a medical building where he had his practice) met Kinsey there for the first time. This must have been in the 1940s. Kinsey, who happened to take a series of "sex histories" in California, brought to him a boy who insisted he was really a girl. Kinsey was puzzled and asked Benjamin's medical advice. This was the first time Benjamin came across a "transsexual". From then on, the subject continued to fascinate him. (I must point out, however, that the word "transsexual" had already been coined by Magnus Hirschfeld in the 1920s and that some "sex change" operations had already taken place in Berlin at that time. Benjamin, who regularly visited Vienna, where he studied with Steinach, as well as his birthplace Berlin, knew Hirschfeld very well)”.

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CMN COMMENTARY

Ben Cable on the Kinsey-Benjamin Donation, Sexual Identity and Human Rights (YouTube).

To contact the Archives:

 

Ms. Imbritt Wiese,
Archivist
Haeberle-Hirschfeld-Archiv
Universitaetsbibliothek
Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin
Hessische  Str. 1-2
10115 Berlin, Germany

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