Home » Volume 17 Number 4 » The Masters and Johnson Collection Now Ready for Primetime

The Masters and Johnson Collection Now Ready for Primetime

Saundra Taylor knows what it takes to organize archives. For 33 years, she served as Curator of Manuscripts at the Lilly Library, the rare books, manuscripts, and special collections library at Indiana University. When she retired in 2008, she approached her colleague Liana Zhou and offered to help out at the Kinsey library. Liana did not hesitate to call on Saundra, and in 2010, asked if she would travel to St. Louis to help her transport the recently donated materials of Virginia Johnson and her partner and former husband, William Masters. So began a 3 year effort by Saundra to organize and catalog the manuscripts, correspondence, and media files of these iconic and original researchers in human sexuality.

Shawn Wilson and Saundra Taylor
Shawn Wilson and Saundra Taylor

Among the treasures are the original manuscript for The Pleasure Bond (1975), chapter-by-chapter drafts of Human Sexual Response (1966), artwork for this book, and drafts of chapters of the 1970 book, Human Sexual Inadequacy. The boxes also hold correspondence with Helen Gurley Brown (Cosmopolitan), Playboy's Hugh Hefner and later Christie Hefner. As sex therapists of the 1970's and 80's, Masters and Johnson had a regular column in Redbook Magazine, and were often interviewed for every popular magazine of the day, from Time to Good Housekeeping to Rolling Stone.

Kinsey Board of Trustees member Judy Simic attended training workshops taught by the iconic couple, and appreciates having the collection at the institute:

"Working with couples with sexual dysfunctions hadn’t been done before. Their correspondence and original drafts on paper add a new dimension to the history of sex therapy.”

On behalf of the family, Scott Johnson, son of Virginia Johnson, expressed his appreciation:

"We are delighted and reassured that the Kinsey Institute Library has become the repository of the Masters and Johnson Archive.  There is clearly no better place, nor can we imagine more competent hands, for the appropriate care and organization of the Collection."

The Masters and Johnson Collection is now available for use by scholars. Saundra Taylor sees much to be explored in this collection, including some of their more controversial views and practices:

"This collection will be useful to anyone who wants to follow the use of sex surrogates and the controversy around them," she noted. "Also, Masters and Johnson testified before the Presidential Commission on the HIV Epidemic during the Reagan adminstration in 1987, and some of their views on HIV/AIDS were pretty controversial."

The Masters and Johnson Collection work may be near completion, but Saundra has another project waiting for her expert organizational skills. Says Kinsey Library Public Services Manager Shawn Wilson, "We are so lucky to have Saundra Taylor's skills and expertise. Such a volunteer is a huge gift to The Kinsey Institute."

The addition of the Masters and Johnson collection to the Kinsey Institute Archives was first announced in our Fall 2011 newsletter. Besides her gratitude to Ms. Taylor, Liana Zhou is so grateful to the family of Virginia Johnson, particularly Scott Johnson, for entrusting the Kinsey Institute with this important archive.

Please contact the Kinsey Library about access to the Masters and Johnson collection, or about donating or lending your expertise to the archival collections.

Original proofs for Masters and Johnson's The Pleasure Bond (1975)





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