American Sexualities: Identity, Regulation & Liberation in the 20th Century Introduction
This page provides lists of resources or links to resources that explore 20th century American sexuality. Many of the materials that will be identified that were published between 1901-2000 using the strategies below (particularly the "identifying books" and "databases and indexes") will be considered as primary sources because the book or article was written with "modern" thinking. For example, William H. Master & Virginia E. Johnson's Human Sexual Response, published in 1966 (QP251 .M35 Morgan) is a primary source.
Warning: the content of some of the sites linked to (as well as the topic and content on this page) may be offensive or troubling to some people.
Reference (& circulating)
Reference materials are quite useful for finding background information and can be a great starting point for learning names, dates, terms, etc. The online encyclopedias are available to CSU affiliates only.
- The American Century . E741 .E93 1998 Reference
- The Eighties in America . 3 vols. E876 .E347 2008 Reference
- Encyclopedia of the Great Depression and the New Deal . 2 vols. E806 .C543 2001 Reference
- The Fifties in America . 3 vols. E169.12 .F498 2005 Reference & online
- The Forties in America . 3 vols. E169.12 .F676 2001 Reference
- Gale Virtual Reference Library. GVRLonline to CSU affiliates
- American Decades
- American Decades Primary Sources [“Sex and the New Single Girl”]
- Dictionary of American History [“Sexuality”]
- Encyclopedia of Education [“Sexuality Education”]
- Encyclopedia of Gender and Society
- Encyclopedia of Life Course and Human Development
- Encyclopedia of Race and Racism
- Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender
- Encyclopedia of Social Deviance
- The Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health
- The Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide [“United States”]
- Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: The 1960s
- The Sixties: 1960-1969
- The Sixties in America Reference Library
- UXL American Decades
- West’s Encyclopedia of American Law
- Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life
- The Great Depression . E806 .B9 2005 Reference
- Literature Criticism Online . Includes material from Contemporary Literary Criticism, Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, Dictionary of Literary Biography, and more.
- Historical Dictionary from the Great War to the Great Depression . E740.7 .W96 2003 Reference
- Modern America 1914 to 1945 . E766 .G67 1995 Reference
- The Nineties in America . 3 vols. E839 .N56 2009 Reference
- The Seventies in America . 3 vols. E169.12 .S447 2006 Reference
- The Sixties in America . 3 vols. E841 .S55 1999 Reference
- St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture . 5 vols. E169.1 .S764 2000 Reference and SJEPConline to CSU affiliates.
- The Thirties in America . 3 vols. E169.1 .T475 2001 Reference & online
- The Twenties in America . 3 vols. E784 .T84 2012 Reference & online
- The 1900s . E169.1 .B248 2002 Morgan
- The 1910s . E169.1 .B634 2002 Morgan
- The 1920s . E169.1 .D796 2004 Morgan
- The 1930s . E169.1 .Y59 2002 Morgan
- The 1940s . E169.1 .S559 2004 Morgan
- The 1950s . E169.12 .Y69 2004 Morgan
- The 1960s . E169.12 .R53 2003 Morgan
- The 1970s . E169.Z8 S24 2007 Morgan
- The 1980s . E169.Z82 B386 2007 Morgan
- The 1990s . E169.12 .O96 2003 Morgan
Books are an important source for information. The subject headings listed in this section can be used to find books related to North American borderlands in any library catalog which uses Library of Congress Subject Headings, including CSU's library catalog. Do a subject search using the terms below to identify books in CSU's library catalog and the Regional Catalog Prospector (the Colorado Union Catalog). Books may be requested from Prospector by CSU affiliates. Be sure to look at related subjects (often linked to just above the searched term) and subdivisions. "Sources" at the end of a subject term means primary source.
*Sources means primary sources
Fall 2016 HIST492 specific terms (may be of interest to others):
- Cold War
- Cold War Social Aspects
- Cold War Social Aspects United States
- Dandridge Dorothy 1924 1965 [1 item]
- Dating Social Customs
- Dating Social Customs United States
- Divorce United States
- Gays Legal Status Laws Etc United States
- Hip Hop
- Hip Hop United States
- Homophobia United States
- Mass Media and Gays United States [1 item]
- Monroe Marilyn 1926 1962
See also "Library of Congress Subject Headings for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) Topics" compiled/updated by John DeSantis, Thomas Bolze, Deborah LaFond, and Thom Sullivan on Nicholae Cline's Gender Studies page at Indiana University Libraries.
WorldCat. All years of materials. Books, serials, archival collections, microforms, images, and more. The subject heading listed above work here.
Example book titles in CSU Libraries:
- Documenting Intimate Matters: Primary Sources for a History of Sexuality in America. Edited by Thomas A. Foster. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012. HQ18.U5 D63 2012 MORGAN
- The Gay & Lesbian Atlas. Gary J. Gates & Jason Ost. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press, 2004. HQ76.3.U5 G355 2004 MORGAN
- Gay and Lesbian Rights in the United States: A Documentary History. Edited by Walter L. Williams and Yolanda Retter. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003. HQ76.8.U5 G37 2003 MORGAN
- Making War, Making Women: Femininity and Duty on the American Home Front, 1941-1945. McEuen, Melissa A. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011. HQ1420 .M383 2011 MORGAN
- Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2000. HQ1426 .R325 2000 MORGAN
- Sexology Uncensored: The Documents of Sexual Science. Edited by Lucy Bland and Laura Doan. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998. HQ60 .S4965 1998 MORGAN Teaching Sex: The Shaping of Adolescence in the 20th Century. Jeffrey P. Moran. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. HQ57.5.A3 M66 2000 Morgan
- What Adolescents Ought to Know: Sexual Health Texts in Early Twentieth-Century America. Jennifer Burek Pierce. Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 2011. WAOKebook
Project Gutenberg. Find full text books from the early 20th century (and earlier, but this page focuses on the 20th century).
Subjects that apply to the topic include: Children -- Sexual behavior; Sex; Sex -- Caricatures and cartoons; Sex -- Humor; Sex -- Popular works; Sex -- Religious aspects; Sex (Biology); Sex (Psychology); Sex addicts -- Biography; Sex customs -- Drama; Sex customs -- Fiction; Sex customs -- History; Sex differences; Sex differences -- Fiction ; Sex differences -- Humor; Sex discrimination -- Fiction; Sex instruction; Sex instruction for children; Sex instruction for men; Sex role; Sex role -- Biblical teaching -- Humor; Sex role -- Drama; Sex role -- Fiction; Sex role -- Poetry; Sexism; Sexual attraction -- Fiction; Sexual disorders -- Popular works ; Sexual ethics; Sexual ethics -- Early 20th century; Sexual health; Sexual intercourse; Sexually transmitted diseases; Sexually transmitted diseases -- Fiction. Also the author (and activist) Margaret Sanger.
Be sure to carefully evaluate all resources. How to Evaluate Books gives an outline for books.
Browse the shelves with these Library of Congress Classifications:
1-2044..........The Family. Marriage. Women
19-30.7..........Sexual behavior and attitudes. Sexuality
31-64.......... Sex instruction and sexual ethics
71-72.......... Sexual deviations
79..........Sadism. Masochism. Fetishism, etc.
449..........Emasculation. Eunuchs, etc.
503-1064..........The family. Marriage. Home
767.8-792.2..........Children. Child development
793-799.2..........Youth. Adolescents. Teenagers
799.5-799.9..........Young men and women
801-801.83..........Man-woman relationships. Courtship. Dating
802..........Matrimonial bureaus. Marriage brokerage
803..........Temporary marriage. Trial marriage. Companionate marriage
804..........Breach of promise
998-999.......... Illegitimacy. Unmarried mothers
1001-1006.......... The state and marriage
1051-1057.......... The church and marriage
1058-1058.5..........Widows and widowers. Widowhood
2035-2039..........Life skills. Coping skills. Everyday living skills
A good place to find contemporary reactions to books is from book reviews. See Book Reviews for resources available to CSU affiliates
These journals are owned by CSU. Years of ownership vary. Some are available electronically, some in print, and some both. Only CSU affiliates may access some of the online journals. This is just a focused selection.
- Advances in Sex Research. 1963- in JSTOR; most recent 8 years not available
- Archives of Sexual Behavior. HQ 1 .A7 Bound Journals and Storage 1972/1973-1977,1980-1982,1985,1987-1990,1992-1993,1995-2006 and ASBonline 1997-
- Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy HQ 1 .J55 Bound Journals 1974/1975-1980, 1983-2006
- Journal of Sex Research. 1965- in JSTOR; most recent 8 years not available and ASP 1975- most recent 18 months not available
- Sexual Science. 2000-2010 in ASP
- SIECUS Report [Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S.] HQ 1 .S37 Bound Journals 1984/1985-1986/1987,1990/1991-2005
Databases & Indexes
- Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. AI 3 .R48 Reference 1900- [This is the KEY resource for the early part of the 20th century.]
- Humanities Index . AI 3 .I495 Reference 1974-1998
- International Political Science Abstracts . JA 36 .I5 Reference 1951-2006
- Nineteenth Century Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature , 1890-1899; with supplementary indexing, 1900-1922. AI3 .R496 Reference
- Social Sciences Index . AI 3 .I496 Reference 1974/75-1998/99
These indexes may be accessed remotely by CSU affiliates (also via the "A-Z Databases" page). Be sure to use a variety of terms, not just those suggested below.
America: History & Life. 1964- . U.S. and Canadian history from prehistory to the present. Indexing for 1,700 journals.
Search: Birth control history; Erotic films; Gay men United States; Gay men United States Diaries; Gay Men United States History 20th Century; Gay Men United States Social Conditions; Gay Men United States Social Life And Customs; Gay rights movement; Homosexuality United States history; Human sexuality; Human sexuality & history; Human sexuality government policy; Human sexuality in mass media (v few); Human sexuality in motion pictures; Human sexuality on television; Human sexuality United States; Language & human sexuality; Oral contraceptives; Prostitution Social aspects; Prostitution United States History; Sex education; Sexual minority community; Sexual orientation identity. Limit by historical era (date of topic discussed, not date of article).
JSTOR. Full text articles at least 3-5 years old (varies by journal). Scholarly journals. Full text.
Book reviews galore, but they may be "narrowed" out in the advanced search (check only the box for articles). No subject terms so a wide variety of vocabulary and terms will be needed to search this resource. Find such items as:
- "The Importance of Being Orgasmic: Sexuality, Gender, and Marital Sex Manuals in the United States, 1920-1963." Jessamyn Neuhaus. Journal of the History of Sexuality 9.4 (Oct. 2000): 447-473.
- "Problems of Research on a Delicate Topic: A Personal View." Vern L. Bullough. The Journal of Sex Research 21.4 (Nov. 1985):. 375-386.
- "Men and Romantic Love: Pinpointing a 20th-Century Change." Peter N. Stearns and Mark Knapp. Journal of Social History 26.4 (Summer, 1993): 769-795.
- "Sex and Family Life." J. Richard Udry. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 376 Sex and the Contemporary American Scene (Mar. 1968): 25-35.
- "Unscientific Aspects of Sex Education." A. H. Clemens and Jean Schick Grossman. Marriage and Family Living 15.1 (Feb. 1953): 10-14.
- "The Human Pairing Season in America." R. Clyde White. American Journal of Sociology 32.5 (Mar. 1927): 800-805.
- "Sex Hygiene." Elisabeth Cocke. The American Journal of Nursing 12.5 (Feb., 1912): 382-387.
Related to specific topics Fall 2016:
- "Black Women in Films." Edward Mapp. The Black Scholar 4.6/7 Black Women's Liberation (March-April 1973): 42-46.
- "History and Current Status of Divorce in the United States." Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr. The Future of Children 4.1 Children and Divorce (Spring 1994): 29-43.
- "House of Delegates Acts on Malpractice Insurance, Rejects Proposals on Gay Rights and Abortion." American Bar Association Journal 62.10 (October 1976): 1277-1289.
- "Queer Visual Culture Texts." James H. Sanders III. Visual Arts Research 33.1 (2007): 44-55.
- "Sexual Morality, CulturalMorality: One in the Same." Patti Capel Swartz. Race, Gender & Class 7.1 Sexuality: Toward A Race, Gender, Class Perspective (2000): 91-109.
- "Timing Effects on Divorce: 20th Century Experience in the United States." Robert Schoen and Vladimir Canudas-Romo. Journal of Marriage and Family 68.3 (Aug. 2006): 749-758.
Historical Abstracts. 1954- .
Worldwide history. Includes Mexico, Canada, and USA, but Canada and U.S. have better coverage in America: History & Life: Historical Abstracts "covers the history of the world (excluding the United States and Canada) from 1450 to the present, including world history, military history, women's history, history of education, and more. . . . [has] indexing of more than 1,700 academic historical journals in over 40 languages back to 1955." Search for United States OR USA; human sexuality; women; homosexuality; human trafficking; human sexuality--psychological aspects; gender identity. Limit by historical era (date of topic discussed, not date of article).
Communication & Mass Media Complete. Varies.
Find articles about how topics covered in the media. Selected subject terms include: mass media; sexual orientation identity; public opinion; political attitudes; heteronormativity; queer theory; homophobia; LGBT people; sexual diversity; homosexuality law & legislation; flirting; LGBT families; LGBT parents; coming out sexual orientation; gay people identity; bisexuality; feminism; masculinity; gender; gay people on television; homosexuality.
A search for sexual behavior AND United States in articles 1901-2000 finds over 800 results. Sex AND United States finds over 3400 titles for the same date range.
Sex and United States finds over 3300 results for 1930-1999. There are 17,397 results for sexual identity.
Lots of results for a keyword search for sexual behavior (goes beyond human behavior, so look through titles and abstracts carefully; over 61,000 dated 1997 and earlier of these there are over 14,000 dated 1978 and earlier; 2076 are 1960 and earlier; 680 are 1941 and earlier; 202 are 1921 and earlier; 73 are 1901 or earlier (4 from 1901). In the advanced search one can search for sexual behavior in items 1901-2000 and find 70,521 results. See such early 20th century articles such as: Buttie, Ian D."The Significance of the Sexual Instinct for Anthropology and Psycho-Pathology." The Lancet 198.5125 (1921): 1085-8.
Social Services Abstracts. 1980- .
While only have 21 years of sources in the 20th century, there are items of interest here.
Limit by year to get 20th century perspectives on topics. Can search or sort by age groups (for example: all adult: 19+ years; adult: 19-44 years; middle aged: 45-64 years; aged: 65+ years; adolescent: 13-18 years: all child 0-18 years). A keyword search in the database for "sex" finds over 670,000 items; add AND United States and there are 43,000+ results. Limit to years 1935-2000 (earliest item for sex and United States from 1935) and there are 14,525 items. Better searches for this topic would be: sexual behavior; sex education; hiv infections; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Sexual behavior and United States for dates 1947-2000 brings up 2882 results. "Sexual behavior" searched as a subject brings up 32,273 items; limit to United States and there are 2066 items. [Numbers as of early September 2016.] Other terms: copulation physiology; female; male.
Project MUSE. Varies.
Search by discipline, if desired.
Digital Dissertations & Theses. 1861- . Many full text 1997- .
Abstracts and citations to dissertations from around the world.
Academic Search Premier. Years vary.
Catch-all database. Look here last, if needed, or to find mainstream articles aimed at a lay audience.
"Independent Voices is a digital collection of alternative press newspapers, magazines and journals, drawn from the special collections of participating libraries. These periodicals were produced by feminists, dissident GIs, campus radicals, Native Americans, anti-war activists, Black Power advocates, Hispanics, LGBT activists, the extreme right-wing press and alternative literary magazines during the latter half of the 20th century." A search for "sex" finds 34,067 results as of early September 2016.
Windy City Times. Copyright © 2016 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
"The Voice of Chicago's Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans and Queer community since 1985." News is divided by: daily breaking, news, entertainment, and outlines.
New York Times Historical 1851- .
Most recent years not available. Use New York Times ProQuest Microfilm for more up to most recent month. Find images of articles from the newspaper. Terminology for earlier years will need to be flexible and possibly quite imaginative in order to find relevant materials.
Times Digital Archive and Sunday Times Digital Archive (London).
Read about views of American sexual habits from the British perspective. It may be necessary to use specific geographical terms to find articles (cities, states). Sex AND (United States or America) brings up 303 items for 1901-2000; sex and New York brings up 198 results for the same time period.
North American Women's Letters and Diaries. Colonial to 1950. Alexander Street Press.
"North American Women's Letters and Diaries includes the immediate experiences of 1,325 women and 150,000 pages of diaries and letters." Browse by authors, sources, years, places, historical events, personal events, and showcase. Search by a number of options: age when writing, marital status when writing, age at marriage, year written, and much more.
Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. Library of Congress.
Search for photographs by name or topic. Or by collection, for example, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives or Posters: WPA Posters. Information on individual items includes title, creator(s), date created, rights advisory, and subjects.
Summaries, Artifacts, & Documents. CSU History Research Guide section.Section of "United States of America (History)" Web page.
Links to Web sites and CSU databases (only available to CSU affiliates) that have primary source materials to do with U.S. history. A few of these are duplicated on this page.
U.S. Congressional Serial Set. Readex. U.S. Governmental sources 1817- . Primary sources.
The U.S. government has a number of protection acts and bills. For example, "Child Protection and Sexual Predator Punishment Act of 1998" and "Anti-Hypocrisy Act of 1997."
Statistical Abstract of the United States. online 2013- and selected years online in Serial Set and GPO. C3. 134: 1879,1883,1886-1889,1891-1893,1895-1903,1906-1926,1928-2012 DOCS REF. Look up topics here to find out what is covered and then use the print (or individual year online if available) resource for 20th century coverage. Some index terms of interest: Sexual behavior, Homosexuality, Men, Women, Youth. When using the print resource, the index at the back refers to Table numbers, not pages. Tables tend to keep the same number from year to year.
Going to reputable medical Web sites is one way to do research on sex. Unfortunately, researchers will probably find current views (that is, not 20th century perspectives), not historical ones. However, sometimes current research gives a historical background of a topic, so it may be helpful to look through these 21st century items.
Note: these items directly below display the results of a search for"sex" in the sites' search engines.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Healthy Women.
- Mayo Clinic. Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota.
- MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- NIH. National Institutes of Health.
- Stanford Medicine.
- Womenshealth.gov. Office on Women's Health. US. Department of Health and Human Services.
Birds Do It, Bees Do It: A Century of Sex (Mis)Education in the United States. WayBack Machine. Was on UC Berkeley Library. Early Twentieth Century. Online exhibit of primary sources.
Divided by era and topic. For example, Sex Ed on Film and Video Playlist.
Selected Moments of the 20th Century. History of Education. Daniel Schugurensky. Arizona State University.
Divided by decade. Short descriptions of incidents and publications.
Sexual & Reproductive Health. Go Ask Alice. Columbia University.
Has some questions about 20th century behaviors answered, in addition to current information.
Sex, etc. Rutgers University.
These may be theses, dissertations, or scholarly papers made available in a digital repository.
- "Sex and Gasoline: Selling Sex in Twentieth Century America." Elizabeth Puckett. Georgia Southern University. MA Thesis . 2011. Link not working 8/30/17.
- "Social Change: The Sexual Revolution." Jeremy Greenwood and Nezih Guner. University of Pennsylvania ScholarlyCommons. PSC Working Paper SEries. Population Studies Center. 2009.
Also of interest