Archive for Sexology
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Magnus Hirschfeld (1868 - 1935).
- The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee
The following sampler gives a first impression of the documents in our collection, which contains many more items than are shown here.
The entire collection can be studied on location at our archive during regular opening hours.
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In 1897, Hirschfeld and some of his friends founded the world's first "gay rights organisation" - the Scientific-Humanitarian
Committee. Its goal was the abolition of the German law punishing sexual contact between men (Paragraph 175 of the penal code). To this
end, the committee embarked on a public education campaign with lectures and various publications, and sent repeated petitions to the
German parliament (Reichstag), which were signed by many prominent personalities, including August Bebel, Richard von Krafft-Ebing,
Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Gerhart Hauptmann and others. However,
the campaign remained unsuccessful in Hirschfeld's lifetime. The paragraph was not reformed until 1969 and not entirely removed
until 1994. Today, the committee is mostly remembered for its great legacy of homosexuality research - the "Yearbook of Intermediate
Sexual Stages" (1899-1922). The complete set of 23 vols. is available at the Archiv für Sexualwissenschaft. For the centennial of
the founding of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, the Academy of Arts in Berlin showed a large exhibition "One Hundred Years
of Gay Activism".
The photo on the right shows Hirschfeld at the time of the founding of the committee.
|1. Title page of the second Year Book for Sexual Intermediate Stages. [38K]
||2. Invitation signed by Hirschfeld to a meeting of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee (January 13, 1901). [50K]
||3. In order to further the aims of the committee, Hirschfeld published a number of studies on homosexuality. Shown here
is a booklet reporting on a statistical survey of 1904, trying to establish the percentage of male homosexuals in the general population.
|4. This postcard is the survey instrument used in the preceding study (Nr.3). At the bottom, the young respondents were supposed to circle their
age; at the top they were supposed to underline their erotic preference, i.e. W. (female) or M. (male) or W. + M. (both sexes). [34K]
||5. Title page of a booklet published in 1905 on sexual gradations, i.e. a blend of male and female sexual characteristics.
The booklet was once owned by the American writer George Sylvester Viereck, and
it bears the stamp of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. [112K]
||6. Photo of Dr. Kopp of the Berlin criminal police, in whose company Hirschfeld used to tour the city's gay bars. On one
of these occasions, they invited the young and curious, but heterosexual Harry
Benjamin to accompany them. Kopp supported Hirschfeld and the aims of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. [24K]
|7. Cover of the 70th anniversary reprint edition of Hirschfeld's great study "Homosexuality in Men and Women"
||8. A letter to Hirschfeld of January 22, 1930 and 9. a letter from Hirschfeld of March 1, 1930. Both letters
deal with a proposal to organize an American gay movement. For details see: E.J. Haeberle, "A Movement of Inverts: An Early Plan for
a Homosexual Organization in the United States", Journal of Homosexuality, vol. 10, No. 1/2, Fall 1984. The first letter bears the
large handwritten letters WLSR, and the second letter is written on WLSR stationery, although the proposal should have been a matter for
the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. However, at the time of the correspondance, Hirschfeld was no longer active in the committee
because it had moved its offices out of his institute as a result of an intrigue by Richard
Linsert. [257K and 240K]
For a full size translation of 8. click here; for a
full size translation of 9. click here.
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additions, and suggestions, please contact: HaeberleE@web.de