Previous Page Table of Contents


How to Do Further Research
Pathways to Sex Information
Basic Reference Works
Books and Other Monographs
Data Bases
Conference Papers

How to Do Further Research

There is an axiom among librarians that all information exists—it is merely a matter of knowing how to locate what one needs. "We have ways," mutter librarians to each other and to skeptics.

And for sexuality, vast springs of information—not all of it obvious—may be tapped by the librarian and researcher alike. For this most popular and yet private of topics, the choices among sources are wide: from scholarly to underground, from printed matter to experts, from legal texts to pornography.

How does one find information about sexuality? The following discussion provides a brief introduction to the search process, and then what—in this short space—can be only the sketchiest of maps to sources.

Pathways to Sex Information

Quick Searches
Getting a Basic Background
In-Depth Investigations
Hiring Help

Quick Searches

Many questions about sex require relatively brief factual answers: What is the "squeeze technique" for premature ejaculation? How are pornography and erotica defined? Do many people practice oral-genital sex? For these questions, the most helpful sources are the basic reference works listed in the next section. Most can be found in libraries, particularly large public libraries, academic libraries, and medical libraries (usually open to the public, although not with checkout privileges). Also available in libraries and often quite helpful for basic questions are the general encyclopedias, such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Encyclopedia Americana, and the Academic American Encyclopedia. (When using these works, check the index first, not the alphabetic entries.)

For broader information about a particular topic, the classic place to start is a general book on the subject or a key magazine or journal article. But how does one locate this key source?

The fastest way is to visit a nearby library or bookstore, find the shelf with the "sex books," and browse. In libraries, this is likely to be in stack sections marked 306 or HQ, depending on whether that library is arranged by Dewey decimal classification or Library of Congress classification. In bookstores, sex is often included within self-help, psychology, or health.

Getting a Basic Background

For a more thorough review of possibilities, one may begin with the library catalog, together with some of the bibliographies and indexes described below. For recent articles written for the lay audience, try the New York Times Index, the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, and the Alternative Press Index. For scholarly articles, Psychological Abstracts and Sociological Abstracts are good pointers to published research.

However, a caution is necessary about what a librarian would call "search terms." We are interested, let us say, in "courtship." We then dutifully go to the library catalog and indexes - and find very little or nothing under that term.

We suspect that the information is there, however, and it probably is—merely a rose by another name. Now one must use a little imagination in finding those "other names." We think, what do we mean by courtship? We mean falling in love, dating, the singles scene, flirtation, even premarital sex. We mean "how to pick up girls," "finding Mr. Right," opening lines, campus parties. We mean how to make friends, how to be popular with the opposite sex, and how to have good sex with a new lover. Many of these phrases can lead to usable search terms, so we keep trying. There are few dead ends in information searching—only false starts; if we find one good article or book under a particular term, we can write that term down and use it to search other catalogs and indexes.

However, even when one finds references on one's exact topic, it is often fruitful to hunt for roses by other names. For teenage pregnancy, related topics include abortion, birth control, and adoption; and for pornography, related topics include erotica, censorship, and adult films. It is always best to start with the narrowest terms and then broaden the search to more inclusive categories if first attempts prove unsatisfactory.

With one or two key books or articles, perhaps the question is answered—but perhaps not. The next step is to use the references in those key sources as pointers to other sources. This has been called "citation pearl growing": the other sources contain bibliographies that provide further references, some highly relevant, and these provide still more references, and so on, and the "pearl" of information grows larger and larger.

Another next step (and sometimes a good first step, depending on the topic) is to go to organizations. As discussed below, it seems that when more than three Americans discover a common interest, they found an association—in sex as well as anything else. There are organized groups of people studying sex, practicing various kinds of sex, and attempting to alleviate various kinds of perceived problems associated with sex. Most have strong interests in promoting their cause and will make available pamphlets, bibliographies, publications, and even experts for consultations and speaking engagements.

In-Depth Investigations

For a no-holds-barred search—for a book, dissertation, major research project, or private obsession—one keeps going. First, one uses the basic books and articles, and then catalogs, bibliographies, and indexes to locate additional basic sources, together with supporting sources. One assiduously uses references in all sources as pointers to still further sources. Simultaneously, one identifies the major organizations and contacts them, perhaps subscribing to their newsletters.

In fact, it is often highly rewarding to make an extra effort to seek out newsletters and "little magazines." Many are listed in the library periodical directories described below. These newsletters usually carry reviews and advertisements and often mention other publications and organizations not listed in any reference works. Furthermore, being on the mailing lists of organizations and newsletters means getting mail from those who buy the lists to sell their publications and organizations, also very likely not mentioned elsewhere.

For example, the Journal of Gender Studies, a biannual publication on cross-dressing, transvestism, transgenderism, transsexuality, and androgyny, is not listed in any library periodical directory, nor was its precursor, Outreach Beacon. But a free sample copy was sent recently to all members of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex (SSSS). Similarly, a fascinating list of gay, lesbian, and bisexual underground '"zines"—with tides like Holy Titclamps and Girl Jock—was included in Equal Time, a gay and lesbian newspaper listed both in the Ulrich's and Gale directories (see below).

When one has obtained a good grasp of the topic from reading the literature—scholarly, popular, and underground, as appropriate—the next step is people. Now is the time to correspond with key authors, to attend meetings of the major organizations and "network" with the members (and, at conferences, the exhibitors—another great source of hidden information), and to contact experts of any stripe. What new information is available? What other topics are relevant to the research? Who is doing interesting work in this area? Am I on the right track? Papers presented at scientific meetings are also good indicators of new research not yet appearing in print.

With a fresh and probably widened perspective, one goes back to the literature, bouncing back and forth from indexes to publications, to other publications, to hidden sources, to organizations, to little-known sources, to people and back again until one's project is concluded (or one's obsession is satisfied). The process can take as little as a month or as long as a lifetime, depending on one's needs and interests.

Hiring Help

If one has enough money, one can hire individuals and organizations to assist in the information search or even to take on most of the work. Such assistance is referred to in library circles as either "information on demand" or "fee-based information services." Lists of such help for hire may be found in the Information Industry Directory (Gale Research, Detroit; in many libraries— check "information on demand" in the index) and in the Directory of Fee Based Information Services (Burwell Enterprises, 3724 FM 1960 West, Suite 214, Houston, TX 77068). Fee-based information services will do manual and computer searches, compile bibliographies, obtain copies of books and articles, verify facts—even act as brokers for translations and contact experts.

However, do not hesitate to ask the librarian for help. Library staff are experts on the collection and can provide much valuable advice free of charge.

Basic Reference Works

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
Directories and Catalogs
Textbooks and Basic Guides

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

The editors and contributors to this encyclopedia hope that it will answer readers' questions about sex as well as refer them to further sources. A recent and more specialized complementary work is the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, edited by Wayne Dynes (Garland, 1990). Earlier and quite comprehensive is the Encyclopedia of Sexual Behavior, edited by Albert Ellis and Albert Abarbanel (Hawthorn Books, 1960; reprinted in paperback by Ace).

Dictionaries of sexual terms, happily, have proliferated in recent years. The largest and most current—and both comprehensive and eclectic—is A Descriptive Dictionary and Atlas of Sexology, edited by Robert T. Francoeur, Timothy Perper, and Norman A. Scherzer (Greenwood Press, 1991). Another good choice, although much shorter, is The Language of Sex from A to Z, by Robert M. Goldenson and Kenneth N. Anderson (World Almanac, 1986). More specialized dictionaries include The Language of Sadomasochism, by Thomas E. Murray and Thomas Murrell (Greenwood Press, 1989), A Feminist Dictionary, edited by Chéris Kramerae and Paula Treichler (Pandora Press, 1985), and Signs of Sexual Behavior, by James Woodward (dictionary of American Sign Language; TJ. Publishers, 1979).

For those interested in Latin and French terms, there are The Latin Sexual Vocabulary, by J.N. Adams (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982) and Merdel The Real French You Were Never Taught at School, by Genevieive [Edis] (Atheneum, 1986; also, Merde Encore, 1987).

Part encyclopedia, part dictionary, and part how-to book is the famous "Joy of Sex," now The New Joy of Sex, edited by Alex Comfort (Crown, 1991), which is nicely written and enjoyable to read, although without references. For gay men, the equivalent is the New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein and Felice Picano (HarperCollins, 1992); and for lesbians, Lesbian Sex (Spinster Books, 1984) and Lesbian Passion (Spinster Books, 1987), both by JoAnn Loulan.

Directories and Catalogs

The homosexual community has a well-established and highly useful set of directories: Gayellow Pages, covering men's and women's interests (Renaissance House, in national and regional editions), and Gaia's Guide, lesbian only (Robin Tyler Productions; Sepulveda, CA). Both are updated regularly and may be ordered from Giovanni's Room (see books, below). Both are segmented geographically and list regional publications, bars and restaurants, religious groups, resorts and accommodations, counseling and networking organizations, hotlines, television and radio shows, bookstores, and other services.

The closest general equivalent (although not regionally oriented) seems to be the out-of-date yet nonetheless fascinating Catalog of Sexual Consciousness (Grove Press, 1975), an idiosyncratic grouping of referrals to organizations and publications (with excerpts), arranged by topic: massage, contraception, transvestism, rape, and so forth.

Another very helpful pointer to further sources of gay-related information is the excellent Gay and Lesbian Library Service, edited by Cal Gough and Ellen Greenblatt (McFarland, 1990), with many appendixes listing, for example, bibliographies, core materials, publishers, bookstores, special collections, and famous gay people.


While there have been sex surveys before and after Kinsey (many are listed in Frayser and Whitby, 1987; see below), his companion male and female volumes still constitute the major source of benchmark data on sexual behavior—how many people do what and to whom: Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, by Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, and Clyde E. Martin (Saunders, 1948); and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, by Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, Clyde E. Martin, and Paul H. Gebhard (Saunders, 1953). Other useful surveys have been done by Shere Hite (The Hite Report About Female Sexuality, Macmillan, 1976; The Hite Report on Male Sexuality, Knopf, 1981), the editors of Playboy magazine ("Playboy Readers Sex Survey," parts 1 - 5, Playboy, January, March, May, July, October 1983), and the editors of Redbook magazine (The Redbook Report on Female Sexuality, by Carol Tavris and Susan Sadd, Delacorte, 1975). A recent and comprehensive survey is the Janus Report on Sexual Behavior by Samuel and Cynthia Janus (Wiley, 1993).

Likewise, benchmarks for the anatomy and physiology of sex—and what can go wrong—are the equally well-known works of Masters and Johnson: Human Sexual Response, by William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson (Little, Brown, 1966); and Human Sexual Inadequacy, by the same authors (Litlle, Brown, 1970).

Textbooks and Basic Guides

A number of good college-level textbooks on human sexuality are readily available. Most transmit a broadly humanistic set of perspectives about the range of sexual behavior, incorporating biological, psychological, and sociocultural components. As most also provide very basic discussions plus bibliographies and a glossary, they are excellent places for novices to begin a search for sex information. The following list contains some of the most comprehensive and best-known texts:

Sexual Interactions, by Elizabeth R. Allgeier and Albert R. Allgeier (D.C. Heath, 1990)

Becoming a Sexual Person, by Robert T. Francoeur (Macmillan, 1991)

Fundamentals of Human Sexuality, by Herant A. Katchadourian (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1989)

Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving, by William H. Masters, Virginia E. Johnson, and Robert C. Kolodny (Little, Brown, 1988)

Also very good sources of basic physiological and medical information are The New Our Bodies Ourselves, by the Boston Women's Health Collective (Simon & Schuster, 1992); and the older but still useful Men's Bodies, Men's Selves, by Sam Julty (Dell, 1979); Woman's Body: An Owner's Manual, by the Diagram Group (Bantam, 1978); and Man's Body: An Owner's Manual, also by the Diagram Group (Bantam, 1977). In addition, the Diagram Group has produced Sex: A User's Manual (Putnam, 1981), which—while not up-to-date about such issues as AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)—is an excellent summary of data about most aspects of human sexuality and incorporates results of many surveys.


From Dushkin (Guilford, CT) come two regularly updated collections of reprinted articles about sexual issues. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Human Sexuality, edited by Robert T. Francoeur, includes "pro" and "con" pieces on each issue, plus short lists of suggested readings. Issues in the 1991 edition include "Can sex be an addiction?" "Should gay people fight for the right to marry?" and "Is rape motivated by aggression instead of sex?" Human Sexuality, in the Annual Editions Series, edited by Ollie Pocs, includes reprints from mostly popular magazines, covering a wide range of sexual topics (and opinions) within the broad areas of sexuality and society, sexual biology and health, reproduction, relationships, sexuality through the life cycle, and sexual issues. Unfortunately, only a few of the selections have bibliographies; however, a glossary is included.

Books and Other Monographs

Library Catalog
Books in Print
Catalog Ordering Sources

Thousands and thousands of books have been written about sex, and a few thousand more are published each year. Fortunately, the searcher can rely on a variety of bibliographies and other keys to current and retrospective publications.

Library Catalog

The catalog (in card, on-line, or book form) constitutes the subject index to the library's book collection. It is invaluable for library users, but one must be prepared to negotiate unfamiliar webs of index terms and peruse many entries, as the assignment of subject headings to books is likely to have been neither consistent nor comprehensive. Both specific and general terms should be searched—including "sex," which is often used as a catchall. Searchers may want to ask the librarian for the subject heading list in use; it lets one know what one is up against.

Books in Print

Books in Print, Books Out of Print (1983-current), and Forthcoming Books (all from Bowker) are the publishers' and librarians' major guides to what books are, have been, and will be available. All have subject indexes, although not finely tuned. Neither are they fully comprehensive, lacking many "little press" and underground publications. All are available on-line (see data bases, below).


Fortunately, there is a small but valuable number of good bibliographies covering sexuality topics, although keeping up-to-date remains a perpetual problem. These bibliographies include the following:

Studies in Human Sexuality: A Selected Guide, by Suzanne G. Frayser and Thomas J. Whitby (Libraries Unlimited, 1987). Books only, with detailed annotations. A new edition is forthcoming.

Sex Research: Bibliographies from the Institute for Sex Research, by Joan Scherer Brewer and Rod W. Wright (Oryx Press, 1979). Covers both books and periodical articles; complements Frayser and Whitby in covering older materials. No annotations.

Homosexuality: A Research Guide, by Wayne R. Dynes (Garland, 1987). Covers both books and periodical articles. Annotations.

Bibliographies from the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction Information Service (Bloomington, IN). Several hundred topic bibliographies available for purchase; request the complete list. No annotations. All bibliographies are compiled from the Kinsey Institute holdings.

SIECUS bibliographies (Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S.; Mary S. Calderone Library, New York). Fourteen topic bibliographies available, three about HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS; request the SIECUS publications catalog. Annotations.

For erotica, a definitive bibliographic work is The Horn Book, by Gershon Legman (University Books, 1964). See also his opening chapter in Libraries, Erotica, and Pornography, by Martha Cornog (Oryx Press, 1991).

Many more specialized bibliographies are available, some listed in Frayser and Whitby and others in Gay and Lesbian Library Service (see above): for example, Feminists, Pornography, and the Law: An Annotated Bibliography of Conflict, 1970-1986, by Betty-Carol Sellen and Patricia A. Young (Library Professional Publications, 1987); Sex Guides: Books and Films about Sexuality for Young Adults, by Patricia J. Campbell (Garland, 1986); and AIDS Information Sourcebook, by H. Robert Malinowsky and Gerald J. Perry (Oryx Press, 1988). Libraries, Erotica, and Pornography (see above) also contains a number of bibliographies covering libraries, pornography-erotica, and censorship.


Reviews and review articles provide more information than mere bibliography listings. Unfortunately, reviews of materials dealing with sexuality (when they exist at all) are widely scattered, with no central index to make them easily accessible. Book Review Index and Book Review Digest cover some reviews of only some books, particularly those reviewed in library book selection periodicals—that is, mainstream books by well-established presses.

For sex books in specific, most of the periodicals listed in the next section carry book reviews, particularly the SIECUS Report and the Journal of the History of Sexuality. Also helpful for women's issues, including lesbian material, is the Women's Review of Books. A source for review articles about sex is the Annual Review of Sex Research (from SSSS). Topics included in the 1990, inaugural, volume include "Surveys of Heterosexual Behavior," "Physiology and Pathology of Penile Erection," and "Biological Determinants of Sexual Orientation."


Doctoral dissertations are rarely listed in general catalogs, indexes, or bibliographies, but they can be highly valuable in such specialized topic areas as are subsumed within sexuality. The sole access points to dissertations are Dissertation Abstracts and Comprehensive Dissertation Index (print, online, and CD-ROM from University Microfilms).

Since few masters theses and no honors projects are deposited with University Microfilms, it might be worthwhile sometimes to contact the libraries or archives of universities with degree programs in sexuality (see below) to request a search of their research-paper and thesis holdings on a given topic.

Catalog Ordering Sources

A small number of mail-order book distributors specialize in nonfiction sexuality topics. These include:

The Sexuality Library, 1210 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. Catalog lists about 200 books, with annotations, on many aspects of sexuality, including some erotica. Also includes some magazines and videos.

C. J. Scheiner Books, 275 Linden Blvd., B2, Brooklyn, NY 11226. Large catalog including much erotica and many out-of-print works. No annotations.

Ivan Stormgart Books, P.O. Box 1232 GMF, Boston, MA 02205. Antiquarian bookseller specializing in interdisciplinary relationships (sexual behavior and sexology). Large catalog, no annotations.

Giovanni's Room, Mail Order Department, 345 South 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107; Lambda Rising, 1625 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20009. Both of these offer a good selection of nonfiction and fiction on gay and lesbian topics. Newsletter-format catalogs provide annotations.


Indexes and Abstracts
Journals and Magazines

In addition to books, periodicals contain much valuable information for those interested in sex, and the information is often more up-to-date than book coverage.

Indexes and Abstracts

Finding out which periodical articles have been published on which topics generally requires consulting abstracting and indexing (A&I) services, many available in print, on-line, and in CD-ROM form. (See next section for more about data bases.) There are hundreds of A&I services that cover both popular and scholarly periodicals (and sometimes books and other monographs, such as dissertations and government reports). Perhaps the most salient for sex information are the following:


ERIC (education-related topics; covers some materials on children and adolescent sexuality)

Index Medicus (on-line: MEDLINE)

Inventory of Marriage and Family Literature (online: Family Resource Database)

Psychological Abstracts (on-line: PsycINFO)

Sage Family Studies Abstracts

Social Sciences Index

Sociological Abstracts

Women's Studies Abstracts


Alternative Press Index

Magazine Index

National Newspaper Index

New York Times Index

Public Affairs Information Service

Many other possibilities exist in specific subject areas; one should ask a librarian or consult a recent directory of data bases (see next section).

Several past indexes have treated sexuality specifically, notably Sex Studies Index (G.K. Hall, 1980-81) and Current Research Updates: Human Sexuality (CRU Publishing, 1983-1986?). However, to the author's knowledge, neither of these has continued. Neither has there appeared an index to popular sex periodicals, as envisioned, regretfully, by Sanford Berman in his article "If There Were a Sex Index..." (1981). Consult Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory to find out which indexes cover which periodicals.

Journals and Magazines

One can browse the core sex journals, which - fortunately or unfortunately - make up a relatively short list:

Archives of Sexual Behavior

Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy

Journal of Homosexuality

Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality

Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy

Journal of Sex Education and Therapy

Journal of Sex Research

Journal of Social Work and Human Sexuality

Journal of the History of Sexuality

Maledicta (language)

Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality

Sex Roles

Sexuality and Disability


Major popular magazines with sexually oriented nonfiction and sometimes fiction include:


Frighten the Horses





Yellow Silk (entirely literary)

Major popular gay and lesbian periodicals include (there remains considerable turnover with old publications ceasing and new ones appearing):

Advocate (Los Angeles newspaper)

Bad Attitude (erotica for lesbians)

Blade (Washington, D.C. newspaper)

On Our Backs (erotica for lesbians)

Gayellow Pages, Gaia's Guide, and Gay and Lesbian, Library Service (see above) all include listings of gay newspapers nationwide. Current addresses and descriptive information about these and many other sex-related periodicals may be found in:
Ulrich 's International Periodicals Directory (Bowker)

Gale Directory of Publications and Broadcast Media (Gale)

International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses (Dustbooks)

The Standard Periodical Directory (Oxbridge)

Newsletters in Print (Gale)

Oxbridge Directory of Newsletters (Oxbridge)

Many of these list homosexuality-oriented publications in a separate section. However, the subject indexing in most ranges from passable to abysmal, making them hard to use for sources of periodical titles on a subject other than homosexuality. To its credit, the Standard Periodical Directory index does have a "sex" section that includes many scholarly journals as well as some of the popular magazines; the International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses has an outstanding section on sex in its index, making it quite usable as a selection tool. However, most other directories, including Ulrich's, lump the popular sex magazines under "men's magazines" and scatter the scholarly journals among the various subject disciplines without pulling them together under "sex" in an index or anywhere else. A comprehensive guide to underground "zines" and "little magazines" is the irregular periodical Factsheet Five, with "sex" and "queer" [sic] sections.

Data Bases

On-line data bases can provide a fast way of finding information from many periodicals over a long time span. The major abstracting and indexing services mentioned in the previous section are also available on-line or on CD-ROM, and many academic, and some public, libraries will provide searching for a fee (sometimes searches are free).

A few other data bases are ends in themselves for sexuality information:

Comprehensive Core Medical Library (BRS; McLean, VA)—provides complete text of selected medical reference works and textbooks, plus over 80 medical journals.

Data Archive on Adolescent Pregnancy and Pregnancy Prevention (Sociometrics; Los Altos, ÇA) —original data and text from research studies.

MEDIS (Mead Data Central; Dayton, OH)—complete text of selected journals and textbooks in medicine, plus gateway to other medical data bases.

NEXIS (Mead Data Central; Dayton, OH)—complete text of a large number of popular periodicals.

Research Data Archive of Sexual Behavior (Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction—see libraries, below)—full text of sexual behavior case histories.

Human Sexuality (Clinical Communications Shady, NY; available on CompuServe)—full text of articles and interviews with experts, plus question-and-answer service, bulletin boards, and on-line conferencing. Not all libraries have access to CompuServe, but anyone with access to a PC can get a user account relatively inexpensively.

Sexual Harassment: Employer Policies and Problems (BNA; Washington, DC)—full text of policies, procedures, education and training programs, and experiences of organizations in handling complaints; too expensive for many libraries but has a corresponding print product that might be found in some law libraries.

A number of AIDS information data bases also exist, providing references (indexes and abstracts), full text, or original data.

The best reference work for identifying data bases of all kinds is the Gale Directory of Computer Databases (Gale Research). It is large and comprehensive, it has a good index - and, one hopes, it may be found in many libraries.

Conference Papers

Scholars and other professionals working in sexuality, as in other fields, get together at conferences to exchange information about trends and work in progress. Such information, which is presented orally, constitutes the "conference paper." Conference papers can be tedious rehashes of received wisdom or can narrate fascinating breakthroughs in critical areas of interest.

One can get at conference papers in several ways:

1. Attend the conference. Pick an organization in one's area (see organizations, below), request a preliminary program for an upcoming conference, register, and attend. This is expensive, but if the organization and the program are of high interest, the information can be invaluable. Professionals nearly invariably employ this route.

2. Request conference papers from their authors. Pick an organization, request the preliminary program for an upcoming conference, and select those presentations of interest. Then write or call the presenters to request a printed version. This may be less than effective because (a) there may not be a printed version, or (b) the presenter may not fulfill the request. However, it is worth trying when one does not want to attend a meeting but finds a few presentations of high interest. (Requests can be sent to presenters in care of the organization, or one may call the organization and ask for contact information or a membership directory.)

3. Purchase tapes. Some organizations have their conferences taped and then sell the tapes of individual sessions. Call the organization and ask.

Conference papers are listed in very few A&I services; one is Index to Social Sciences and Humanities Proceedings. However, sometimes they can be found in bibliographies of articles and books.


Films about sexuality include the so-called "adult" films as well as films made for purposes of sex education and professional training. An excellent source of reviews and access information on adult films on videotape is Robert Rimmer's The X-Rated Videotape Guide (vol. 1, Harmony Books, 1986; vols. 2 and 3, Prometheus Books, 1991, 1993). For sex education and training audiovisuals, two good sources are "Audio-visuals for Sexuality Professionals: A Selected Bibliography" (with addendum) from the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), and the catalog of Focus International, a distributor of audiovisuals for sex education, research, and therapy (14 Oregon Drive, Huntington Station, NY 11746-2627). In addition, the Sexuality Library (see address above) sells some erotic tapes and a few for sex education.


Professional Associations
Advocacy and Common-Interest Organizations
Organizations Addressing a Specific Disease or Problem
Self-Help Organizations
Research Centers
Libraries with Collections on Sexual Topics
Universities Granting Degrees in Sexology and Related Programs

Many people do not think of going to organizations when they need information, but that would be a serious mistake. The United States has thousands of organizations concerned with every conceivable issue, including sexual issues. Nearly all these organizations provide information: pamphlets, membership lists, bibliographies, library services, hotlines, referrals, meetings, speakers bureaus, lobbying, periodicals, books, and other publications - many services are free or at minimal charge. Organizations are also sources of experts and aficionados of almost any subject.

The guidebook for up-to-date access to many (not all) of these organizations is the Encyclopedia of Associations (EoA; Gale Research). In three volumes covering 30, 000 organizations as of 1991, it may be found in virtually every library. EoA has an excellent keyword index; however, although there are cross-references among entries in the text, none appear in the index. Thus the user searching under "rape," say, must remember also to look under "sexual abuse"; for "abortion," also under "family planning" and "right to life." Because the EoA has the most up-to-date addresses and telephone numbers for its 30, 000 organizations, no contact information is included in this article.

According to the 1991 EoA, at least 250 U.S. organizations have as a major focus some aspect of sexuality. Nearly half of these are concerned with gay and lesbian interests; others address just about any other sexual issue one could think of: AIDS; family planning; impotence; nudism; pornography; prostitution; sexual addiction; sexual abuse and rape; sexual freedom for interests other than gays and lesbians, including transvestites, transsexuals, nonmonogamists, and leather fetishists; and sexual health.

These groups fall into several major types:

Professional associations of practitioners or researchers, in sexuality in general or a particular specialty

Advocacy or common-interest organizations promoting or supporting a particular viewpoint or behavior, including the opportunity for members to meet like-minded individuals

Organizations for both professionals and other concerned individuals promoting research, treatment, and public education about a specific disease or social problem

Self-help organizations, for mutual support among those with self-defined problems

Naturally, some groups fall into more than one category, and some sexual issues have produced organizations in every category: there are groups studying homosexuality, groups for gays and lesbians promoting gay interests, groups working against homosexuality, support groups for gay people who want to give up their homosexual behavior, and support groups for spouses and relatives of gays and lesbians.

In addition to these categories, one might add research centers, libraries with noteworthy collections in sexuality, and universities (and other organizations) offering training programs in sexology. These are dealt with separately below.

Professional Associations

Three major professional groups dominate sexology. The Society for the Scientific Study of Sex (SSSS), founded in 1957, is the oldest; its 1, 000 members come from all disciplines but focus on research. The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), younger (founded 1967) but larger (3, 100 members), focuses on training and accrediting its members and other professionals. Finally, the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), founded in 1964 and comprising 3, 600 members, promotes sex education in all contexts and supports professional training in sex education.

Several dozen other groups are oriented to various types of professionals concerned with sexuality. Some examples include:

Association for the Behavioral Treatment of Sexual Abusers

Association of Nurses in AIDS Care Association of Lesbian and Gay Psychologists

Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian and Gay Issues

Society for the Study of Social Problems

Check the EoA for others.

Advocacy and Common-Interest Organizations

At least 100 U.S. organizations deal in one way or another with advocacy for gay and lesbian viewpoints or merely provide a vehicle for the gay and lesbian practitioners of a profession or hobby to socialize or work together. These range from the largest and most comprehensive—the National Gay Rights Advocates, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, each with 15, 000 or more members-contributors and a budget in the millions of dollars—to smaller special-interest groups such as these:

Federal Lesbians and Gays (federal government workers)

International Gay Travel Association

Lesbian and Gay Bands of America

Good Gay Poets

Para-Amps (handicapped gays)

Girth and Mirth (overweight gay men)

Gay and Lesbian History on Stamps Club

Similar organizations exist for many sexual viewpoints and behaviors other than homosexuality. An all-too-brief sampling from the EoA:

American Sunbathing Association (nudism)

Adult Video Association (pro-pornography/erotica)

North American Swing Club Association (recreational nonmonogamy)

National Leather Association (leather/S&M aficionados)

National Task Force on Prostitution (pro-prostitution, formerly COYOTE)

Society for the Second Self (transvestites)

Many sexual groups of this type are not listed in the EoA; one locates them by reading widely in the particular area, especially newsletters, and cultivating informants. A few of those with addresses are:

Club Latexa (rubber fetishists), Centurian, P.O. Box AE, Westminster, CA 92683

Janus (bisexuals), P.O. Box 6794, San Francisco, CA 94101

SAMOIS (lesbian S&M), P.O. Box 2364, Berkeley, CA 94702

The Kinsey Institute receives many newsletters from these kinds of organizations and can supply addresses.

Organizations Addressing a Specific Disease or Problem

These organizations are the inverse of the ones above: groups working not to promote but to eradicate something. The majority are concerned either with AIDS—perhaps the largest being the Gay Men's Health Crisis—or with right to life, that is, against abortion. Others include:

Impotence Institute of America

Society's League Against Molestation (child sexual abuse)

National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape

Women Against Pornography

A number of what the EoA terms "conservative traditionalist" organizations also work against a number of sexual behaviors and issues, typically homosexuality, pornography, and sex education, e.q.:
American Coalition for Traditional Values
Americans for Decency
Christian Voice

Self-Help Organizations

Such organizations also want to eradicate something—but through the particular vehicle of setting up support groups and regular meetings for individuals afflicted with a problem. The granddaddy of this approach is, of course, Alcoholics Anonymous, with thousands of near-clones for other diseases and social problems. Some in the sexual area are:

Homosexuals Anonymous Fellowship Services (gays and lesbians wishing to become heterosexual)

Impotents Anonymous

People with AIDS Coalition

Sexaholics Anonymous

Women Exploited by Abortion

Research Centers

Research centers are not membership organizations but nonprofit concerns, often affiliated with universities. The Research Centers Directory (Gale Research) lists, for example, 19 such centers with a focus on birth control, 9 for marriage, 37 for human reproduction, and nearly 70 for various other topics listed under "sex." A few examples:

Center for Population Options

Marriage Council of Philadelphia (affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine)

San Francisco State University Center for Research and Education in Sexuality

Yale University Lesbian and Gay Studies Center

Research centers provide a variety of services, usually including publications reporting research results as well as educational seminars.

Libraries with Collections on Sexual Topics

One might imagine that the best solution to one's need for sexuality information would be to find a library specializing in sex, where the librarians are knowledgeable, completely unflappable, and can spell "Krafft-Ebing" and "limerence" correctly. The largest and best known sexuality libraries are those of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction; SIECUS; the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (New York City and local affiliates); and the Vern and Bonnie Bullough collection, California State University, Northridge. There are other such places, however, perhaps more than one might expect.

The major reference source for special-topic library holdings is the Directory of Special Libraries and Information Centers (Gale Research), available in most libraries. The index to the 1991 edition lists 22 libraries under topics beginning with "sex," 36 under homosexuality-lesbianism, 35 under birth control, 16 under abortion, and 17 under acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

Other sources listing libraries with sex-related collections include:

Alternative Lifestyles: A Guide to Research Collections on Intentional Communities, Nudism, and Sexual Freedom, by Jefferson P. Selth (Greenwood Press, 1985)—lists and describes six collections on nudism and 18 on "sexual freedom."

"Directories of Special Collections on Social Movements Evolving from the Vietnam Era, " by Ellen Embardo (Reference Services Review, Fall 1990)—includes listing and description of 15 gay and lesbian collections.

Directory of the International Association of Lesbian and Cay Archives and Libraries, compiled by Alan V. Miller (International Association of Lesbian and Gay Archives and Libraries, 1978).

Gay/Lesbian Archives and Libraries in North America (American Library Association Gay and Lesbian Task Force Library Information Clearinghouse, 1989)

Libraries, Erotica, and Pornography, edited by Martha Cornog (Oryx Press, 1991)— see "Erotica Research Collections," by Gwendolyn Pershing, and "Homosexuality Research Collections," by Daniel C. Tsang.

North American gay and lesbian collections are also listed in the Gayellow Pages, Gaia's Guide, and Gay and Lesbian Library Service (see above).

Universities Granting Degrees in Sexology and Related Programs

One can satisfy one's information needs about sexuality by enlisting in an education program. A list of 24 U.S. and 16 foreign programs in sex education, counseling, and therapy may be obtained on request from SSSS, P.O. Box 208, Mt. Vernon, IA 52314.


Finally, we come to people—the ultimate source of all information on any subject. To the individual seeking information about sexuality, people sources come in one or a combination of three types: providers of data, colleagues, and experts.

Many researchers seeking subjects for interviews or for questionnaire studies can use random samples of the general public or (especially) college students near at hand. However, those seeking groups more specialized in terms of sexual interests can often locate subjects through some of the organizations referred to above or by taking out an advertisement in newsletters of these organizations or in other periodicals. (Researchers affiliated with universities or other institutions must take care to follow the appropriate organizational guidelines for studies on human subjects.)

Colleagues and experts in the study of sexuality may be found by joining SSSS or AASECT, as appropriate. (Applicants for these and other professional associations may be asked to provide supporting credentials, such as one's curriculum vitae or résumé and one's research interests.) Both SSSS and AASECT publish directories of members, although research interests are not indicated therein. One directory that does give considerable information about the background and interests of its listées is International Who's Who in Sexology, edited by Fernando Bianco, Loretta Haroian, and Gorm Wagner (Specific Press, Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, 1986). However, it is fast becoming out-of-date and, moreover, has no subject index. A surer and faster route to experts is to seek key books and papers on one's topic and then contact the authors through the publisher of the book or journal, or via the affiliation provided in the "about the author" description.

It is likely that sex information in the near future will only expand, as sexual issues—such as sexual harassment, child sexual abuse, new birth technologies, abortion, and AIDS—continue to occupy the spotlight of media attention and public debate. While a large underground literature will continue to flourish, the mainstream sources will, it is hoped, become more complete and organized to respond to public and professional needs for information. Already, the access tools to AIDS information have expanded to include more than 40 bibliographies and 14 serials (as listed in Gay and Lesbian Library Service) all appearing since 1980.

Thus, pathways to sexuality information, while many and devious, are becoming well enough trodden that truly competent maps can be developed. Researchers and librarians may struggle with access currently, but in the next few decades the task is likely to become somewhat easier.


Ashley, L.R.N. Sexual Slang: Prostitutes, Pedophiles, Flagellators, Transvestites and Necrophiliacs. Maledicta, Vol. 9 (1986), pp. 143-98.

Berkman, R.I. Find It Fast. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.

Berman, S. 1981. If There Were a Sex Index.... In P. Gellatly, ed. Sex Magazines in the Library Collection. New York: Haworth Press, 1981.

Kirby, R. No Checks Please, Cash Only: A Critical Glance at Zines. Equal Time, Nos. 16 - 17 (June 7 - June 21, 1991).

Martha Cornog

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