Kinsey and the Wasps: Mapping a Journey
Part Three, in Which Kinsey (and His Maps?) Find a Home at Indiana University
Kinsey had wowed his Harvard mentor and thesis adviser, the freewheeling William Morton Wheeler, so completely that the latter took it upon himself to land Kinsey some choice opportunities. The first was a Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, awarded for the year 1919-1920, that Kinsey received largely due to Wheeler’s influence. The fellowship allowed Kinsey, an Eagle Scout, to spend a year doing field work across the United States, an experience he took to immediately:
“Collecting in remote areas required superior outdoor skills, courage, and self-reliance, and Kinsey possessed each in full measure….wearing khaki, getting close to nature, surviving in the wild, meeting people from different backgrounds, and dealing with them in their own habitats—these were experiences no bench scientist could expect to know….For a man with his interests, taxonomic entomology was the right choice.”1
While Kinsey was on his life-changing Sheldon Fellowship journey, Wheeler discovered that there was a job opening in the Zoology Department at Indiana University in Bloomington. He essentially convinced IU to hire Kinsey based on his recommendation, because he could not directly reach Kinsey, whose exact whereabouts were unknown at the time. Once Kinsey resurfaced, he was met with the news that a job was basically being held open for him, thanks to Wheeler. He interviewed at IU in May, 1920, and started work on August 1st. Starting salary: $2,000/yr.2
The arrival of Kinsey’s handmade and annotated maps at Indiana University is more difficult to discern. It seems likely that his original research documents would have moved with him when he arrived. However, many of the maps and charts that appear in his main research volume, The Gall Wasp Genus Cynips: A Study in the Origin of Species, are not among those currently housed in the map collection at Wells Library. Tracing the maps’ journey is one of the long-term goals of this project.
1Jones, James H. Alfred C. Kinsey : a Public/Private Life. 1st ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1997, p. 150-1.
2Ibid., p. 155.
Heather Sloan is an ILS Master’s student with a specialization in Digital Humanities. She is a full-time staff member in the Media Services and Government Information, Maps & Microform Services (GIMMS) departments of Herman B Wells Library. She has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Percussion Performance from SUNY Stony Brook, and her interests include Caribbean folkloric music, Latin music, record collecting, and design in popular culture. Her Digital Humanities work focuses on intersections between digital and humanitarian mapping, the environment, and arts advocacy. She is a 2019-2020 HASTAC Scholar.