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Seeking information: Archive & Library of Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality

 ·   ·  β˜• 9 min read

I am interested in any information pertaining to the library or archive of “Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.” The existence of the archive has been reported in a number of different sources.

In an essay in Libraries, Erotica & Pornography (1991) Gwendolyn Pershing cites Elaini Garnder, a librarian at the Institute who claims that the Institute has a “large collection” of materials including a book in Italian written in the 1400s (Boccaccio? Pietro Aretino?), original de Sade, art, pulp, My Secret Life, and contains 107,000 items and 300,000 slides and photographs. Pershing reports that this is from a telephone call and that anyone is welcome to use the collection with proper excuse.

The 2006 Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature comments that:

Second in potential are the erotica collections of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, which has followed an admirable policy of gathering chiefly modern ephemeral publications before they could be lost. The success of the strategy, however, has resulted in prolonged storage of thousands of uncatalogued materials literally in warehouses in widely dispersed locations. Eventually, students at the Institute, which grants graduate degrees in sexology, will get around to identifying and indexing these large, far-flung archives

But it lists Clifford J. Scheiner of Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality as an advisor to the publication β€” that name leads to a former Brooklyn MD who was reported to have a massive collection of pornography by the NY Daily News in 2011, but nothing further. (Update: Dr. Scheiner got in touch with me, and he reports that he is not a former MD at all, but is still practicing. He does not know anything about the IASHS archives currently but says they are invaluable!)

Peter Alilunas also mentions them in Smutty Little Movies (2016) but seems to be linking back to Linda Williams (2004) in Porn Studies. She credits them with help on “the films and much-needed historical information on producers, venues, and collateral industries such as magazine publishing and sex toy manufacturing” and links to another defunct website and an email address of β€” which doesn’t seem to go much of anywhere. The description says

the institute is not open to the public, but scholars or students with research needs may send requests and view some works on the premises. Audiovisual material ranges from 8 mm and 16 mm features to recent videos. Unfortunately, the institute has been slow to catalogue materials.

Finally, Tim Dean, David Squires and Steven Ruszczycky include it in their Porn Archives (2014) index, but it more or less matches the above.

A yelp page has reviews reporting that this is a diploma mill in one comment and then a second one is someone from the institute linking to which goes to the above URL and then 404’s as well. There’s also this blog post recommending that if someone finds out their therapist is from the IASHS that they should run the other way. [UPDATE: This information seems to be inaccurate. Please see below for information from IASHS Alumni]

Search results and the Wikipedia page for the IASHS seems to have been edited by people belonging to the institution and people who are virulently against the institution. The Wikipedia page links to but the link is dead. Surfing through that link in the Wayback machine shows that they posted an update in June of 2015 advising the accreditation plan had been accepted, but nothing further.

As the Wikipedia page notes,

The Institute was not accredited. The Institute’s FAQ page, in response to the question “Is the Institute an accredited academic institution?", stated that the Institute was approved by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). However, the BPPE is not an accrediting agency; the agency’s main focus is on identifying diploma mills.In July 2014, the BPPE sent a Notice to Comply to IASHS regarding several violations. In early 2016, the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education sent a Citation: Assessment of Fine and Order of Abatement to IASHS, for seven violations. As of September 2014, IASHS was required by CA SB1247 to seek and obtain accreditation. Quackwatch identifies the Institute as a “Questionable Organization”. Students at unaccredited institutions are never eligible for financial aid, including student loans, through any government agency. In some states, it can be illegal to use a degree from an unaccredited institution, unless approved by the state licensing agency.

So there is definitely something going on there. A facebook page is in existence but links to (again) dead websites and also seems to be maintained by someone associated with the institution, but is unclear as the moderator has changed hands a number of times.

The Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, which was published by the IASHS and is still up here but apparently received no submissions in 2015 and was shut down because “their mission was complete”. The founder of that publication was David S. Hall, PhD, and his site links to a defunct university, a bare-bones resume that puts him on the faculty of the IASHS.

Emails and phone calls to the IASHS by me have ended in dead ends.

So my final question is–surely this collection must exist somewhere, right? It couldn’t be present in all of these texts and books and contain hundreds of thousands of items and not be real.

Am I going a bit crazy here or is there something confusing about this massive collection, supposedly only second to the Kinsey Institutes?

**updates 1-29: 1-31: 2-3:

  • Doctor Clifford J. Scheiner. It turns out he has been quite active on Ex-Libris and I completely missed that fact! We got in touch and he assured me he was still a practicing doctor (so the NYDN article was not clear at all) and that the IASHS collection is not his. He put me in touch with the widow of the founder/owner of the IASHS collection.
  • Dr. Marty Klein, who attended the IASHS replied to let me know that the IASHS was not a diploma mill and had some big figures on it’s staff previously, that Ted McIlvenna died in August of 2018, that the IASHS name had been sold to a Chinese company. Here’s an article on the IASHS and China:
  • Here’s a bit of biographical info on the IASHS’ founder:
  • Here is IASHS’s last course catalog.
  • McIlvenna tried to donate the collection to the British Museum at one point:
  • The IASHS and the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas had a business arrangement at one point but it later soured:
    • From what I understand the IASHS and the Erotic Heritage Museum did have some sort of agreement for a couple years and then there was a very negative public falling-out due to an (alleged affair) between the EHM’s curator and the IASHS’ founder. source 1 and two.
    • When I last contacted the EHM to inquire about doing a internship there (as I am in library school) they said that they weren’t doing anything with archives because of lack of funding–but treat that as hearsay as I cannot find the email from them.
  • According to a defunct IASHS website, Ivan Stormgart DHS, an erotica dealer, of was listed as an Archivist at one point, but does not seem to be the owner of the IASHS’ collection. Update: see below.
  • According to Bolerium books (!!!!)
    • According to my understanding, the core of their archive recently went to Harvard. The material Harvard didn’t want, like recent books that would have been duplicates, have been dispersed over recent weeks. A young book scout brought us a few of them the other day, which he had picked up in a sale. He’s the one who told me Harvard had acquired the good stuff. I have followed up with Harvard to confirm.
  • Update 2-1-19: Harvard replied today:
    • I’m afraid I have no knowledge of the location of Archives and Library of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. You were probably referred here because we do have on long-term deposit the Ludlow-Santo Domingo (LSD) Library, which contains quite a lot of sex-related material. There’s an overview on our website: have also recently acquired, in collaboration with Schlesinger Library here, the collections of the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco. These are still arriving, and I cannot predict how long it will take to make them available for research.
  • Updates 2-3-19: Marty Klein and Cynthia Ann Moya have both taken exception to the characterizations of the IASHS above. In the interest of full transparency I want to document what they have told me–and want to be clear that I didn’t intend any slighting of the IASHS, I was starting from scratch with no knowledge of it.
    • Dr Klein writes: it was not a diploma mill. rather, it accepted a wide range of students, some of whom are internationally-known sexologists, while others never developed what we might think of as doctoral-level academic or research skills. over the years, its faculty included many highly accomplished sexologists such as wardell pomeroy, loretta haroian, charles moser, and erwin haberle. * it was–and remains–the only american institution to award a phd in sexology. that, plus its extensive collection of erotica, guaranteed that it would attract the scrutiny and disdain of the american academic bureaucracy, including accrediting agencies.
    • Dr Moya writes: [other] institutions would, first and foremost, limit the way Institute students and faculty could possibly study sexuality. This is certainly what I found at the academy, at the university β€” you can study affects of sexuality (like diseases or jealousy), or do tick-box surveys on cheating or pornography use or something like that β€” but the closer you get to the acts of sex and love, the more you can’t study it. What would the Regents say? It [was] different at the Institute. A student could get as close to sex as they wanted, and could write about it. Or not. Sure, there were probably some people who took advantage of the Institute’s lenience to skate through and then claim a PhD. Just like there may be some institute-trained sexologists who try to practice psychiatry without a license. But the people I studied with were very serious. Most often medical doctors, nurses, clergy, psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers β€” all trying to add real understanding of what people do sexually and how they feel about it to their professional helping repertoire. I also went to school with filmmakers, porn stars, English majors, refugees, independent artists, historians…. a great range. I studied there as an early-minted MLIS, and took my education very seriously. The classes were very provocative; I thought I knew a lot about sex but was blown away every single day with the things I learned in my Institute training
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Brian M. Watson
Brian M. Watson
Archivist, Historian, Digital Humanist