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Harry Benjamin. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02717).

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Benjamin, Harry (12 January 1885–24 August 1986), physician, endocrinologist, and sex researcher, was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Julius Benjamin, a banker, and Bertha Hoffman. He became interested in human sexuality at the age of twenty, when he read August Forel’s ...

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Dickinson, Robert Latou (21 February 1861–29 November 1950), gynecologist and sexologist, was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of Horace Dickinson, a hat manufacturer, and Jeannette Latou. During Dickinson’s childhood the family business was located in Brooklyn, New York, where the Dickinsons and Latous were civic and cultural leaders. Dickinson enjoyed a privileged childhood in Brooklyn Heights, with summers on an uncle’s Connecticut farm. When he was twelve, his father took the family to Europe for four years, during which the children were privately tutored and attended schools in Switzerland and Germany. The Dickinsons returned to the United States in 1876. Robert entered Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and completed the equivalent of the last years of high school in 1879....

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Dollard, John (29 August 1900–08 October 1980), psychologist and sociologist, was born in Menasha, Wisconsin, the son of James Dollard, a railroad engineer, and Ellen Brady, a former schoolteacher. Following his service as a private in the U.S. Army during the First World War, Dollard attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he studied commerce and English and earned his B.A. in 1922. At Wisconsin, Dollard met the physicist ...

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Faris, Ellsworth (30 September 1874–19 December 1953), social psychologist and sociologist, was born in Salem, Tennessee, the son of George Alexander Faris and Sophie Yarborough. Faris attended Texas Christian University (known at the time as Add-Ran University and then located in Waco), where he received a B.A. in 1894 and an M.A. in 1896. After completing his studies in civil engineering, he became a missionary in the Belgian Congo under the auspices of the Foreign Christian Missionary Society of the Disciples of Christ. He remained there for seven years, with an interlude of study at the University of Chicago in 1901–1902. While in Chicago, he married Elizabeth Homan in October 1901. She accompanied him to the Congo, where they remained until his ill health forced a return to the United States for good in 1904....

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Johnson, Virginia E. (11 Feb. 1925–24 July 2013), sex researcher and sex therapist, was born Mary Virginia Eshelman to Hershel “Harry” Eshelman and Edna Evans Eshelman in Springfield, Missouri. Her father fought in World War I and her mother was a teacher. The couple settled in Springfield to farm after the war. In ...

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Lazarsfeld, Paul Felix (13 February 1901–30 August 1976), psychologist and sociologist, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Robert Lazarsfeld, a lawyer, and Sofie Munk, an Adlerian psychotherapist. Through his mother’s friendship with the socialist activist Friedrich Adler—unrelated to the psychologist Alfred Adler...

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Likert, Rensis (05 August 1903–03 September 1981), social scientist, was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the son of George Herbert Likert, an engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad, and Cornelia Zonne, a former teacher. After spending several years as a civil engineering student, Likert received his bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of Michigan in 1926. He then enrolled at Columbia University, from which he received a Ph.D. in psychology in 1932. In 1928 he married Charlotte Jane Gibson, with whom he had two children....

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William Howell Masters 12 Feb. 1971. Courtesy of AP Images.

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Masters, William Howell (27 December 1915–16 February 2001), physician, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Francis W. Masters and Estabrooks Taylor Masters. Details of his family background are unknown beyond the fact that Masters grew up in comfortable financial circumstances. Young Masters attended school in Kansas City, Missouri. At fourteen he was sent to board at Lawrenceville, a noted preparatory school in New Jersey. Upon graduation he entered Hamilton College in the fall of 1934. Masters was an excellent student, specializing in science; he was also a skilled debater and a proficient and versatile athlete, active on varsity teams in football, baseball, basketball, and track. After receiving a B.S. degree with honors in 1938, Masters enrolled at the University of Rochester Medical School. In his first year he came under the influence of his anatomy professor, ...

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Pruette, Lorine Livingston (3 Nov. 1896–20 Dec. 1976), psychologist, social scientist, and feminist, was born in Millersburg, Tennessee to Eulalia Miller Pruette, a former schoolteacher, and Oscar Davis Pruette, a gentleman farmer. Raised a daughter of the South, Pruette spent her first five years in a small cottage on one hundred acres where her father raised pigs, hens, cattle, and horses. This first home was isolated and rural, and her parents’ marriage was contentious. Pruette later recalled her childhood as lonely and described herself as “the odd ball” (Trigg, p. 37)....