ICOHTEC’s article prize, the Maurice Daumas Prize, has been awarded for the fourth time. The committee distributed the call widely during Fall 2013 and by the deadline of January 2014, had received 47 articles for consideration. This number was higher than last year (35 submissions), and nearly double the submissions of 2011, the first year the prize was offered. The overall quality of articles was impressive and judging a single winner became quite a challenge for the committee.

The prize committee for 2014 consisted of Professor Susan Schmidt Horning, Chair, USA; Dr. Andrew J. Butrica, USA; Dr. Hermione Giffard, The Netherlands; Professor Pierre Lamard, France; and Dr. Patrice Bret, France. After many hours of reading and deliberating, the committee decided to award the Daumas Prize to Donna J. Drucker for her article, “Keying Desire: Alfred Kinsey’s Use of Punched Card Machines for Sex Research.”

Donna J. Drucker is Visiting Assistant Professor at Technische Universität Darmstadt. Her teaching and research interests intersect at the history of science and technology and history of gender and sexuality. Her article, which explores mid-twentieth century quantitative analysis in sex research by the use of punched-card machines and how the results of that research affected broader social debates, was published in the Journal of the History of Sexuality in 2013.

“Keying Desire” tells the story of how sex researcher Alfred Kinsey applied quantitative research methodology through the use of punched-card machines to analyze the interview data he collected regarding human sexual behaviour. By highlighting “the role of technology and mass-produced data in the classification, analysis, and dissemination of sexual knowledge” (106), Drucker’s article challenges the accepted notion that mid-twentieth-century technologies of classification symbolized a dehumanizing trend in an increasingly mechanized world. Kinsey’s research methods were groundbreaking in many respects, but the “key” to his ability to analyze and process the massive data he had collected was the punched-card machines. The result of this analysis was a body of information that, Drucker argues, laid key groundwork for gay and lesbian civil rights. What we found most compelling and innovative about this article was how it opens doors to major questions about how technology shapes understanding of the human condition. The article also explores the relatively unexplored connection between the histories of technology, sexuality, and gender.


24 August 2014