- Historic Sites
The Mosher Report
The sexual habits of American women, examined half a century before Kinsey
June/july 1981 | Volume 32, Issue 4
On April 16,1926, she wrote her “friend”: “I have given up ever finding you. I have tried out all my friends and they have not measured up to my dreams. They still are friends, and their friendships give joy and richness to my life but I cannot share my dreamland with them. I wander alone there and show the world my prose, my common sense. But I keep normal and wholesome by going ever alone in this land of dreams. It would not take long to be as drab as most of my contemporaries were it not for this land of dreams.”
By 1926 Mosher seems to have resolved many of her problems. As retirement approached, she threw herself into the project of her dream house, which was a “thrill and joy” for her. She had hopes that its peace and beauty, and her happiness there, would inspire young women who needed help in holding on to their intellectual aspirations.
In October of 1926, contemplating moving in, she looked forward with hope: “Can one go on being a balanced, sane person with only the casual companionship of one’s acquaintances, or is a certain give and take of daily companionship necessary to keep one at one’s best: Who knows? Anyway, I am going to try it.… I look forward joyously to my solitary future, rich in the beauty of my surroundings.”
On the whole, Mosher seems to have resolved her problems. Her papers from 1932 include the beginning of an autobiography to be called The Autobiography of a Happy Old Woman . In that year, too, she wrote a joyful and lyrical description of the special beauty of that California spring.
The wide gulf between Clelia Mosher’s inner self and the face she presented to the world is striking. The lonely romantic of these letters is the same efficient, dedicated woman who, as doctor and researcher, pioneered the destruction of sexual myths, celebrated the emotional and physical strength of women, and left us with a remarkable survey of Victorian sexuality.