British sex archives

At first glance at the newspaper version I was only surprised by one statistic; “one in five men had homosexual experiences”. That seems a little bit high but it would depend on the exact question asked. Other bits of information include:

“Materials in our archive range from holiday makers enjoying themselves on the beach at Blackpool to the experiences of the Second World War when many people, fearing they may not survive the war, were more sexually active,” she said.

Despite the taboos of the time, the 1949 sex survey, originally meant for national newspapers but never published due to its content, found one in five men had homosexual experiences and a quarter admitted to having sex with prostitutes. One in five women confessed to extra-marital affairs.

Alan Crosby, a historian at Liverpool University, said the archives also show how attitudes to sex crimes have changed.

“Sexual offences in the past were recognized as serious crimes, just as they are today,” he said, but the punishment system was very different.

Documents detail how a man convicted of a sex crime in northern English town in 1630 was punished by being paraded through the streets and humiliated in front of fellow citizens.