Human Growth (1947)

12 Jun

Human Growth (20 min., sound, color) is credited as the first sex education film for junior high school students shown in U.S. public schools. In the 1940s, the Oregon-based E.C. Brown Trust was seeking ways to fulfill its mission and spend its endowment, and this film was the result. Dr. Lester F. Beck wrote the script and supervised the production. The Trust hired Eddie Albert Productions to produce the film, and Sy Wexler directed. Known as “the Oregon film,” it was widely acclaimed, and won numerous awards. At its peak of popularity, there were nearly 2,000 prints in circulation. Now it is extremely rare, although it is now available online on the University of Oregon Libraries website.

We’ve come to expect our vintage sex ed films to be campy and hilarious, but Human Growth takes a calm and sensible approach to this controversial topic. It exemplifies the progressive values of Lester Beck and the E.C. Brown Trust, demonstrating how parents and teachers can talk to kids about human reproduction and puberty without embarrassment or giggliness, or by using “the love life of a worm,” as Beck said. The Oregonian newspaper summed it up this way: “No birds, no bees, no moralizing.”



One Response to “Human Growth (1947)”


  1. Human Growth 3rd Ed. (1976) « 16mm Lost & Found - June 14, 2012

    […] own the first and second edition of Human Growth as well at the University of Oregon archives and […]

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