The First Responses

Two donors, four moms, a possible hoax, many promising stories.

Click here for the editor’s explanatory introduction to this new Slate feature.

Lots of readers want to know what kind of response Slate has gotten to the “Seed” experiment so far. In case you missed it, here is the piece introducing the project, an effort to find the parents, children, and donors involved with the Repository for Germinal Choice, the “Nobel Prize” sperm bank started by Robert Graham in the late ‘70s.

The short answer: The Internet works, and so does anonymity. Thanks to the Net’s incredible speed and enormous reach, we have heard from lots of people already. Thanks to the veil of privacy, we’re hearing from people who otherwise never would have discussed this.


Last night, we posted an interview with a repository donor, “The Entrepreneur,” who describes how Graham and his own girlfriend guilted him into donating sperm and tells why he doesn’t ever think about his repository kids. Today we publish very interesting letters from two anonymous mothers who recount why they had children through the repository and how those kids have turned out. We also are publishing a “Fray” posting from someone claiming to be a 17-year-old repository child. We’re dubious.


Slate will get to several other stories soon. A mother called me Monday afternoon to tell me about her daughter: The mother wants Slate to help her find the donor. We will, next week. The relative of another mother is corresponding with me (with the mother’s permission) about that mother’s effort to find her child’s donor. And I hope to meet with two other mothers later this week on a trip to Southern California.


I have also heard from another donor—more on that soon, I hope—a former employee of the repository, a friend of one of the repository kids, several women who tried and failed to get pregnant using the repository’s supersperm, and the granddaughter of Dora Vaux, the repository’s office manager, who died last year. (She writes, “My mom and I always got a giggle out of just the idea of my little Grammie working at a sperm bank and not only being there while the men were there to actually donate but actually soliciting very important men, high in their fields, to do such a thing. But the fact was, she had an incredible job and was really good at it judging by the number of donors she was able to recruit.”)


But obviously we don’t have anything like a cross-section of repository families and donors yet. That’s why we hope to hear much more from you.

If you have a connection to the Repository for Germinal Choice—whether as donor, parent, or child—and you would like to share your story anonymously, please contact David Plotz by e-mail at or by phone at (202) 862-4889.

The Seed Series

Part 1: An introduction to the Seed project

Part 2: An interview with donor “Entrepreneur”


Part 3: The first responses

Part 4: The real history of the “Nobel sperm bank”

Part 5: An update and a preview

Part 6: A mother searches for “Donor White”


Part 7: An update on the donor list

Part 8: The weird history of “positive” eugenics

Part 9: The Nobel sperm bank celebrity

Part 10: The donors

Part 11: A look at the parents

Part 12: The rise of the smart sperm shopper

Part 13: The genius babies grow up

Click here for Michael Kinsley’s explanatory introduction to Seed.

Join the Discussion

1. The Eugenic Family

2. Judging the Repository

3.  Your Story Here

4. Sperm Banks and Privacy

5. Eugenics, Privatized

If you are interested in sharing any information about the Repository for Germinal Choice, send e-mail to