The First Responses

Exploring the "Nobel Prize sperm bank."
Feb. 14 2001 3:00 AM

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.

David Plotz David Plotz
David Plotz is Slate's deputy editor. If you are interested in sharing any information about the Repository for Germinal Choice, send it

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


The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 


How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.


A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
Sept. 14 2014 11:44 PM A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now … The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?