The use of donor sperm began as a medical practice with a level of secrecy bordering on shame. In the United States, donor sperm insemination was first performed by Dr. William Pancoast in 1884 at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.
The patient was never told, and it is unclear whether the husband was completely informed as to exactly what was occurring. This was done to prevent “irreparable harm” to the resultant child and the marriage. The case was not published until 1909, 25 years later.