Family History Database Project


The Family History Database Project (FHDP) is a long‑term effort to collect and archive multigenerational family histories in a computerized database for use by qualified researchers. The objective of the FHDP is to record facts about the functioning of individuals over a number of generations and to make possible the investigation of the family variables affecting these individual’s functioning. The purpose of the project is (1) to make the Database accessible to all qualified researchers (2) to demonstrate how multi‑generational emotional process in families affects individual functioning, and (3) through research using the Database to help all people better understand the multigenerational family influences on individual functioning.

The project is grounded in Bowen family systems theory. Bowen theory views the human family as an emotional unit and focuses on interdependence in functioning between people. Bowen theory conceptualizes an underlying continuum of variation in differentiation of self (DOS) as a primary variable affecting lifelong functioning in humans. Multigenerational family process transmits variable levels of self to offspring. Variation in self equates to differences in vulnerability to the pressures of emotional systems. So individual functioning is impacted by the state of important relationship systems around the individual. Bowen theory’s concept of the multigenerational transmission process suggest that some lines in families are increasing in functioning while other lines are decreasing. This concept was first developed using ten-generation family histories. That data set has been lost. This project seeks to recreate a similar data set and to replicate the original findings. This data base of multigenerational family histories will be collected and contributed by 25 co-investigators. Better understanding of family influences on individual functioning makes it possible for all people to use the findings to understand their own family and their own functioning in a way that makes improved functioning possible. In addition such understandings permit professionals who work with individuals and families such as in social service agencies to understand better how to potentiate improved individual functioning.

Contact kbkerr@myfairpoint.net for more information on the Project.