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Visit www.hhs.gov/familyhistory/start/startenglish.pdf for information from The U.S. Surgeon General’s Family History Initiative about gathering information to build your family history portrait.

Look for family records, like family trees, birth certificates, death certificates, etc. Even old diaries, photo albums and scrap books may help.

Search for official documents, like medical reports and other government records that may include some useful information. 


Ask relatives about your family's health history. Find out what your contemporaries and older members of the family about what they remember regarding family health issues over the years.

Certain health conditions can run in families. Diabetes, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia… even cancer — just to name a few. These ailments have the potential to repeat from generation to generation. Knowing your family’s health history and the illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents, and so on can help doctors identify some of the health risks you and your family members may face. Unfortunately, with the passing of each generation, valuable health information is often forgotten or lost. By compiling your family’s medical history, you can help impact the health of your current loved ones and future generations to come.

​Here are some tips on how to go about collecting the necessary information:

Your Family's Medical History Matters