Family History Project
Ogilvy Washington for the U.S. Office of the Surgeon General
How do you encourage people to make time to document their family history?


An accurate family health history is a proven tool for managing good health, but in the mid-2000s, fewer than one third of U.S. adults had a current family history.


Research in 2004 showed that 96 percent of Americans accepted the value of knowing one’s family history. The disconnect between this fact and the low number of adults with a documented family history was the central message of a campaign to prompt family discussions and action.


  • Created an easy-to-use online tool to capture family history for sharing with physicians and other family members.

  • Launched a national observance aligned with the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday to leverage family connections and spark conversations that would help document family history.


Every year since 2004, the Surgeon General has declared U.S. Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day. Significant media coverage of the "My Family Health Portrait" tool continues each year to mark the national observance, and the online tool has been updated to be fully mobile.