Overview of the Collection
Arrangement of Materials:
Scope and Contents
Overview of the Collection
Collection Title: The Family International Records
Bulk Dates: 1968-1981
The Family International
Physical Description: 4.17 linear ft
Language of Materials:
Special Collections & University Archives
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
The Family International was founded in Huntington Beach, California in 1968 by David Berg. The group has gone by several
names including Children of God, The Family of Love, and Teens for Christ. Berg was also know by several other names; Father
David, Moses David, Mo, Grandfather, and King David. The group focused on spreading the Christian gospel through the counterculture
of the 1960s and into the 1970s. Berg disagreed with mainstream Christianity and used his particular brand of Christianity
to convert unchurched people, first in Southern California and eventually in many countries around the world. The first twenty
or so years of the organization’s history was fraught with controversy including child sexual abuse, practices such as “flirty
fishing” and “sharing,” as well as racism and anti-Semitism. After Berg’s death in 1994, his second wife Karen Zerby took over
leadership of the Family. Many of those controversial positions have since been disavowed by the current church leadership. This
collection includes correspondence with federal agencies, news articles, Anti-Cult documents, scholarly statements on The
Family International, official statements and publications from the Family International, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, and photographs,
as well as information on related religious groups from the organization’s early years.
This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Children of God (Movement)
Children of God (Organization)
Children of God (Musical group)
Conditions Governing Use:
The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with
the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections
is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Requests for permission to publish must be
submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission
is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission
of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available
for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including
but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.
Conditions Governing Access:
SDSU may grant permission for selective use of photographic and audio/visual material for academic purposes only in research-based
papers, studies, books, or publications. Requests for permission to use materials in this collection must be submitted to
the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access.
Identification of item, folder title, box number,
The Family International Records, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.
Peoples Temple Collection
Arrangement of Materials:
I. Historic Publications and Photos, 1940-1988
II. Photographs, 1969-1981
III. News Articles, 1972-2001
IV. Freedom of Information Act Files, 1971-2000
V. Cult Awareness Network Files, 1974-1997
VI. Anti-Cult Movement Files, 1979-1994
VII. The Family International Publications, 1974-2009
VIII.Academic Publications, 1993-2000
IX. Audio/Visual Files, 1971-2008
X. News Articles Original and Oversized Printings, 1972-2001
Scope and Contents
The Family International Records document more than six decades of church and personal activity and include newspaper clippings, photos, audio and video recordings,
personal papers, organizational documents, federal agency records, and related anti-cult and scholarly documents. During this
time, The Family faced many controversies based on their sexual practices and accusations of abuse. The majority of this collection
features “witnessing” activities through photographs, church publications such as brochures and A/V materials, as well as
news, government, and academic coverage of their religious movement. This collection has some personal documents from the
earlier life of founder, David Berg.
There are ten series in this collection:
Historic Publications and Photos (1940-1988),
News Articles (1972-2001),
Freedom of Information Act Files (1971-2000),
Cult Awareness Network Files (1974-1997),
Anti-Cult Movement Files (1979-1994),
The Family International Publications (1974-2009),
Academic Publications (1993-2000),
Audio/Visual Files (1971-2008), and
News Articles - Original and Oversized Printings (1972-2001).
Historic Publications and Photos (1940-1988): This series contains Berg Family newsletters and photos as well as early pamphlets from the Children of God
and photos of fellowship with the Jesus People Army.
Photographs (1969-1981): This series is divided by location and organized by year where applicable. The photos in this series depict
activities and members for The Family International over its first 20 or so years all over the world with a combination of
captioned and uncaptioned photos.
News Articles (1972-2001): This series comprises hundreds of news articles about The Family International from all over the world in various
languages, some with English translations.
Freedom of Information Act Files (1971-2000): This series includes records released by various American government agencies: FBI, CIA, NSA, DOJ, the State
Department, and the US Information Agency, as well as correspondence with these agencies.
Cult Awareness Network Files (1974-1997): This series consists of files created by the Cult Awareness Network regarding the activities and practices of
The Family International, including their opinions on the organization as well as scholarly work by Dr. Stephen Kent of the
University of Alberta.
Anti-Cult Movement Files (1979-1994): This series is related to the Cult Awareness Network Files, containing documents related to an organization
that is against alternative religions with controversial practices like The Family International. These documents were created
by the Anti-Cult Movement regarding The Family International and include interpretations of The Family International featuring
experiences of disaffected members who corroborated instances of abuse. The folders about Argentina and Chile are mostly,
if not completely, in Spanish.
The Family International Publications (1974-2009): This series contains media guidance, press releases and policy statements made by The Family International as
well as proselytizing brochures, all in various languages.
Academic Publications (1993-2000): This series is made up of a dissertation about sexual practices in The Family International and statements from
scholars regarding The Family.
Audio/Visual Files (1971-2008): This series has CDs, DVDs, VCDs, and audio cassettes with proselytizing video, church-created documentaries,
religious music, and scholarly presentations related to The Family International.
News Articles - Original and Oversized Printings (1972-2001): This series includes the original and/or oversized news articles that came as part of Series 3: Children of
God/ The Family International News Articles, 1972-2001. Due to their size, folds, and age, they are separate from the photocopies
in Series 3.