Life History Studies was initially formed in the Spring of 1987. It began as one longitudinal study, and gradually grew into two related, yet autonomous studies.
Those studies are:
These two studies have intellectual ancestry in both the United States and in England. The U.S. origin can be found in the planning phase for the Oregon Youth Study, which Magda Stouthamer-Loeber and Rolf Loeber helped set up under the guidance of Gerald R. Patterson and John B. Reid from 1979 to 1983. The European origin of the three Pittsburgh studies is the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, which David P. Farrington has spearheaded since 1982, and which was started by Donald West in 1961.
Most longitudinal investigators are glad to be able to undertake a single longitudinal study over decades, so why three? Once Rolf and Magda Loeber left Eugene, OR in 1983, they and David Farrington decided to pool their strengths and create a longitudinal study called the Pittsburgh Youth Study (PYS), based on a community sample of 1517 young boys. After realizing that such a community-based study would not provide much information about the tail end of the distribution of problem behavior, Rolf Loeber, prompted by Benjamin B. Lahey, started a smaller longitudinal study of 177 clinic-referred boys called the Developmental Trends Study (DTS). PYS and DTS were eventually funded and began their first assessments in 1987.
After many discussions, joined by Kate Keenan from Chicago, a relatively small proposal was submitted to start a study of clinic-referred girls, however; the National Institute of Mental Health suggested that the field would be better served by a large-scale community study. Thus, the Pittsburgh Girls Study (PGS) was born and the first assessment was started in 2000. The PGS investigative team expanded in 2001, with the addition of Alison Hipwell, and again in 2009, when Stephanie Stepp also joined the team.