When Kimball and I founded Kindex, one of the first goals we established is to “Gather What is Scattered”—a goal that would rescue and unify the family records that are found in almost every home. Accumulating, organizing, and digitizing family records is the first—and often the most challenging—step families face. And the larger the family association, the more complex this “gather” step can be. For example, here are four types of family associations:
- Immediate families: individuals, couples, or family units consisting of a husband, wife, and children
- Grandparent families: families including descendants of siblings
- Ancestral Family Organizations (AFO’s): families that include all descendants of a common ancestral couple.
- Surname-based Ancestral Societies: associations of ancestral families that share a common surname.
Once family organizations move beyond immediate families, they face significant challenges in knowing what family records exist and who has them. For example, when parents pass away, children may inherit various family heirlooms, including photos, journals, letters, and other artifacts. As these records are passed down, it becomes difficult not not only to track who has what records, but also ensure the records are being handled and stored properly. Sometimes, children who inherit or discover family records fail to understand their value, and records are lost, thrown away, or damaged. On the other hand, there may be family members who hoard family records, reluctant to share what they have. More often than not, historical records relevant family associations are in hidden in homes of their members.
There are many things family associations can do to combat these challenges, including:
- Create a “call for records” by mail, email, or social media that invites family members to search for family records in their own homes. Define what records you are seeking and offer help to those needing support.
- Create a database determining which family member holds what records.
- Hold family “scanning parties” or have a “scanning room” at your next reunion.
- Offer to help an elderly family member by organizing or scanning their records.
- Enlist the help of professional scanning services, if needed. (See Kindex Gather Services.)
- Establish a common digital archive where family members can contribute their records.
One example of a “Call for Records”
Because family associations of all sizes seek preserve and share their historical records, it is important that family members have access to a common repository where digitized records can be gathered. When a family association creates a Kindex webpage, (i.e., ezratclark.kindex.org), members of that family collaborate together to gather their digitized records into a single archive. More than just a online archive, Kindex provides the tools where families can index and search an ever-expanding family record database.
Kindex family pages offer several advantages over standard digital storage and family tree databases. When you create a Kindex Family page, you can:
- Determine whether an archive is private or public
- Create archives for both deceased and living individuals
- Establish which ancestors/family members are included in your archive, thus creating a well-defined family identity as opposed to a more open-ended family tree database. This helps families gather, index, and search their database more effectively.
Currently Kindex is assisting several Ancestral Family Organizations with their “gather” efforts, including the Sampson Family Organization, the Ezra T. Clark Organization and Jesse N. Smith Heritage Foundation. We are also helping several grandparent organizations digitize and prepare their records for Kindex family pages.
From living individuals to large family organizations, Kindex is determined to help families gather the records that are scattered and lost to history. How will you help rescue your family’s history?
Note: Kindex software is currently in Beta, with Kindex Family pages becoming available in December 2016. We invite you to try it out at Kindex.org and click the “Log in with FamilySearch” button. Or, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and to reserve your Kindex subdomain.
1.FamilySearch Wiki, s.v. “Create and Maintain Family Associations and Organizations” (accessed October 4, 2016), https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Create_and_Maintain_Family_Associations_or_Organizations