One family organization—the Sampsons of Delta, Utah—embraced the idea of record gathering and digitization. When reunion organizer Tonna Bounds first approached friend and Kindex owner Kimball Clark, she had a great vision of uniting her family records, but was concerned about the following obstacles:
- How to encourage family members throughout the country to attend the reunion and bring their records
- How to scan records correctly within a limited timeframe
- How to discern which family members had what records
- Convincing aging or skeptical family members to preserve and share their records
- Involve children and youth in family record archiving
With her family’s biannual reunion several months away, we suggested she use Kindex Gather Services to hold an on-site digitization event—a “family scanning party”.
Several weeks before the reunion, we sent the family a “Call for Records” publicity image to promote the digitization event. The family posted this image on social media and emailed this image to family, and provided guidelines on record gathering including:
- A list of family members in attendance, and who of those brought records
- How record scanning would be prioritized. For example, the Sampson family focused on letters, journals, and papers more than photos. They also gave higher priority to records coming in from out-of-town attendees, and those records belonging to first-generation family members.)
- Acceptable record sizes, and what types of scanners would be available to accommodate those sizes
- Suggestions on preparing items for scanning, including the removal of loose papers, staples, paper clips, sheet protectors, etc.
When family members with records arrived at the reunion, we checked in their records and gathered the following information:
- Record owner and contact information
- Primary person to whom the records originally belonged
- Inventory of items to be scanned
As more documents arrived throughout the day, we were impressed with the family’s response to the Call for Records. Records were gathered from New York, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. Soon all our scanners were busy, and several family volunteers—including several youth—jumped in to help. Throughout the reunion, families entered the “record room” to check on the status of their scanning. They were delighted to see the process, and several volunteered their time to move the process along.
Mark Sampson, Kimball Clark, Dale Sampson, and Caleb Sampson busy scanning their family records. Caleb remarked, while scanning the journals of his ancestors: “This makes me want to go write in my journal when I get home.”
Ikara Bounds scans her family records while Kimball trains Caleb Sampson on book scanning
A Sampson family member pauses scanning to review an old school photo of an ancestor.
At the end of the day, we returned the records to their owners, and made arrangements to scan any records that remained. Following the compilation of all digitized files to an external hard drive, Kindex will:
- Orient each scan
- Save each in the appropriate format and grouping.
- Transfer the complete digitized archive to USB drives for family members to order
- Upload all digitized records to sampson.kindex.org, which enables the family to access each record and begin the indexing process.
Because of the Sampson Family’s dedication to the preservation and and sharing of their family records, their scanning event was a great success. Family members couldn’t wait to access records they had never seen, and were already planning indexing and book projects. Several volunteers became emotional as they paused to read journal entries between scans, pored over old photos, and when a copy of the Delta High School fight song was discovered, played an impromptu version of on the piano. Others simply poked in their heads and exclaimed, “Wonderful! We can’t wait!”
After the reunion, we asked Tonna how she felt about the record-gathering effort. She said:
“How do you explain something that took place at our past reunion that is so futuristic in thought and action. People don’t understand the potential in all of this—jaw dropping in thought!! Just trying to wrap my brain around it all. Aunt Zelda and Uncle Ivo’s history has been destroyed and through all the ancestors’ history. Those lost histories can now be put back together with even more force then could be imagined.”
The Sampson Family prepares letters for scanning.
We were honored to be a part of the Sampson Family’s effort to bring their family records out of obscurity, and hope to enable many more families see the the potential in utilizing family reunions for the gathering and preservation of their own family records.
Contact us to learn more about how Kindex can help you rescue your family records.