Kindex Co-founder Cathy Gilmore presented “Hoarder to Order: a Step-by-Step Family Record Rescue” at RootsTech 2018. This presentation examines why records are at risk, discusses obstacles to family record preservation, and gives a step-by-step overview of how record-keepers can rescue their family records. We will be sharing excerpts from her presentation on the Kindex blog.
Most of you will recognize this young woman as Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who kept a diary while in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. Her diaries provided a vital, personal voice to the war experience and went on to become literary and historical treasure.
Anne Frank, c1940. Unknown photographer; Collectie Anne Frank Stichting Amsterdam – Website Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam
Do you recognize this woman?
Hermine Santruschitz, also known as Meip, was among those who helped Anne Frank and her family hide in the annex during World War II. Her service to the Frank family continued after the war when she retrieved Anne’s diary from the annex and took the diary to Anne’s father, Otto—the only surviving member of the Frank family. Anne was the record creator, but Meip was the record rescuer. Without Meip, Anne’s story could have been lost to history.
Many of us are the “Meips” of our family: we are the record rescuers. While we do not face the same obstacles as the Frank family, we have a great responsibility to ensure our family records are not lost, damaged, or thrown away. As keepers of family records in an increasingly digital age, we are among the last generations who will create or save written family records. Stored in boxes or on closet shelves, our records are not just the museum pieces of the future—they are the ultimate key to our family history, the tablula rasa that coming generations will turn to for answers.
Which leads us to the question: Am I my brother’s (or grandmother’s, or uncle’s, or cousin’s) record keeper? We must be. As the gatekeepers of family records, how do we fulfill our responsibility to rescue them and preserve both our family’s legacy and add their voices to history? From boomers to millennials, we must bear the collective responsibility to rescue history through our family records.
How do we begin? From inventory, to scanning, to digital archiving, each step of a record rescue could easily be (and probably is) a class of its own. It can be overwhelming, but there is hope. The purpose of this series make a family record rescue manageable, give tips for success, and inspire each of you to take action.
Next up: Hoarder to Order Part II: A Family Record Risk Assessment. We will discuss why family records are at risk and review common obstacles families face in record-keeping and preservation.
Kindex co-founder Kimball Clark and Laura Anderson, Senior Historian at the Church History Library, will present “Crowdsourcing Your History: Collaborative Archives for Families, Groups, and Societies” at the RootsTech Demo Theater on Thursday, March 1 at 10:20 a.m. We recently asked Laura Anderson, Senior Historian at the Church History Library, to share how she uses Kindex to make Mormon Battalion Association records more accessible and engaging. We thank her for sharing her thoughts with us below.
Two days before volunteers left to serve in the Mormon Battalion, LDS Church President Brigham Young said their “lives should be spared and [their] expedition result in great good, and [their] names be handed down in honorable remembrance to all generations.”1
In order for that to happen, we need to know all about their stories. We needed to tell not only their stories, but the stories of their families. With 500 men and about 2,000 people total, that’s a lot of research. I knew that researching one at a time would not work, so we needed to create a searchable archive from the thousands of records we have related to the Mormon Battalion. I’ve had people transcribe for me in the past, but it was very time-consuming to keep track of it all, and difficult to avoid the duplication of work. I wanted a way to transcribe and search al the documents on a central platform.
At Rootstech 2017 I found Kindex, and it was just the solution I needed: a collaborative indexing platform where I could gather and organize the Mormon Battalion records. I began adding records, transcribing, and inviting others to help. As we progressed in transcribing the archive, Kindex listened to my feedback and were even willing to prioritize software features that I needed. With Kindex I can track our collaborators and the progress we make on indexing.
In addition to solving the transcription challenges, Kindex also makes it easy for anyone to access and search the archive. Before Kindex, the records scattered in various places so they were difficult for the average person to discover. Now, we have all the records accessible in a central archive that is getting more searchable every day. Through this archive, Kindex is helping me keep that promise to keep their lives in “honorable remembrance”.
To search the Mormon Battalion Archive, or to become a volunteer indexer on this project, go to https://mormonbattalion.kindex.org and click Request Access.
- William Hyde, The Private Journal of William Hyde (privately published, 1962), 19; spelling standardized.
- Cover art located in the Pioneer Memorial Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah. No additional info available at time of publication.
I recently accompanied my 5th-Grader on a field trip to the Utah State Capitol and Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP) Museum. As we passed the capitol on the west side, we our school bus drove by the Capitol Hill Ward where my grandparents first met in 1932. At the DUP Museum next door, we had a scavenger hunt with the students. As we were checking items off our list, I walked past these photos.
They were part of a larger exhibit on pioneer Charles C. Rich and his family. I was immediately struck by the similarity between the lettering on the photo captions and our grandmother’s lettering. Could it be hers? I asked docents at the DUP if anything could be learned about the donor and date of donation, but unfortunately, there was no additional information.
But what evidence could I discover within our own family archive on Kindex? Even though the archive is only partially transcribed, I was certain I could find some clues. A quick search of “DUP” and “lettering” gave me answers in seconds. Let’s look at the connections.
Connection 1: Employment and Skill
Dorothy Smith did odd jobs hand-lettering for various local businesses. A quick search for “lettering” in her Kindex archive confirms this, revealing a list of lettering jobs she did in the early 1930’s.
Hobbies Dot JOBS Employment
3 Feb ’32 Clerked at “Everybody’s Store’ sale today (1.50) (script)
13 June ’32 – got show card order – Fred Bich[…]
Also job to tint 22 charts for NDA.
Jan 16 / 34 Kress Store clerk & Decorator 14.00 wk
Mar or Apr 33 thru Aug 34 Lettering signs after May 1/34 earn 17. – 20. wk
6 Dec 33 Hand-lettered some charts for Pres. B B Stringham
14-19 Dec 1931 – 7.65 earned from Christmas and orders from friends or kin.
Also 5.00 making 16 show cards for Realsilk Co. thru Chas. Jarman.
1.50 for business cards.
Connection 2: Physical Proximity and Record of Visit
In the same record as above, under the heading of “Church Work”, she mentions a visit the DUP Museum which was situated near her home.
going Wed DUP
Connection 3: Handwriting Comparison
In her archive are many examples of lettering she did for various family history projects. This connection compares Charles Rich photo captions with examples of Dorothy’s own lettering in her Book of Remembrance, also found in her Kindex archive.
Connection 4: Family Connection
A final connection is a family one. My own 2nd Great Grandfather, Charles Rich Clark, was acquainted with Charles C. Rich family, as they both had families in the same towns in Southern Idaho.
While Dorothy has some variance in her lettering style with the use of script and various embellishments, there is a strong similarity between the writing in the Charles C. Rich photos and the writing from her own Book of Remembrance. I see a strong resemblance especially in the numbering. Below is a selection of Dorothy’s writing pasted on to the Charles C. Rich photo image.
While there is not direct evidence to support that she indeed did the lettering, there is strong circumstantial evidence that she did. What do you think?
Dorothy’s lettering in center.
It’s fantastic that this type of research takes just a few minutes when you have a searchable arhchive. With our built-in indexing tools, your family records can be searched in seconds, making solving mysteries like this fast and easy. Haven’t tried Kindex yet? Head on over to kindex.org and start your free archive.
Many Kindex users have asked us, “What exactly do I get when I sign up for Kindex?” We’re glad you asked! Here’s a summary of all our key features.
Create Your Cloud or Closet Archive
- Kindex Cloud archive is a publicly accessible archive. Cloud owners may invite Collaborators to add or index records. Guests must have a free, “Kindexer” account to index records.
- Kindex Closet archive is a private, invite-only archive. Closet owners may invite Collaborators to add or index records. It is only accessible and searchable to the archive owner and invited Collaborators
- All archives receive a custom subdomain, can add unlimited records, and may invite unlimited collaborators
- Archive backed by Amazon Web Services.
Gather Your Records
- Add unlimited records (jpg, png, pdf up to 15MB each)
- Import Memories from FamilySearch.
- Individual or batch uploads
Collaborate with Others
- Invite unlimited friends and family to access the archive, free
- Collaborators can search, add, and index records
- Unite records scattered among various households or locations
- Create a crowdsourced indexing project (public archives only)
Share Your Records
Share records & transcriptions with anyone on a custom page
Add Data to Your Records
- Add searchable metadata (title, description, keywords, etc.) in single records or in batches
- Add a transcription with our built-in transcription tools
- Add tags for people, places, and events
Search Your Records
- Easily and quickly search every word of your archive
- Search includes metadata and transcriptions
- Download your archive data as a CSV or XLS file
- Download your archive records as a ZIP file
- Print individual transcriptions as QR-Coded PDFs
- View record totals and indexing stats
- Free customer support
- Free training