Announcing the release the Kindex Collaborative Upgrade, the best way to bring family and friends together on a single, online archive. Upgrade to Collaborative and transform your archive into a destination where friends or family can help gather, index, and search—or simply enjoy reading family records.
Also released today is the option to create a Public archive when upgrading to a collaborative account. Enjoy the benefits of Crowdsourced Indexing, and jumpstart your indexing by allowing any Kindex user to transcribe and tag your records. Public archives also help others to discover and connect to your archive.
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Over the past couple of years we’ve observed the increasingly prominent role stories have played in helping people engage with family history. During 2016, Steve Rockwood, president and CEO of FamilySearch International, revealed how FamilySearch is changing the way they engage people in family history. Starting with stories—rather than names, dates, and charts—turns the traditional family tree model upside down and offers an inviting approach for users who crave a more emotional connection. Steve Rockwood, as quoted in the Ancestry Insider, said:
“We are concentrating on how everyone can experience and feel those emotions.” By giving them immediate, emotional experiences, FamilySearch hopes they then engage in family history. FamilySearch decided to concentrate on stories. “We are serious” [about this change]. Steve said. “We changed our logo, our entire branding.” The FamilySearch logo now looks like a set of picture frames. FamilySearch starts people with photos, audio recordings, anything that anyone can participate in. That makes it an exciting world of change. “Now, more and more people are getting involved in this thing called family history.” For example, FamilySearch has seen a 47% increase in young people involved in family history. 
Later in 2016, he repeated the emphasis on stories. Upon learning that only 2 percent of LDS church members responded to the call to do family history when they were told, “here’s a chart; here’s a record; here’s a computer”, they changed their approach. As blogger Lynn Broderick wrote in Steve Rockwood asks: Where’s your Jerusalem?:
“…FamilySearch decided to “turn the model upside down. [FamilySearch is] going to start with stories.” Stories are not a “niche” like genealogy. Memories and photos are a place where “all the people on the earth” can participate. This is an area that attracts more young, single adults and statistics show a greater participation by the millennials.”
However, such changes are not always met with enthusiasm by traditional genealogists who adhere to strict standards of proof, accuracy, and source citations. Stories without sources are, after all, just stories.
But is there a different way to look at this disconnect? Can stories be both emotional and accurately sourced? While stories often function as the broad gate by which many people enter family history, they are not a substitute for accurate research and use of best practices. But are stories and narrative-based family history really incompatible with traditional genealogy research? As Tony Proctor explains in his post Evolution and Genealogy, narrative-based genealogy can unite both storytelling and sound genealogy practice:
“…[I] presented a view of narrative genealogy that embraced story telling, narrative reports, proof arguments, and transcription (of both old and new material). I believe that this seamless inclusion is necessary for useful genealogy, and for micro-history in general.”
The inclusion of stories, accompanied with relevant sources and transcriptions, is not only helpful, but necessary when creating genealogies. The key, as always, lies in the source. Primary source records like letters, journals, and similar documents are the holy grail of stories. In truth, they are the story.
When properly sourced, stories can play a key role in genealogy research. But so often, these sources are elusive and unsearchable. Whether hidden away in closets or filed in an archives, family records are one of the most underdeveloped and at-risk resources family historians and genealogists have.
One of the primary purposes of Kindex is to elevate family records to a key role in both storytelling and sound research. By indexing records, they become accessible and readable by anyone who knows how to search. And let’s face it, searching—and not reading—is the default way we find things, especially youth. By removing barriers that prevent us from accessing and reading family records, we can place sourceable stories at our fingertips.
There are other applications beyond stories. Through the addition of transcriptions, tagging, and macro-data, records are elevated in their usefulness and purpose. For professionals and casual researchers alike, records with linkable data are invaluable in their ability to connect records to other databases and family trees. This connectivity will someday make it just as easy for families to cite a family record to their tree, as it is to cite a birth or death record.
Additionally, transcribed and tagged records can be scaled to many applications, including historical research, book publishing (i.e., The Joseph Smith Papers), and limitless after-market products such as maps, timelines, and other creative works. By putting families in control of their own archives, they can choose how to apply and make available their own records.
Through the search and application of primary source records, Kindex provides a solution that both genealogists and storytellers can agree on: that the best source is an original source. Perhaps it’s not enough to turn the family history model upside down—we must also turn it inside out, and get to the source of our history. What a gift it will be for us, and the generations that follow.
 Turning the Model Upside Down. (2016, 07 27). Retrieved February 2 , 2017, from Ancestry Insider: http://www.ancestryinsider.org/2016/07/turning-model-upside-down-byugen-byufhgc.html
 Broderick, L. (2016, 11 1). Steve Rockwood Asks “Where’s Your Jerusalem?”. Retrieved 2 2, 2017, from Family Search Blog: https://familysearch.org/blog/en/steve-rockwood-asks-wheres-jerusalem/
 Proctor, T. (2016, 02 12). Evolution and Genealogy. Retrieved 02 02, 2017, from Parallax View: http://parallax-viewpoint.blogspot.com/2016/02/evolution-and-genealogy.html
Not quite ready to throw out your college essays, old dance photos, and bills from the previous century? Kindex has a solution for you. Not just for old family records, Kindex is great for any record or source you want to preserve, access, or share. Here are some of our favorite ideas.
Create a living family archive with document collections for each family member. Scan school papers, calendars, awards, art, and report cards. Scan that growing pile of back-to-school notices, calendars, and checklists you can’t seem to get through. Have a pile of random papers you’re saving because you might need them someday? Scan them. Then throw them away. Okay, most of them.
2. Collaborate on a cookbook
Scan your favorite recipes, invite your friends to do the same, then add them to a Kindex archive. Collaborate together in transcribing old, handwritten recipe cards into a searchable database of recipes.
3. Organize receipts, bills, and other yucky stuff
Bills, receipts, and statements are by far my least favorite form of clutter. Yet, I can’t seem to throw them away. Scan, add to your Kindex archive, add metadata (single or batch form), and notes. Viola! You have a searchable archive. Now start shredding.
4. Share family trusts and other private records
Scan your family trust papers and add them to your a private Kindex archive. Invite board members to the archive where they can search and access the records.
5. Create a personal archive
Start your own private, personal archive and add special records like letters, diaries, and photos. Can’t part with your college essays, teenage-angst poetry drafts, and embarrassing love notes? Scan and archive on Kindex – before your kids find them.
6. Start a research project
Have a special project or hobby? Organize, transcribe, and search digitized content and sources on a private or public Kindex archive. Research alone, or invite other researchers to collaborate.
7. Teach about history
Use Kindex to teach children and students about history using primary sources from Kindex.
- Invite each student to transcribe a record and share what they learned
- Search for historical events in your family archive
- Study how historical events impacted your family
8. Facilitate record access and searchability for your society
Start a private collaborative archive for your genealogy or historical society. Create collections to share with your members, start a crowdsourced transcription project, and add the Kindex CSV data download all the transcriptions and metadata to your society’s database. You can even provide Kindex archives for families that donate their records to your society. Need help getting a collection of records transcribed? Create a public Kindex archive and invite others to help you index the records.
9. Create an archive for “lost” or orphaned photos.
Create a public Kindex archive for your “lost”, unidentified, or orphaned photos. Add the metadata you know, and invite others to search, transcribe, and share your records. (See found.kindex.org)
10. Start a “record rescue” for your family organization
Tired of guessing where all the family records went? Conduct a “record rescue” for your family organization to gather, scan, and archive family records. Host a “record reunion”, scanning party, or family transcribe-a-thon. Collaborate with cousins around the world in making your family’s records accessible and searchable to all your family.
What can you use Kindex for? Tell us your ideas!
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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.
Related: What’s in Your Closet? | A Reunion of Records: Giving Family Reunions a Higher Purpose | Kindex Software Sneak Peek
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
From venues to menus, reunion planning involves numerous parts, including meals, activities, displays, entertainment, games, and publicity. While most family reunions include heritage-related displays and activities, we believe family reunions are a unique and ideal setting for accomplishing important family history goals, such as record gathering and digitization.
Family records such as journals, photos, and letters are treasured items, but families often fail to gather, preserve, and share their records with one another. Inevitably, records are lost, damaged, or thrown out. Records that are digitized are often difficult to access, search through, and read.
Using reunions as a catalyst to gather and scan family records is a rare opportunity to address these concerns while accomplishing key family history goals. Families can:
- Unite far-flung records by inviting family members to bring their photos, letters, and journals
- Discover and view precious family records for the first time
- Inventory family records including ownership, record types, and provenance.
- Learn how to handle, organize, scan, and index their records
Sampson Family Reunion
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 and 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 (forthcoming), 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. At your next family gathering, make it a reunion of records with Kindex Gather Services.
Unite what is scattered.
Reveal what is hidden
Find what is lost.
Do you have boxes of papers, letters, and journals and don’t know where to start? Do you want to index (transcribe and tag) your family records but the process of scanning everything seems overwhelming? Kindex offers many services that help families organize, digitize and archive their family records.
- Record organization. Organize and prioritize your letters, journals, photos, and papers in preparation for scanning.
- Scanning. Scan your letters, journals, diaries, papers, ephemera, photos, slides and negatives.
- Audio & video digitization. Convert audio and video formats to digital.
Physical and Digital Record Preservation
- Digital Family File Organization and backup. Organize and copy digitized records on solid state external drives and USB drives.
- Online Storage and Collaboration. Move your family records to a Kindex Family page where digital records can be gathered, indexed, and shared with your family.
- Physical Record Archival. Archive your letters, photos, journals, papers, ephemera, and other records in archive quality containers.
Family Record Gathering Events
- Family Reunions
- “Empty Nester” Nights
- Custom on-site record scanning
Pricing is available at hourly or a-la-carte rates. Please call for a free quote or consultation.
Kimball Clark: 801-458-0282
Cathy Gilmore: 801-513-0585