If a photo is a window into a family’s life, then a letter is the door. This 1904 portrait of the Emma Woolley and Charles Rich Clark family is beautiful, but offers few clues about the challenges, personalities and relationships between these family members.
Today, we transcribed a letter written by Emma Woolley to her husband Charles Rich Clark while he was away serving a church mission in 1892. In this letter we learn that Emma had a migraine, and that the oldest child, Marion, was the serious one who concerned himself with his mother’s help and offered a little prayer on her behalf. We learn that Vernon, the next oldest, was the silly one and said funny things that made his mother and neighbors laugh. We learned how devoted Emma is as a wife, managing the family accounts, nurturing sick children, doing laundry, and settling debts. She closes the letter saying,
“I guess this is not what would be called a love letter but it is written in love all the same, and I am proud of the man I love, and hope to keep ever fresh and alive that affection that exists between us”
To read the full transcription, go to the Ezra T. Clark Family Archive.
Make insights like this possible with your own family records and start your own family archive.
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.
Thanks for being amazing and indexing on found.kindex.org! See the instructions below for indexing records on the Kindex Lost & Found Archive. For a general overview and instructions, see links below.
Getting Started on Lost & Found
- If you haven’t already, sign up for a Kindex account.
- Note when you sign up on Kindex, you receive your own free archive (up to 50 records) with a custom subdomain.
- After you sign up, navigate to found.kindex.org and choose a record to index.
Note: If you are a collaborator on this archive, you will see the “found” archive in your archives list.
- A purple checkmark means the record has already been indexed, and “transcribe” means it’s ready to be indexed!
Transcribe & Describe
All photos in found.kindex.org should have some indexable text. Sometimes the text is written on or around the photo, and sometimes it is written on the back. If you need to add any of your own comments or clarification in the transcription, please include it within double brackets [[ ]].
- Type what you see. As with any transcription project, type what you see. Don’t correct spelling, expand abbreviations, or add anything that’s not there (except when using brackets [[ ]] if needed).
- Index a description of the photo. If there is no text on the photo itself, add a description that will help it be more searchable. Add an image description by clicking on the image tool above the transcription window. A numbered image box will appear where you can add your description.
Add an image description by clicking on the image tool above the transcription window.
- Photo captions or descriptions. Add the photo caption or description. If it’s on the next page, be sure to add a page break.
- Studio mark. If there is a studio mark, be sure to include it.
- If you are finished with your transcription, click Submit. Otherwise, click Save for Later.
Tagging & Adding Metadata
After you do the transcription you will go to the Tag step. Here you can additional information that can help this record be sorted and found.
Note: this step is optional. It is not necessary to fill out any or all of this information. To skip or complete this step, click Submit.
The same guidelines apply when indexing postcards.
Postcard 0016 on found.kindex.org
Note that postcards have additional areas of information, such as postmarks, and captions to images. Because Kindex does not yet have unique indexing fields for each type of data being transcribed, it is helpful to indicate within double brackets [[ ]] the type of information indexed, as shown below:
For Record Owners & Collaborators
If you have been invited to be a collaborator on an archive, you will be able to add records to that archive to be indexed. Please note the following:
- Records added to this archive must have some sort of indexable text that would identify the record to an individual or group.
- Collaborators who add records to Kindex archives retain copyright ownership. By adding records to Kindex, you are grant Kindex a license to host and create a derivative (i.e., an index) of your records.
- Record owners may watermark their images so much as the watermark does not detract from or obscure any part of the record.
- You must follow all Kindex Terms & Conditions. (You have an opportunity to review them when you create a free Kindex account.)
- Kindex has the right to remove records that don’t comply with terms and conditions.
Important: As of 03.28.2017, you can only add one record at a time, but batch upload capabilities are set to be released by April 7th. This tool will also enable you to batch assign Record information such as descriptions and provenance.
Thank you for being a record rescuer!
We are in the thick of RootsTech and are frankly amazed at the encouraging support we have received from family historians here who are excited about our indexing product. Although we learned we will not be moving forward to the finals, we are amazed at the progress we’ve made in just four months! Let’s recap:
- Kimball Clark and Cathy Gilmore decide to form Kindex LLC and begin to sell the software and hosting to family organizations
- Kindex uses bootstrap funds to begin software development
- We meet with FamilySearch for the first time to discuss the FamilySearch API. We are encouraged to enter the RootsTech Innovator Showdown
- Using props, clothing, furniture, and voice work from our own family members, we write a script and submit a video
- Software development begins in earnest, amidst continual and improving iterations.
- Business models are explored and refined.
- Business plan and proforma drafted.
- Social media and content marketing begins.
- Meet again with FamilySearch to discuss API
- We learn we are semifinalists in the Innovator Showdown.
- Kimball and Cathy spin the plates of marketing literature, wireframing, front end html and CSS, back-end project managing, preparing two booths for RootsTech, preparing the Innovator Showdown presentation, indexing our use case, writing social media content, selling our product to raise funds, looking for investors and backers, refining business models and pricing, and meeting with FamilySearch during API development.
Wednesday, February 3rd.
- The morning of the Innovator Showdown, Kindex becomes Family Search Certified
- Kindex competes in the RootsTech Innovator Showdown
- Kindex released Kindex Beta™, an MVP product with limited features
We are so thankful for the encouragement of our FamilySearch associates, especially Gordon Clarke, who enabled our certification. And, to the RootsTech Innovator Summit team who provide this great opportunity for startups like us. Without the ever-present deadline of February 3rd, 2016, we would not be where we are today.
To our supporters, Beta testers, and future users: thank you for catching our vision. Kindex Beta will introduce new features in the coming days and weeks, and we encourage your patience as we roll it out.
To the RootsTech Innovator Showdown team and GrowUtah: thank for providing us a springboard into something great.
And finally, a big thank you to our spouses and children, for their constant support and patience in our efforts to help other families find what is lost.
(l-r) Vladimir Canro (one of developers), Colleen Fitzpatrick (consultant), Cathy Gilmore, Kimball Clark.