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.
It’s your archive—use what’s in it! Just-released software updates make it easier than ever to access, save, and utilize your archive data and source records. Kindex archive owners can now:
- Download archive data as XLS (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet)
- Download archive data as CSV (Comma-Separated Values)
- Download archive records as ZIP (Compressed Archive File)
When you download archive data, your archive and record data is saved to a separate XLS or CSV file, including:
- Archive Info: Your archive name and subdomain
- Record Info: Metadata, including File Name (linked to source on Kindex), Collection, Title, Person, Description, Keywords, Provenance, Date, Place
- Record Transcription
- Tags (markup within transcription)
Learn more about how Kindex metadata tools add value to your family records.
When you download archive records, you get a ZIP file of:
- All records you contributed to your Kindex archive
- All records Collaborators have contributed to your archive
- All records shared to your archive from FamilySearch
How do I Get Started?
- Log in to your Kindex archive
- Click the green cog (upper right corner) to open Manage Archive
Select the Tools tab and choose your download.
- To download your archive data, choose either XLS or CSV and the file will save directly to your download folder.
- To download your archive records, choose the ZIP option. The ZIP file is accessed through an email link you will be sent once your archive is ready to download.
- When you receive the email, click the Download Now button and the ZIP file will be saved to your download folder.
Note: You can only download archive data or records if you are the archive owner. Archive owners may download records and data as often as they wish.
Which Data Download Should I Choose?
When you download your archive data, you can choose to save as an XLS (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet) or a CSV (Comma-Separated Values). Which should you choose? That depends on how you want to use your data.When you download your archive data as an XLS file, you can view it in a spreadsheet format.
This is what our family archive data looks like in an XLS file:
Looks like some records in my Art Collection are missing some metadata!
When you download your archive data as a CSV, your data is saved as plain text in a series of values (cells) separated by commas (,) in a series of lines (rows). This format offers flexibility when importing into other spreadsheet formats or databases.
How Can I Use my Data Download?
- View archive data side-by-side in a spreadsheet and see at a glance what fields are missing or incomplete. For example, in the XLS spreadsheet example above, it appears that several records in the Art collection are Record Info, including Descriptions, Keywords, and Place. I can now add that information exactly where it needs to be.
- Import your archive data into another database. If you are a family organization, genealogy society, or historical society, this data can be a very useful addition to your existing database.
- Use your data to create digital or paper publications. When you copy or export transcriptions from your spreadsheet download (with accompanying markup), you can apply styles and formats to create new publications, like a book of primary source transcriptions. In the example below, I pasted some transcription text into a basic HTML template.
Note: Markup (paragraph tags, line breaks, etc.) are retained in data exports. Markup is helpful when you want to retain the original structure of the transcription as well as apply formatting in a new program.
Cool. What’s Next?
We’re working hard to develop tools that will make it easier to grow, discover, and share your Kindex archive. Upcoming features include:
- Advanced archive data search
- Improved record navigation
- Expanded archive import and export options
Have a question or suggestion? Let’s chat.
Kindex is excited to announce several updates to our archival web software that will make indexing your family records faster and easier.
1. View Record Progress at a Glance
See at a glance your record transcription status with our new “In Progress” label. Start a new transcription (click “Transcribe”), finish incomplete transcriptions (click “In Progress”), or read completed transcriptions (click records with a white checkmark).
2. Transcribe Records Back-to-Back
Get transcriptions done quickly and efficiently with our new “Save & Do Next” option. When you are done transcribing a record, click “Save & Do Next” and Kindex will automatically load the next record in the Collection for transcription.
Alternatively, you can click “Save & Read”, which opens a new page where you can review, edit, or tag your transcription.
3. Transcribe tables, forms, and other tabular text with new table tool
Our new table tool enables you to create tables in the transcription field to transcribe records that require some organization of text, such as official records, ledgers, or records with columns or tabulated text. With the table tool you can add a table, merge, edit rows and columns, add a table header, and customize vertical and horizontal text alignment.
Hint: If you are transcribing text from common record types that have repeated fields (i.e., postcards, marriage records, ledgers), create a table template that designates data fields. Then, copy and paste the table from your existing transcription window into the transcription of each new record so transcribers can input the text in the correct fields.
4. Download archive data as a CSV file
Our CSV archive download is a fantastic tool archive owners can use to access archive data, analyze archive status and needs, and backup archive data.
To download your archive as a CSV:
- Log in to your archive and go to Manage Archive (click the green cog in upper right corner ) and
- Select the Tools tab.
- Click “Download Archive as CSV”)
Open your downloaded CSV file to your archive data. Includes Archive Name, Archive Subdomain, File Name, Collection, Title, Person, Description, Keywords, Provenance, Date, Place, Contributor, Transcription, and Tags.
We hope you find these tools helpful when transcribing your family or historical society records! Is there a feature you would like to see? Contact us and tell us about it.
It’s time to be the record rescuer your family needs. Start or upgrade your family archive on Kindex.org today.
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Every family has at least one. No, not the crazy uncle. We’re talking about the record-keepers. You know, the ones that ended up with all the stuff: the family bible, the old photos, the diaries and letters. Some people spend a lifetime gathering records, hoarding photos, and hunting down lost items. Others come upon records by accident or inheritance. If you’re a record keeper, chances are you’ve thought a lot about what to do with your family records. You may not know it, but you’re an archivist.
What’s in Your Closet?
Like professional archivists, your goal is to collect, preserve, and share things—in your case, family records. Among the challenges professional archivists face when building a digital repository is making their collections discoverable, accessible, and searchable to their patrons. Family archives share these same challenges. For record-keepers of family photos, journals, letters, and other precious memorabilia, we should think like an archivist and ask ourselves the following three questions about our family records.
1. Are they discoverable?
Do your relatives and researchers know your family records exist? If not, how would they discover them? If your records are not “born digital” and are still in their original state as paper letters, journals, and other documents, it’s nearly impossible for others to discover your records. If your records are digitized, where are they stored? For example, the storage options below have varying levels of discoverability.
- Cloud storage, like Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox
- Physical storage, like computers, external hard drives, USB, CDs, etc.
- Online family tree databases, like FamilySearch, MyHeritage, and Ancestry
- Historical or genealogical archives
While some may think “I don’t want my records to be discovered,” remember that discoverability does not preclude archive owners from establishing rules of access and usage. For example, record owners may wish to be selective with record sharing, charge for record access, or enable rules and limitations on the use of the record. No matter what rules we have in place, discoverability remains the fundamental first step in creating a family archive. Without it, our records are lost to the world.
2. Are they accessible?
Once records are discovered, can relatives and researchers access them? There are many instances where records may be discoverable, but not accessible. For example:
- You discover records online, but they are in a private family tree you can’t gain access to
- You discover that a record in an archive, but it can only be accessed by visiting the archive
- You discover a record in an archive, but learn that access is limited to certain people
- Everyone knows Aunt Sue has the family Bible, but she won’t show it to anyone
- Your relative has the family photo collection on his external hard drive, but you can’t get a copy
As a record-keeper and family archivist, an important role is to enable accessibility to family records. If you don’t do it, who will?
3. Are they searchable?
Are your family records currently searchable? How easily are they sorted, searched, and read? What elements of your records are searchable (file names, titles, descriptions, etc.)? How does your software, cloud storage, or family tree database facilitate searchability? As a companion question, can your records (and all of their associated data) connect with other databases, family trees, and archives? Furthermore, can your record data be downloaded, manipulated, and applied in other ways, like timelines, maps, and books? When choosing where to place your family records, remember that full searchability is key to an archive that is engaging, connectable, and readable.
A Kindex Solution
These are the kinds of questions we think about every day. We help family archivists rescue their records, bring them out of obscurity, and create archives that can be discovered, accessed and shared. With Kindex you can:
- Enable your archive to be discovered by potential collaborators and contributors
- Access your archive from any computer, anywhere.
- Unite scattered family records, make hard-to-find collections accessible to your members, and create public or private networks to collaborate on your archive
- Create searchable record data in three ways (metadata, full text transcription, and tags)
- Download your archive data (as CSV) any time.
In addition, we have some amazing features presently in development that will help your archive to connect and be shared with other people in various formats.
SAY NO MORE. LET’S DO THIS!
Still undecided? Here are some bonus questions:
Where is your Archive?
||On your computer
||In a digital family tree
|Do I control my archive access, scope, and content?
||Varies (private vs. wiki-based)
|Is my archive discoverable online?
||Varies (private vs. wiki-based)
|Is my archive accessible from any computer?
|Can others collaborate on my archive
||No or very limited
|Can my archive be private?
||Yes; Choose your privacy level
|Is my archive fully searchable?
|Can I add metadata?
|Can I add metadata in batch form?
|Does my archive have integrated transcription & record tagging tools?
||Varies; often separate from primary source
||Rare; Varies by platform
||Rare; Varies by platform
|Can I download all my archive data?
|Is my archive compatible with other databases?
||FamilySearch (others forthcoming)
*some metadata searchability in development
Archive Your Life on Kindex
Don’t you think it’s time you started thinking like an archivist? Kindex is free to try, so head over to Kindex.org and get started. Click “Try it Out” to start your free archive up to 50 records. Upgrade to unlimited records (and unlimited collaborators!) for about $12/month.
TRY IT OUT!