While sorting and scanning our grandmother’s collection of personal papers, we were overwhelmed in a sea of letters, diaries, photos, and other personal documents. As we pored over the handwritten pages, we realized we needed a solution beyond just digitizing.

Already avid indexers and family historians, we envisioned a tool that enables individuals, families, and organizations to index and tag their own histories—letters, journals, and other personal records—resulting in an accessible, searchable, archive. With the power indexing has to bridge generations, cross religious and cultural boundaries, and unite people, we became determined to bring family collections of written documents out of obscurity through indexing. These documents—replete with names, places, and stories—will enrich a family’s history, connect records to researchers, and fuel the find for historians everywhere.

What it does

Through the Kindex™ web app, users create a “Kindex”—a living archive where anyone can contribute, index, and share family records. Families may establish their two-generation Kindex™ using FamilySearch account, which provides a foundation of family names for your Kindex™. As records are gathered and attached to family names, they can be indexed privately within families or released as public indexing projects. Our indexing tool employs a simple side-by-side user interface where the user enters indexes the record and applies tags. Once approved by a family administrator, completed indexing becomes accessible and searchable through tools such as search engines, Kindex™ and FamilySearch, and other family history partners. Within Kindex™, users may also read indexed records, attach them as FamilySearch Memories, search their content, share on social media, or print to paper or PDF.

How I built it

We used our grandmother’s papers as the first use case. Through family collaboration, continual refinement, and testing processes, we have developed the first iteration of Kindex™. “Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.” —Willy Wonka

Challenges I ran into

Because of the scalability of Kindex™, we needed to maintain focus on our primary goal: to index family records and memories. Refining our interface for users of all ages, while also accommodating various digital media types (photos, letters, journals, video, etc.), has also been a complex issue

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Family history is a big tent where everyone fits in. We feel blessed to expand that tent.

What I learned

Evidence from our grandparents’ love letters reveals it is better to fall in love without a smartphone.

What's next for Kindex™

Voice recognition transcription for mobile devices Automatic OCR recognition of typed digital documents Searchable email records Our scalable indexing software expands user types and markets to historical organizations, libraries, academic collections, and additional family history partners.

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