History, although in the past, can help shape the future. Local historian and entrepreneur Jennifer Keil, co-founder of 70 Degrees, aims to change how archivists preserve historical data to show that history can be simultaneously fun and profitable.
Named for the ideal storage temperature of artifacts, 70 Degrees uses both physical means and digital technology to store historical objects, record oral history accounts, curate museum exhibits and work with both government and businesses to preserve important records and events. The company manages a temperature-controlled facility in Laguna Hills, which houses artifacts and lends them to organizations.
Along with her sister and fellow co-founder Cynthia Keil – who has an expertise in oral history and interest in information technology – they noticed a need for digital and physical archives in local history.
“Although we work in a very physical space, we are very much in the digital sphere, showing what’s physically in those storage containers so that groups borrowing information or artifacts can get a sense of what we have and make it easier to collaborate,” said Jennifer.
The Keils first discovered UC Irvine’s entrepreneurial network through a visit to the ANTrepreneur Center as graduate students. From there, they combined a love for history with entrepreneurship and, in 2018, returned to UCI Applied Innovation to pursue their startup through the Wayfinder program.
Wayfinder has provided 70 Degrees with an intentional space geared toward collaboration and connections to innovation advisors like Bruce Wilson, who connected 70 Degrees with Ancestry.com. This connection provided the startup with insights about best practices to implement into product models.
Besides working with Applied Innovation, they have also collaborated with the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences where they have learned to make history more readily accessible through technology like 3D renderings of artifacts, facial recognition software and virtual reality experiences.
The Keils have already applied this technology in their work with the Moulton Family Foundation, a family that has had ties to Orange County’s development since the 1880s. In addition, 70 Degrees has spoken with the Korean Consulate and a few corporate businesses about archiving local and company history and records. In the future, Jennifer hopes 70 Degrees will set the precedent for digital history for classrooms, archivists, museums and corporations.
“The [Wayfinder] program alone validates that our field is becoming more interdisciplinary and allows us to work beyond our normal networks,” said Jennifer.
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*Cover Photo: 70 Degrees has used Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS) Application Programming Interface (API) to analyze its digital collections. As data and archival scientists, Jennifer and Cynthia Keil use best practices established by national and regional groups. Their interdisciplinary approach allows them to work with computer science professors, librarians and architects.
All photos courtesy of: 70 Degrees