Book Review: MindMaps for Genealogy

The following book review was written by Dick Eastman:

MindMaps for Genealogy
by Ron Arons
71 ppg. Published by Criminal Research Press

I have read a lot of genealogy books over the years but MindMaps for Genealogy was not like any other book I have read before.

A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. The diagrams created by mind mapping techniques visually “map” information. Mind maps can be used as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.

In this book, author Ron Arons introduces the basic concepts of mind maps: what they are, how to create them, and how to use them for planning genealogical research. He also shows how mind maps can complement the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), considered to be a standard for determining and proving genealogy research results. Mind maps are particularly useful for helping solve “brick wall” problems that are common in genealogy research, including:

  • Missing data
  • Inconsistent or conflicting data
  • The inability to access records due to privacy restrictions or other impediments

As Mr. Arons states in the beginning of the book:

Mind maps work so well because they:

  • Are flexible; they can be used in a variety of ways
  • Work with unstructured or structured data
  • Are visual (A picture is truly worth a thousand words)
  • Use color (which enhances visual perception)

MindMaps for Genealogy focuses on the use of software to create and to analyze mind maps. The software groups facts together in a number of ways. Facts can be displayed individually or in groups to display different “paths” through the collected information.

While many computer products can store and display structured data (names, addresses, dates, family group sheets and more), Ron Arons stresses that mind maps are especially useful for analyzing unstructured data; those bits and pieces of information that do not line up neatly into rows and columns.

The book then proceeds to show how to install free mind mapping software and gives illustrations of the use of such programs. The programs handle text and images easily. Some can also create presentations and/or printouts of the final maps.

I found MindMaps for Genealogy to be an excellent explanation of the concepts of mind mapping, presented by an experienced genealogist. The book includes numerous examples of simple to advanced mind maps using real world examples. For instance, it shows how the author used mind maps to identify the correct man from records of five men of the same name who all were born within twelve years of each other, lived in the same places (New York, Pennsylvania, and England), and four of the five had extra-marital affairs, according to court records. Which man was which in the records? Ron Arons used mind maps to identify his ancestor amongst the list of identically named men.

MindMaps for Genealogy also includes a brief description of several mind mapping software products useful for genealogy and many other uses, a long list of citations for the information used in the examples, and an index to the information contained within the book.

Do you want to obtain a new outlook on how to find incomplete, missing or confusing information? I’d suggest you start with MindMaps for Genealogy by Ron Arons. You can find more information on the author’s web site at www.RonArons.com and can also order the book from the same web site.

 

5 Comments

I’ve used mindmaps for years, but didn’t think of using them for genealogy. This will be whole new ballgame.
Mindmaps are great – they are visual, fun, and work like our minds work – not in straight horizontal and vertical lines.
The hardest thing people seem to find when I try to teach them is to start in the middle of the page, instead of at the top, left-hand corner!
Mary

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Dick, are you saying to buy a printed book (with you going paperless) or is this a computer program?

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    To my knowledge, MindMaps for Genealogy is not yet available as an ebook. I wish it was. I would prefer that.

    I just purchased two non-genealogy books this morning from Amazon. Of course, I purchased them as Kindle ebooks. The Kindle versions were more than 50% cheaper than the printed versions, both were delivered to my iPad within a minute or two instead of waiting days for delivery from the mailman, and both are available in an easy-to-carry format for my trip to Birmingham, England on Monday. I suspect that within a very few years, all books will be available as ebooks and many will also continue to be available on paper. It will be the buyer’s choice. But we aren’t there yet.

    Of course, I do have a sheet-feed scanner here that scans both sides of every page so it wouldn’t take more than two or three minutes to cut the binding on MindMaps for Genealogy and feed it into my scanner, saving it as an ebook on my own computer. But I probably won’t do that.

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Lesley K. Cafarelli April 11, 2015 at 9:07 am

Like Mary, I’ve also used mind maps (also called concept maps) for years, especially in working with groups of college and university faculty to plan curricula and identify obstacles to change projects on campus and ways to address them. I’ve also used them, for genealogy and find them especially helpful in analyzing indirect evidence and carrying out cluster research. I like the idea of creating them on the computer and have tried a few different programs, but I still find it easier and quicker to do them by hand. I look forward to seeing Ron Aron’s examples and which software he recommends.

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I have used mind mapping from time to time – taking notes or for delivering a speech. Once one gets the hang of it, it wouldn’t be necessary to read the book (sorry) because each person would do it in her/his unique approach. But always, as mentioned, start in the middle.

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