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Review: Mind Maps for Genealogy by Ron Arons

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Mind Maps for Genealogy: Enhanced Research Planning, Correlation and Analysis by Ron Arons, Oakland, California: Criminal Research Press, 71 pages, published 2014. $26.95 (includes shipping and handling).

As a fan of the concept of mind mapping – creating a visual road map for idea generation and problem solving – and its applications for genealogical research, I was very pleased to locate the new book Mind Maps for Genealogy by Ron Arons. Recently at the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree in Burbank, California, I was able to speak to Ron about the book and mind mapping and I’m happy to be able to review Mind Maps for Genealogy.

Like me, Arons is a genealogy author and educator and we both realize that there are limits to illuminating a weighty topic like mind mapping within the confines of a 50 minute live presentation or webinar. That’s why I’m so happy to see a book like Mind Maps for Genealogy available to genealogists and family historians. Aron’s book does a great job at not just covering the basics, but the author actually takes research concepts familiar to genealogists (like the Genealogical Proof Standard) and shows real examples of how mind maps can help you apply the concept and resolve questions about your own research.

Find Genealogy Research Success via Real Problem Solving

So what will you find in Mind Maps for Genealogy? Besides a basic history and overview of the mind mapping concept, the author takes time to explain mind mapping terminology, why some current methods of displaying genealogy research data don’t work well, and how genealogists can mind map their own research projects.

One things Arons does well is to honor that fact that we all learn and intake information differently; this also means we need different ways to map out research problems. Arons also covers the two major mind mapping software programs – FreeMind and XMind – quite well, with both a beginner’s/get started view and then a more advanced view.

Arons zooms in on the Life-Focused Genealogy approach that many genealogists use when researching. With his own research example of the life of Isaac Spier who served time in Sing Sing Prison for bigamy, Arons walks the reader through the entire mind mapping process including brainstorming and planning, the use of a research log and finally the correlation and analysis process.

My favorite part of Mind Maps for Genealogy? Where Arons took the example research problem data from well-known genealogists including Dr. Thomas W. Jones (Mastering Genealogical Proof) and Elizabeth Shown Mills (Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage – QuickLesson 11) and created mind maps for each. It is amazing to see all the evidence laid out in mind map parent and child nodes; as a reader you can then understand the value of a mind map to solve those brick wall issues in one’s own research!


I think Mind Maps for Genealogy is a worthwhile purchase for those researchers who want to get serious about applying mind mapping methods to research problem solving. There are a few areas that as a publisher I personally would change: add a more substantial cover instead of the current paper cover, increase the size and resolution of some illustrations, and omit the source citations for the Isaac Spier mind maps at the end. However, these issues are from my own personal working perspective and they don’t detract from the overall value of the book as a resource for mind mapping.

If you’ve heard others talk about mind mapping and you’re serious about leveraging its power to help you better understand genealogical problem solving, Mind Maps for Genealogy is a must have handbook to get you started.

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Mind Maps for Genealogy by Ron Arons is available from the author’s website here.

Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee.