Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Mind Maps Can Be Used in Genealogy Research and Writing...Alzo

  While going though a file called Articles I found one from Internet Genealogy magazine October/November 2012 called "Mind Maps: Free Your Mind" by Lisa Alzo.

For Lisa a spark for an idea may come from  a dream, a TV show, a newspaper, or online. Any of these (or others) can trigger topics to write about. From there a series of points develop but most of the time what she calls a "mish-mash" gets dumped into something called a MIND MAP.

Lisa refers to a free—flowing process invented by the British psychologist, Tony Buzan in the 1970s. Buzan says:
 "constructive thinking is a free flowing process on that branches in unpredictable directions around a single key word."

(Teaching techniques for years have used Venn, Cluster and other "thinking" Diagrams.)

In Lisa's article she lists 5 ways a mind map can be used in genealogy research and writing projects.

The following are just a few ways I used mind maps in research and writing.

1. Creating a Research Plan
After attending many FGS, NGS, Jamboree and society events and listening to sessions on organizing your genealogy, I have taken many notes on their many suggestions for research plans.

          But do we ever use them?

! My research became much more focused when I started using a written plan or mind map.
     * I was able to focus and leave out extraneous information that kept popping back into my head.
• A plan or mind map can also be composed on computer or with the use of other technology.
     *But I used pencil and paper in an old fashioned cluster map drawing.

• Even a timeline is a mind map. Time consuming yet quite useful.
     * This was most useful with my brick wall.

          Comment: Or drawn in the sand? 
The article includes a sidebar with tools for creating Mind Maps. 

2. Tracing an Ancestor's Footsteps

When trying to put some organization into the wanderings of the Szabo family during the late 1800s in Hungary and Romania, I just got a map and pinpointed the cities of the births of the Szabo children and connected the dots.
Talk about "Mapping." This is Central Europe 1789

I noted railways, rivers, roads. I searched Google or Wikis for towns of births and/or large towns nearby to see what may have been an economic attraction.

     Comment: I was thinking that an economic attraction might net a family a job for income...but this may not have been the reason for migration. 

Little did I know it was NOT an economic reason.  
More on this in a subsequent blog.

3. Connecting Family Lines/Cluster research (see solving Brick Walls below)

4. Family History Projects
With the inspiration of Dawn Parrott Thurston, I got the impetus  to work on writing vignettes of my family history.  Mapping helped me get thoughts down on paper but certainly not in a finalized product. The mind map of my family history has begun.

      Comment: Don't start your writing with normal genealogical BMD facts. Picture in your mind a setting, a family remembrance, and start there. Describe the rememberance and the rest will come. 

" My father sat in the big overstuffed chair hidden behind his evening newspaper. "

5. Solving Brick Walls and Connecting Family Lines
In tracing the Binder surname, Binder genealogy was a conundrum.
(see blog "Serendipity"
I sidestepped to the surname Muehl, the half sister of Binder. I was using a mind map.

• Branch after branch of my mind map developed 
• I sidestepped my direct line to connect with my half great aunt Katie.

     Query: Is there such a thing as a half great aunt?

Katie was easier to map. Lots of newspaper articles, photos, and letters. 

     Comment: Hindsight!

So I had been using mind maps but didn't name them.

Have you used Mind Maps?
How do you get organized?

Please contact me with any comments on my blog and blog topics.

See ya down the road,

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