Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois

“Putting the Flesh on the Bones” and “Evaluating Evidence: Asking a mini-Minnie Question" by Ron Arons

  • 25 Sep 2016
  • 12:30 PM
  • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Rd, Northbrook
Program: September 25, 2016
Genealogist Ron Arons to give two presentations at JGSI September meeting 
NOTE:  Start Time is 1:00 p.m.

Expert Jewish genealogist and writer Ron Arons will deliver two informative presentations at the Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, starting at 1 p.m. at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill.
The titles of his talks at this special meeting will be “Putting the Flesh on the Bones” and “Evaluating Evidence: Asking a mini-Minnie Question.”

Ron Arons calls “Putting the Flesh on the Bones” his “bread and butter talk” that he has given for 15 years.  Through two related examples he explains how one can piece together an ancestor’s life by collecting as much documentation about him or her as possible as well as looking at the environments where they lived. 

He will introduce a few tools to help this process, including Life Chronology (his personal history timeline form), the Life Hub & Spoke, and mind maps. The process he describes can enable a genealogist to go beyond the names, dates, and places commonly associated with genealogical research.

Among the questions he considers are: Why did our ancestors act the way that they did?  How did their behavior have a direct impact our lives? How can we explain events and other things in our lives by their behavior? Arons will demonstrate how this methodology allowed him to break through some brick walls, push his heritage back four more generations, and find a plethora of living relatives he never knew beforehand.

With his other presentation, “Evaluating Evidence: Asking a mini-Minnie Question,” Arons explains that researching the lives of our ancestors is a big task, but to evaluate evidence, one needs to examine the bits and pieces of our research.

When Arons found the bigamy case of his great-grandfather Isaac Spier, he wanted to know what happened to the second wife, Minnie Ott. He will present the basic constructs of analyzing documents and evidence, i.e., the genealogical proof standard, pointing to the research question: How many times did Minnie Ott marry? In this presentation, he will apply the evaluation theory to the documents he located toward the resolution of this question.

Born in New York, Ron Arons worked for many years as a marketer at many high-tech companies, including Texas Instruments, Ashton-Tate, and Sybase, before deciding to work full time on his first book, “The Jews of Sing Sing.” He became interested in understanding his roots after he lost both his parents to cancer 16-18 years ago. In the process of researching his criminal ancestor’s past, Ron has traced his roots to England, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania.
In 2005 Ron won a Hackman Research Residency Award from the New York State Archives to continue his research of New York Jewish criminals.

In January 2008, Ron appeared on the PBS television series “The Jewish Americans” as the acknowledged expert on Jewish criminals of New York’s Lower East Side.

Arons tours the country giving educational and entertaining presentations on Jewish criminals and Jewish genealogy. He received a B.S. in engineering from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

He has given 250+ presentations internationally, and has authored three books, “The Jews of Sing Sing: Gotham Gangsters and Gonuvim”; “WANTED!: U.S. Criminal Records Sources & Research Methodology,” and “Mind Maps for Genealogy: Enhanced Research Planning, Correlation, and Analysis.”

For more information about the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois or the JGSI schedule of future events, visit or phone 312-666-0100.

While this program is free, those who join the society have access to several valuable members-only resources on the JGSI website. They include video recordings of more than a dozen presentations from past JGSI events, valuable informational handouts from past speakers, access to past Morasha newsletters containing informative articles about Jewish genealogy, the syllabus from the 2015 JGSI conference, and more. To learn more about the benefits of joining the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, go to
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