Best (free) software for historical research recommendations

If any of you are familiar with thebrain software, it provides the ability to map out very large entity relationships. There are other packages that organize events via a timeline (basically a calendar), making it easy to see the order in which events take place.

However, I can’t seem to find a package that combines the two.

I am looking at the moment at free versions, so if there is a package that does this but it is a feature that requires a paid license, that might be why I haven’t found it. Either that, or my search terms are incorrect.

Here’s what I want to do:

I want to gather information about a particular subject, and as I increase my knowledge, I can continue to expand on it. For example, I’ll use the US Civil War.

In something like “thebrain”, I can make a bubble saying “US History” and connected to that, I can make a bubble “US Civil War”. I can begin connecting battles, generals, or whatever to the topic. This is great. I can even put dates inside each entry, showing when it happened. Say “Gettysburg”, which happened on 1-3 July, 1863. Each Day can be divided into hours, each hour into minutes and so on. I can describe an event like Pickett’s Charge for 3 July 1863, 16:00. What I cannot seem to do is have the software create a timeline out of all events in the map, automatically.

Again with my example, my entry for General Reynolds will have his death recorded on 1 July, 1863 and maybe an estimate of his time of death (say 10 am).

When I am finished creating all of the relationship mapping, is there a way to create a timeline that shows each day in history and what happened on that day, without having to manually create the timeline? For example, could the software scan through each item in the map, find entries with dates and time, and create a picture of what happened on a day… So entry for 1 July would have something like "8 am, union and confederate forces meet outside Gettysburg. 10 am general Reynolds killed in action…etc.

Any time the battle of Gettysburg mapping is updated with a new entry, I could then create a new timeline representation with just a button push.
I know this may be unclear for folks that don’t know what I am asking for. It may be unclear for those that do.

If anyone has any suggestions for software, please let me know.

  1. I prefer a free package, that is open source (if I have to buy one, that’s fine, but I’d prefer a free one)
  2. I would like the software to do as much as possible in a single application. I don’t want to have to create a spreadsheet, for example, to manage dates, nor do I want to have to use a calendar app.
  3. I am hoping to use this for a research project, not for project management. Thinking more along the lines of a history research project, where bits and pieces of information will come in from various sources, so they need to be added in quickly and easily.

What is nice about thebrain software is you can link pictures, webpages, pdf files, etc to strengthen the thought. It makes it much easier to find something that you may have found months ago and put away.

I don’t care who makes the software, I’m just trying to find something easy and intuitive to use.

Thanks for any help.

I’m not sure if there is anything out there that will produce exactly what you want. You may have to utilize a piece of software’s “API” (Application Programming Interface) to do everything you want. Sadly, it does not look like TheBrain has an API. I found several posts on other fora wherein the lack of an API for TheBrain was loudly lamented.

Other mind-mapping software may have APIs that will allow you to do what you want. Of course, you will have to know something about programming to utilize them.

Thanks for your reply.

I was afraid of this. I have done some digging and couldn’t find a solution. I was hoping I was either not using the right terminology, or flat-out missed it.

I cannot believe I am the only one who would find this useful. I’ve read some user boards discussing integration with a calendar app, but still, not what I need.

I am not even joking in that two of my colleagues were discussing this exact same concept yesterday! They wanted a whole world wikipedia-like version where you could go to the world map and choose a year and zoom in by both time (months/days) as well as by geography (continent country state city). Borders would morph in real time.

Mousing over would pop up lists of events in the selected criteria.
Sub map buttons could select: major events, major characters (lives), conflicts, natural disasters, technological advances, etc.

Search for ‘Lincoln’ for instance would pop up US>1842-1865 and then you could click play or something and watch his journey by arrows with mouse over.
Eventually all links would bounce you out to wikipedia

They concluded it had to be a wiki because they wanted a fully expansive and immersive history tool.
I think it would be phenomenally cool and build immensely upon those infamous middle school history map coloring exercises.

Maybe just use Google Maps overlays to start and choose something popular like the civil war or WWII and I’m sure that various message boards would help you start to populate and define what type (classes) of information to include.