Welcome to Sole Searching Genealogy!

Based in the Denver Metro Area, Colorado, USA

solesearching@EllenKowitt.com

Created with Wix.com © 2019

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ELLEN KOWITT

The story behind the company name "Sole Searching" is personal. Ellen's paternal great grandfather manufactured shoes for the Russian army, and she's been following in the footprints of his life story for many years. Intentionally spelling "Sole" to reflect the sole of a leather shoe like the one Yosef Shindelman produced in the early 1900s, it also represents every individual pursuit of a family's unique journey.  

Ellen is a veteran Jewish records researcher and leader in genealogy activities worldwide. She has the capacity to complete projects solo or to recruit the right team of experts to collaborate and deliver outstanding results. Her lectures and articles are informative, energetic, and constantly evolving to provide current and relevant content for all types of audiences.

As a volunteer in the genealogy world for 25 years, Ellen has held numerous leadership roles, organized records acquisition, indexed, and managed translation projects in the United States and abroad. 

Ellen continues to add to her knowledge toolbox by attending professional conferences, webinars, and genealogy institutes, and she follows the genealogical proof standard and code of ethics in her research and reporting.

Ellen loves helping others to discover connections, break through brick walls, or learn something new to add to their family story. She is dedicated and provides high quality work informed by her volunteer experience, a valuable peer network, and her professional marketing and communications background with corporations and nonprofit organizations in New York, Washington DC, and Colorado.  

References are available upon request.

AFFILIATIONS:

-Colorado Chapter, Association of Professional   Genealogists; current vice president

-International Association of Jewish Genealogy   Societies; former elected director, 2019 Nominating   Committee Chair and Outreach Committee

-Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado; past president,

 current outreach chair

-Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, DC; past   president and vp programming

-Israel Genealogy Research Association

-Yahad Colorado Advisory Committee

-National Genealogical Society

-Indian Peaks Chapter, NSDAR

-Erie, Colorado Historical Society

SELECT ARTICLES BY ELLEN:

Town Finding Aid Created for Novohrad-Volynskyi District Revision Lists on Krakovsky Website, Aug. 19,2019 Lara Diamond's Jewnealogy Blog

Jewish Resources on the Giants: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com, Aug 2019 Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy with Sunny Morton

Yahad-In Unum Documents Holocaust Mass Gravesites in Nine CountriesFeb 2019 Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy

A Colorado Immigrant's Tale of Three Husbands, Feb 2018 Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy with Karen Franklin

Mass Graves: Babi Yar and Former Soviet Territory SitesMar 13, 2009 Jewish Graveyard Rabbit Blog

Colorado: Tuberculosis Victims' Graves, Records,  Jan 3, 2009 Jewish Graveyard Rabbit Blog

Twenty-five Years and Nine Name Changes Later: How I Found My Great GrandmotherDec 1, 2008 Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy

Trip to Volhynia, Aug 1999 JewishGen.org

Linking Genealogists to Jewish Communities in the Former Soviet UnionSep 1998 Mishpacha: Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington (DC) Reprinted by Belarus SIG February 1999

HONORS & AWARDS:

-Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado Appreciation Award   2012, 2009

-Linda Fenner Young Women's Leadership Award, Denver 

-IAJGS Stern Award to Index JCRS Patient Application   Records at the University of Denver

-IAJGS Program Award: Outstanding Programming that   Advances the Objectives of Jewish Genealogy

​-Rose Community Foundation Jewish Life Grant for JGSCO

-Rose Community Foundation Limmud Grant for JGSCO

RECENT PROJECTS:

Lyubar, Ukraine Town Research on KehilaLinks

Novograd-Volynsk Yizkor Book Translation

Novograd-Volynsk Revision List Indexing 1812-1874

Colorado State Archives Probate & Naturalization Indexing 

Produced JGSCO Promotional Video

 

DINA CARSON

Publisher, Irongate Publishing

I highly recommend Ellen as a genealogical researcher, analyst and speaker. She is skilled in all types of research but has a much needed specialty in Jewish genealogical research. If you need to find an immigrant ancestor, or be able to trace an ancestor back to "the old country" in particular Eastern Europe, then Ellen is the professional researcher you want. 

KAREN FRANKLIN

Independent Museums Professional

I've worked together with Ellen on genealogy projects for many years. She not only brings to her clients enthusiasm and interest, but also experience and extensive knowledge of sources. Ellen has the ability to integrate research into a larger history, local and international.

ARTHUR KURZWEIL

Author, From Generation to Generation

Ellen is a knowledgeable and skilled genealogical researcher who is highly  admired among her peers. In addition, Ellen is a wonderful public speaker. I recommend her most enthusiastically both as a researcher and a teacher/speaker in the world of Jewish genealogy.

 

MARTY DUBIN

Client, Denver, Colorado

My 91-year old mother, whose father

had died when she was 14, knew

nothing about how he got to Colorado, how he started his clothing store, and who or where the rest of his family resided. Ellen interviewed my mother with sensitivity and respect. Ellen answered my mother's questions and so much more, and all the documents and pictures she found were so exciting to see. We can't thank her enough.

CAROLYN LEHMANN

Client, Thornton, Colorado

Ellen had a thoughtful and calm demeanor as she demonstrated her significant knowledge of genealogy. She navigated and enhanced my family tree using online resources and then downloaded a GEDCOM file to my desktop. She skillfully identified and integrated marriage and other vital records for my German Jewish family. After 10 hours of work, my tree has grown exponentially and many questions have been answered. I look forward to learning more!

JOANN ADVENSKY

Client, Manchester, New Jersey

I needed help with researching my American family with UK and Italian roots, and Ellen was a terrific resource for troubleshooting. She knows how to access most online records, and when she doesn’t, she knows the right people who do. Ellen is thorough and conscientious. You can tell she really loves researching and connecting people to their roots.

STEPH MILLER

Client, Lafayette, Colorado

She is extremely knowledgeable! I learned a lot from her presentation.

I am excited she is doing this and will definitely hire her on my research where I am stuck. You won't regret

working with her.

MARTY DUBIN

Client, Denver, Colorado

Ellen does amazing work. When I worked as a rabbi in Colorado, she was the person that people turned to for information about Jewish genealogy. Knowledgeable and approachable, she was excellent at sharing with people the excitement of understanding their own past. She's a wonderful speaker and teacher.

BETSY ROBERTS

Client, Broomfield, Colorado

Ellen analyzed information we received about my father's adoption and was able to create a large family tree on his mother's side using traditional genealogical research techniques. But the really cool part was her use of DNA testing to narrow down who my grandfather was.

RABBI JOSH ROSE

Cong. Shaarie Torah, Portland, OR

FUTURE SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS 

November 21, 2019 - Boulder Jewish Community Center, Facilitating Ellis Island Stories

January 13, 2020 - Anthem Ranch Genealogy Club, Broomfield, Secrets to Researching Jewish Genealogy Revealed

January 26, 2020 - Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado, Denver, Mile High Resources: Researching Colorado Records

January 29, 2020Aurora Rotary Club, What Would Nancy Drew Do in The Quest for Missing Family

February 4, 2020 - Boulder Jewish Community Center, Lunch n' Learn, What's Jewish About Jewish Genealogy

March 1, 2020 - Jewish Genealogy Society of Conejo Valley, CA, Comparing Jewish Resources on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Findmypast, MyHeritage and JewishGen

March 3, 2020 - Highlands Ranch Genealogy Society, What Would Nancy Drew Do in The Quest for Missing Family

March 11, 2020 - Boulder Jewish Community Center, Lunch n' Learn, Exploring DNA Testing, Privacy & Implications

April 12, 2020 - Jewish War Veterans, Denver, JGSCO Outreach in a Box

May 5, 2020 - Pikes Peak Genealogy Society, Colorado Springs, What Would Nancy Drew Do in The Quest for Missing Family

May 17, 2020 - Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, DC, Comparing Jewish Resources on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Findmypast, MyHeritage and JewishGen

May 21, 2020 - Erie Public Library at Wise Homestead Museum, Mile High Resources: Researching Colorado Records

May 31, 2020 - Temple Emanuel, Denver, JGSCO Outreach in a Box

Date TBD 2020 - Estes Park Genealogy SocietyWhat Would Nancy Drew Do in The Quest for Missing Family

Date TBD 2020 - Weld County Genealogy Society, Greeley, Update 2020: Planting Your Family Tree for the Next Generation

TENT. August, 2020 - IAJGS Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, Lectures TBD

PAST SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS 

November 7, 2019Weld County Genealogy Society, Greeley, What Would Nancy Drew Do in The Quest for Missing Family

October 26, 2019 - Castle Rock Genealogy Society, What Would Nancy Drew Do in The Quest for Missing Family

August 2, 2019 - IAJGS Annual Conference, Cleveland, OH, What Would Nancy Drew Do in The Quest for Missing Mishpacha

July 28, 2019 - IAJGS Annual Conference, Cleveland, OH, Comparing Jewish Resources on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Findmypast, MyHeritage and JewishGen with Sunny Morton

June 20, 2019 - Protecting Memory Project Memorial Opening Ceremonies, Lyubar, Ukraine, A Jewish Family Story Over 200 Years in Lyubar: Remembering My Grandfather's Roots

November-December, 2018 - Yahad-In Unum at Boulder Jewish Community Center, Docent for 14 Holocaust By Bullets Exhibit Tours

October 7, 2018Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado, Denver, Warsaw 2018 Conference Roundup Facilitator

August 8, 2018 - IAJGS Annual Conference, Warsaw, Poland, Everyone Didn't Die in the Holocaust: A 2018 Warsaw Jewish Family Reunion

May 9, 2018 - Longmont Genealogy SocietyWhat Would Nancy Drew Do in The Quest for Missing Family

February 14, 2018 - Pikes Peak Genealogy SocietyPlanting Your Family Tree for the Next Generation Utilizing Technology and Creativity

December 5, 2017 - Boulder Genealogy Society, Jewish Genealogy for the Non-Jewish Researcher

July 23, 2017 - IAJGS Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, Outreach for Societies and Organization Leaders

April 15, 2017Adventure Judaism Passover Retreat, Moab, Utah, Curious about how to research your family history?

March 13, 2017 - Anthem Ranch Genealogy Society, Polish and Ukrainian Research

July 14, 2016 - Estes Park Genealogy Society, Planting Your Family Tree for the Next Generation Utilizing Technology and Creativity

June 3, 2016 - Bonai Shalom Synagogue, Boulder, What's Jewish About Jewish Genealogy

May 19, 2016 - Larimer Genealogy SocietyPlanting Your Family Tree for the Next Generation Utilizing Technology and Creativity

April 16, 2016 - Boulder Chapter Hadassah Parlor Event, Genealogy and Small Plates

November 14, 2015 - What are you Waiting For? Getting Started Tracing Your Jewish Family History Now

November 11, 2015 - Longmont Genealogy SocietyPlanting Your Family Tree for the Next Generation Utilizing Technology and Creativity

July 30, 2014 - IAJGS Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Tracing Jews Who Coughed Their Way West

February 9, 2014 - Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado, Strategies for Success: Researching Outside of the U.S.

December 2, 2012 - Back to the Basics in Jewish Genealogy

Fall, 2011Hebrew Education Alliance, Denver, Jewish Family Tree Initiative (JFTI) - a series of 6-8 beginner lectures presented as adult education

June 24, 2011 - Family History Expo, Loveland, CO, What's Jewish About Jewish Genealogy

January 13, 2011 - Boulder Jewish Community Center, What's Jewish About Jewish Genealogy

January 6, 2011 - Weld County Genealogy SocietyWhat's Jewish About Jewish Genealogy

December 5, 2010 - Jewish Community Center, Denver, Colorado Resources Panel

Fall, 2010Congregation Emanuel, Denver, Jewish Family Tree Initiative (JFTI) - a series of 6-8 beginner lectures presented as adult education

January 2010 - Highlands Ranch Havurah, What's Jewish About Jewish Genealogy

January 17, 2010 - Denver Chapter Hadassah, Secrets to Researching Jewish Genealogy Revealed

November 24, 2009 - LEA Chapter Hadassah, Denver, Researching Your Family History: What Can You Expect to Find

October 18, 2009 - Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society, CO History Museum, Kid's Program

Fall, 2009Temple Sinai, Denver, Jewish Family Tree Initiative (JFTI) - a series of 6-8 beginner lectures presented as adult education

May 24, 2009 - Limmud Colorado, Colorado Springs, Getting Started Tracing Your Jewish Roots

April 26, 2009 - Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado, Denver, Beginner's Workshop

September 13,2008 - Parker Genealogy Society, Planning a Trip to the Old Country

Fall, 2008 Congregation Har HaShem, Boulder, Jewish Family Tree Initiative (JFTI) - a series of 6-8 beginner lectures presented as adult education

May 16, 2008 - Limmud Colorado, Keystone Ski Resort, Getting Started Tracing Your Jewish Roots

September 2007 - Boulder Genealogy Society, 

May 20, 2007Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado, Denver, Beginner's Workshop

February 11, 2007Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado, Denver, Threading a Genealogical Tapestry on JewishGen

August 17, 2006 - IAJGS Annual Conference, New York CityResources for Tracing Jews with Tuberculosis

August 13, 2006- IAJGS Annual Conference, New York City, IAJGS Management Sub Seminar

April 17, 2005Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado, Denver, Beginner's Workshop

March 15, 2005 - Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado, Online Access to Washington, DC Area Records

April 18, 2004 - Congregation Emanuel, Denver, Beginner's Workshop

July, 2003 - IAJGS Annual Conference, Washington, DC, Family Newsletters as a Genealogy Tool

July, 2000 - IAJGS Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Managing the Large & Small JGS: A Workshop on Challenges

July, 2000 - IAJGS Annual Conference Ukraine SIG Lunch, My Trips to Ukraine 

1999 - Tracing Your Family Roots Cable Access TV, Northern Virginia, Research and Travel in Ukraine

1998 - Tracing Your Family Roots Cable Access TV, Northern Virginia, Having a Family Newsletter

OTHER AVAILABLE PRESENTATIONS

Can be developed upon request.

- Jewish Genealogy Demystified (for genealogists who aren’t Jewish)

- Reasons Why I Do Genealogy and Why You Might Want To
- Ukraine 2020: Update Your Research Plan
- Documenting Jewish Families or Communities Lost in the Holocaust By Bullets 

- Revisiting Jewish Cantonist History in the Russian Empire <in development>

 
 

My rate is typically $50 per hour. A 50% deposit is required before work commences. The balance is due at time of delivery.

20 Hour Minimum:

  • Records collection analysis

  • Family history research to record and document ancestors or relatives

  • Creation/revision of an online family tree and/or GEDCOM formatted file

  • Historical research for community or family history context

  • Written narrative or presentation materials for a family reunion

  • Special projects​​

5 Hour Minimum:

  • One-on-one instruction to guide your research

  • Document retrieval from repositories based in Colorado

  • Interviews of relatives or landsman

Other Service Rates:

  • Translation of a Jewish gravestone in Hebrew or Yiddish: $18-$72 

  • Lineage applications: $150-$200

  1. Develop a focused research objective. You may have several objectives but only one question will be researched at a time.

  2. Provide all information and previous research you have on this subject.

  3. I will send you a basic contract that specifies the research objective and the number of hours of work you authorize. 

  4. A signed research agreement and a 50% deposit are required to begin work.

  5. Additional expenses are billed at cost and include subcontractors, document fees, copies, postage, repository research fees, parking, mileage in excess of 35 miles, and tolls.

  6. Unless otherwise specified, you will receive a report with copies of all documentation and recommendations for further research. 

 

As a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, I adhere to the APG Code of Ethics.

1. You’re Frustrated and Have Been for Some Time

Professional genealogists, who specialize in a specific subject or area, are well acquainted with a wide variety of sources that a less experienced genealogist may overlook.

2. You’re Tired of Spending Money and Getting Little Reward

Hiring a genealogist can save you money in the long run. If you’ve been at it for a while you’ve probably spent countless dollars on database subscription fees, courses, books, software, supplies and maybe even travel. While all of these things provide a great deal of value, they can add up and, if you’re not finding the answers you need, it may make sense to spend the money where it really counts – on someone who knows just where to look.

 

3. You’ve Hit a Major Brick Wall

Sometimes it takes a trained eye to get a family tree back on track. A professional genealogist has the knowledge and experience necessary to solve confusing puzzles. And allowing fresh eyes to methodically examine your brick wall allows new information to surface. Professional genealogists are an excellent resource to validate research passed down by other family members or to verify work you have completed yourself. Not only can they make new discoveries, but they have also been trained, utilizing the Genealogical Proof Standard, to analyze and interpret existing evidence, which may lead to new conclusions. They are experienced in working with specific information on a variety of record types over various time periods.

 

4. You Need Someone With Specialized Knowledge

Understanding the culture and social customs during a specific time period is key when completing any genealogical research project. In many cases, there is no one vital record to answer our genealogical questions and the experience of a professional in consulting multiple record types can be invaluable. Without an understanding of the history and context of the records created during a given time period, one could draw false conclusions or miss information altogether. A professional resource to guide you through historical changes in boundaries, governments, languages and laws for your specific project is crucial.

 

5. You Don’t Have the Time or Money to Travel in Search of Obscure Documents

With advances in technology and online genealogical databases over the past 20 years, census and other vital records are now widely available to the public, leading some to wrongly assume that if it can’t be found online, it does not exist. This is a mistake. Digital resources can only get you so far.

 

Only a small percentage of records are available online compared to the number that are still held in local or state repositories. In many cases the only way to find information is to access original records on-site and it could be those hidden gems that finally reveal the details you’ve been hoping for. Unfortunately, this requires time and travel and can become very expensive.

 

It is very often more cost effective to hire a local professional researcher on the ground. A local researcher is well versed in which records and which repository will likely hold the answers to the research question at hand. They understand the language, but can also navigate the local customs, laws and boundary changes.

 

6. You’re Not Taking Advantage of Everything DNA Has to Offer

Genetic genealogy is an ever-growing field, and most of us are baffled by what to do with our results beyond scrolling through our matches and trying to figure out why we show up as 3% Ashkenazi Jewish. Understanding how to combine scientific and historical documentation can be a stumbling block for those of us who are passionate about genealogy.

 

Genetic genealogists are trained in how to utilize your DNA data to aid you in solving your genealogical puzzles. Because genetic genealogy requires a distinct skill set from traditional genealogical research, it may be of value to seek the help of an expert to determine kinship.