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. Read about a chilling, yet inspiring success story.
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. She has completed the ProGen study program, and Ellen keeps the APG code of ethics in the forefront of her research and reporting.
Helping others to discover connections, break through brick walls, or learn something new to add to a family story are the goals. Ellen 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.
As an experienced genealogy researcher, educator, and author, Ellen will discover connections and add to your unique Jewish family story. Select clients are accepted for short-term or retainer projects.
-JewishGen; Director of USA Research Division
-Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR); National Vice Chair Jewish Specialty Research
-Colorado Chapter, Association of Professional Genealogists; past vice president and interim president
-International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies; past elected director
-Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado; past president
-Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, DC; past president
-New York Genealogical & Biographical Society
RECENT ARTICLES & PUBLICATIONS:
"Colorado Research Guide." Family Tree Magazine, November/December 2023.
America's Alligator Family: The David Crystal Story. May 2023. Available on Lulu: softcover or hardcover versions.
Article featuring Ellen Kowitt by Megan Hamby, "Identifying and Recognizing Jewish Patriots: Committee Helps Members, Prospects Unearth Genealogical Treasure." Daughters of the American Revolution American Spirit Magazine, January/February 2023.
Book review of David Watson Kruger’s "Families of the Diaspora: Alkalay, Behmoiras, Merenzón, Barcan" in National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), December 2022.
“Jewish Roots Online” chapter within the Ultimate Genealogy Websites Guide E-book published by Family Tree Magazine.
"Plans to Grow the JewishGen USA Research Division." Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, June 2021.
"Strategies for Navigating Jewish Family Research." Family Tree Magazine The Genealogy Insider Blog Guest Author, May 20, 2021.
"Finding Your Jewish Roots Online." Family Tree Magazine, May/June 2021.
"The Case of the Missing Ancestors: 8 Genealogy Tips from Nancy Drew." Family Tree Magazine, Jan/Feb 2021.
"Jewish DNA? 8 Strategies." Diahan Southard's Your DNA Guide Blog Guest Author, Dec. 10, 2020.
"Bridging Daughters of the American Revolution and Jewish Genealogists" Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Fall 2020.
"How to Build a Genealogy Sleuth Kit." Family Tree Magazine The Genealogy Insider Blog Guest Author, Aug. 27, 2020.
"First NSDAR Jewish Task Force Launches." DAR Registrar General Sunrays Blog Guest Author, July 24, 2020.
"Town Finding Aid Created for Novohrad-Volynskyi District Revision Lists on Krakovsky Website." Lara Diamond's Jewnealogy Blog Guest Author, Aug. 19, 2019.
"Jewish Resources on the Giants: Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com." Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Aug. 2019, with Sunny Morton.
"Yahad-In Unum Documents Holocaust Mass Gravesites in Nine Countries." Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Feb. 2019.
"A Colorado Immigrant's Tale of Three Husbands." Avotaynu: International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Feb 2018 with Karen Franklin.
HONORS & AWARDS:
-UGA Jimmy B. Parker Scholarship Award for SLIG 2021
-Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado Appreciation Awards 2012, 2009
-Linda Fenner Young Women's Leadership Award, Denver, 2009
-Rose Community Foundation Limmud Grant for JGSCO, 2007
-IAJGS Stern Award to Index JCRS Patient Application Records at the University of Denver, 2003
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Publisher, Irongate Publishing
I highly recommend Ellen as a genealogical researcher, analyst, writer and speaker. She is skilled in all types of research but has a much needed specialty in Jewish genealogy. I recently worked with Ellen on a book project, and she was able to answer so many questions for the family with her research, and then craft the genealogical details into a narrative that is unforgetable.
Genealogy Columnist and Educator
I've collaborated with Ellen as a presenter for international audiences. She is a brilliant speaker: so easy to listen to, organized and thorough. Her encyclopedic knowledge of Jewish resources is stunning! I also enjoy her contributions to Family Tree Magazine.
JNF National Campaign Director, Major Gifts
I have deep appreciation for Ellen’s incredible participation helping frame our multi-generational weekend. Her expert touch marked our retreat with deep intellect, knowledge and respect for our ancestors and their desire to create for us a strong, meaningful life. Ellen’s passion for her subject matter and personal stories were presented beautifully and allowed all to relate to her words and history. Ellen is a consummate professional whom I am very proud to now call my friend.
Client, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Ellen is an extraordinary genealogist. We had several topics that were sensitive for different family members, which she handled like a pro. Our family history has both Russian Jewish roots and English Mayflower roots. We were so inspired by what she uncovered that we decided to put our story into book format for future generations to read. We highly recommend Ellen.
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.
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 and locate my dad's living half-brother!
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.
Director of Family History, Leo Baeck Institute, New York City
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.
RABBI JOSH ROSE
Founder & Director of Co/Lab: Reimagine Jewish, Portland, Oregon
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.
A variety of topics offered are informative and educational.
Content is flexible and can be delivered as stand-alone lecture, ongoing course, workshop,
mentoring, or other formats.
Ellen will travel out of state, conduct live webinars, or provide mp4 recordings.
For established topics, the base speaking fee is $200-$300. The standard length is
20-60 minutes with an optional Q&A period and handout.
$100 will be added to the base fee for Zoom or Room events that are recorded and made
available for up to one year behind a paywall on a password-protected member website.
For Colorado presentations: $50 will be added for venues located over 30 miles away.
For out of state lectures, please inquire about travel expenses.
New topics can be developed upon request and are priced higher than the base.
Additional fees are added for workshop or multi-day event formats, lengthier presentation
slots, large audiences, and rush engagements.
All handouts, slides, recordings, and script are copyright protected.
UPCOMING 2024 PRESENTATIONS - updated 11/12/2023
January 28, 2024 - JGS Maryland Webinar, U.S. Synagogue Records as a Genealogical Resource
February 29-March 2, 2024 - RootsTech, Salt Lake City, UT, The Quest for Hidden Ancestors: Genealogy Tips From Nancy Drew; Yosef, Yosel, Yekhiel, Joe: Navigating the Complexities of Jewish Given Names; and U.S. Synagogue Records as Genealogical Resource
March 13, 2024 - Family Tree Webinars, U.S. Synagogue Records as a Genealogical Resource
March 21, 2024 - JGS Palm Beach County Webinar, tbd
April 21, 2024 - JGS Orange County Webinar, New Jewish Resources on the Genealogy Giant Websites
June 15, 2024 - Castle Rock Genealogical Society Webinar, Shoestring Strategies for the Thrifty Genealogist