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Carol Cooke Darrow, CG
Certified Genealogist
Denver, Colorado

Every Genealogical Search is Different

Every genealogical search is personal - whether you're looking for your great-grandparents or seeking credentials to join a lineage society. Every search is different and some are certainly easier than others. You may want to do your own research and don't know where to begin. Or you may have made a lot of progress until you hit a brick wall.

Unraveling your past requires a personal investment of time and money, too. If you've decided to do some research into your family history and need help, you can hire a professional researcher who can kick-start your research, resolve difficult identification problems, read antique handwriting, plat land holdings, and identify documents critical to your success. My goal for you is "Family Research on a Budget." Carol Cooke Darrow, CG, is a nationally certified genealogist who lectures on a variety of genealogy topics in the metro-Denver, Colorado area as well as Regional Genealogical Conferences.

Let me help you with research in:

  • Denver Public Library Genealogical Library (books and census records)
  • National Archives-Rocky Mountain Regional Repository, 17101 Huron Street, Broomfield, CO - I-25 and E. Baseline Rd, exit 229 (censuses)
  • Family History Centers (microfilm)
  • Colorado Historical Society (newspapers)
  • Colorado State Archives (records)

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Professional Research Services

Here are a few of the professional research services available

  • Begin your family research with basic information and a report (4 hours)
  • Create a research plan that you can follow on your own (1-2 hours)
  • Provide you with an introduction to Ancestry.com (1-2 hours)
  • Help with Family Tree Maker or Legacy software (1-2 hours)
  • Mentor a trip to the National Archives-Rocky Mountain Region office in the Federal Center or the Genealogical Department at the Denver Public Library. (2-4 hours)
  • Assist with writing projects to document your family history (4-12 hours)
  • Do look-ups and make photocopies from U.S. census records or Colorado marriages and obituaries. (1 hour)
Hourly rates start at $25 per hour.

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College Hill Lecture Schedule

College Hill Library
3705 West 112th Avenue
Westminster, Colorado

No classes May through August

September 5, 2015
1:30 - 3:30 pm
Introduction to Genealogy and Ancestry.com
Get to know Ancestry.com as a prime resource to do family research. Learn about the card catalog, census records, military, immigration and marriage records available online at Ancestry.com - free at College Hill Library, NARA, and Denver Public Libraries.
October 3, 2015
1:30 - 3:30 pm
U.S. Census Records, State Censuses, and Census Substitutes
Census records contain a vast amount of information - everything from birth dates to number of children born to a mother. You can learn about birth place, naturalization status, value of their real estate, home address, and whether your ancestors could read and write from census records taken from 1790-1940. States often took their own censuses.
November 7, 2015
1:30 - 3:30 pm
Marriage Records
Marriage records were kept by counties usually from the beginning of county organization. They can reveal the maiden name of female ancestors and open a new path to understanding these family relationships.
December 5, 2015
1:30 - 3:30 pm
Local Records Hold the Key to Your Family History
City directories can date back to the early days of a city. County histories, especially those written between 1876 and 1900, may identify your ancestors and the history, geography, and social organization of the area. Church records may add important information about births, deaths and marriages.
January 9, 2016 [to avoid New Year's weekend]
1:30 - 3:30 pm
Wills and Probate
Your ancestor may or may not have made a will - but there is probably a probate record for the distribution of his estate. That probate file may include the names of his heirs, an inventory of his possessions, and even law suits as heirs squabbled over the estate.
February 6, 2016
1:30 - 3:30 pm
Land, Lots of Land
The American continent offered land to entice immigrants from around the world. Land was given away by colonial governors, awarded as military bounty land, distributed by lottery, sold by cash sales by the U.S. government and distributed by the Homestead Act of 1862. How did your ancestor get land - and how much did he get?
March 5, 2016
1:30 - 3:30 pm
Measuring Land in Rectangular States
Your ancestor owned land at the north half of the southwest quarter and the west half of the southeast quarter of Section 18 in Township 1 South, Range 24 West of the 5th Principal Meridian in Arkansas. How can you find that place?
April 2, 2016
1:30 - 3:30 pm
Obituaries and Cemetery Records
Cemeteries have a history just as families do. Learning about the creation of local cemeteries and tombstone symbolism will help you find lost family members. Obituaries may add information about family relationships.

Free Genealogy Presentations

August 12, 2015
7 - 9 pm
Castle Garden and Ellis Island - New York Immigration Depots, 1855-1924
Pike's Peak Genealogical Society, Penrose Public Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, CO
September 17, 2015
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Finding 20th Century People
Larimer County Genealogical Society, Old Town Library, 201 Peterson St., Ft. Collins, CO
January 5, 2016
7 - 9 pm
Researching European Records Without a Passport
Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society, Highlands Ranch Public Library, 9292 S. Ridgeline Blvd., Highlands Ranch, CO
March 22, 2016
1 - 3 pm
Brick Wall or Picket Fence?
Aurora Genealogical Society, Aurora Public Library, 14949 E. Alameda Pkwy, Aurora, CO

WriteNOW Writing Group
Central (Downtown) Denver Public Library, 10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., Denver, CO, 5th floor, Gates Room
Sunday, 1:30 to 3:30 pm

September 13, 2015 Set personal goals. Discuss different types of genealogy writing including personal memoir. Assignment for October: Write 1-3 page story about a specific family member that you knew personally.
October 11, 2015 Share narratives. Assignment for November: Write a one-page narrative of one ancestor you did not know personally. Use the fill-in-the-blank form if you prefer.
November 8, 2015 Share your ancestor story. Discuss document preparation and footnotes. Assignment for December: Write an article about a holiday memory.
January 17, 2016 Bring and share your project outlines. Discuss publishing options. Assignment: Start writing on your project.
February 14, 2016 Discuss formatting issues for your project. Share your first draft and compare to outline. Assignment: Continue writing on your project.
March 13, 2016 Share your project work. Assignment: Continue work on your project.
April 10, 2016 Share your project progress, do revisions, discuss other aspects of project. Assignment: Complete your project.
May 15, 2016 Present your project to the group.


Southeastern Colorado Genealogical Society Seminar
Saturday, August 8, 2015
9 am - 4:00 pm
Carol Darrow will present three lectures: (1) Tracking Your Ancestors Across America; (2) Searching the Location for Key Records; (3) Why Did They Do What They Did?
$10 for SECGS members; $15 for non-members.

Rawlings Public Library, 100 E. Abriendo Ave. Pueblo, CO
Rocky Mountain Genealogical Seminar 2015
Saturday, October 17, 2015
10:00 am - 3:30 pm
Carol Darrow will present three lectures: (1) Researching Records in Your Ancestor's Home County; (2) The Three Cs, City Directories, County Histories, and Church Records; (3) Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together: Moving from Facts to Family History.

**The seminar is free but advanced registration is required.** Contact rmgs@crcgs.org.

Philip S. Miller Library, 100 S. Wilcox St., Castle Rock, Colorado, CO

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Lecture Topics

New Topics!

  • Breathing Life Into Your Ancestor. (all levels)
    Information such as occupation, education, even cause of death supplemented with newspaper stories, county histories, maps, journals and diaries can help you round out the picture of your ancestor and the world he lived in.

  • Castle Garden and Ellis Island: Immigrant doorways to New York and the U.S. (all Levels)
    Castle Garden opened as a New York City facility for processing the crowds of immigrants arriving between 1855 and 1890. Ellis Island, a federal immigrant receiving station replaced it in 1891.

  • Cemetery Symbolism. (all levels; non-genealogy groups)
    Deciphering the messages written in stone on tombstones can enrich your understanding of your ancestor.

  • Putting Your Research Into Writing. (intermediate - advanced)
    Whether you're writing a compiled genealogy or a family history, putting the facts on paper and bringing the ancestor to life can be challenging and fun.

  • Researching European Records Without a Passport. (intermediate - advanced)
    To succeed at European genealogy research, you must learn about the standard records of the country of your ancestors through websites, books, maps, and genealogy societies devoted to that country. The growing number of online resources will help to speed you on your way.

  • The Story’s In the Newspaper – If Only I Could Find It! (all levels)
    Newspapers offer a world of personal information about the events of our ancestors’ lives both happy and sad. The problem is that newspapers present a pretty big haystack. There are many new online resources available but success depends on finding the newspaper for the right date(s) and right location.

Additional topics which are currently available:

  • 10 Steps to Jump Start Your Genealogical Research. (beginner)
    Genealogy is a fascinating hobby that will make you part detective, part puzzle solver. Here are 10 steps to get you started.

  • Brick Wall or Picket Fence. (intermediate - advanced)
    The things that seem to be standing in the way of your genealogical research may be easy to overcome when you have carefully identified the road block and learned effective ways to overcome it.

  • Court Records: Defendants, Judges, Jurors, Debtors, Social History. (all levels)
    Court Records offer a lot of information about the community and the time period - and you will often see your ancestor in court as a plaintiff, defendant, witness, or juror.

  • Digging into Cemeteries. (beginner - intermediate)
    Use online tools to locate the final resting place for your ancestor and find obituaries.

  • Finding 20th Century People. (all levels)
    Have you lost track of cousins, schoolmates, military buddies? There are ways to use school yearbooks, city directories, birth, marriage, and death records to locate these long lost friends.

  • Finding Your Ancestor in the Tax Records. (intermediate - advanced)
    The census taker came once every ten years and often missed people. The tax collector came every year and seldom missed anyone.

  • Going Back in Time. (beginner - intermediate)
    Travel the time machine back to learn what events affected your ancestors and perhaps caused them to leave a record behind.

  • The Immigrant Experience. (beginner - intermediate)
    Leaving your home country to set sail for America was sometimes a wrenching decision. The trip was filled with dangers and hardship, and the welcome was not always friendly. Learn about your ancestor’s decision to leave the home country and the experience of journeying to America.

  • Location, Location, Location: The Key to Genealogical Success by Researching in Your Ancestor’s County (all levels)
    Most genealogy records are created on the local level so it’s vital that you learn as much as possible about the county boundaries, history, maps, population, geography, religions, crops, and occupations of your ancestor’s hometown. When you become an expert on that location, you will find the records you’re looking for.

  • The Naturalization Process. (intermediate - advanced)
    Becoming a citizen was not always easy and finding naturalization records can be a challenging task.

  • Not All Widows Have Dead Husbands. (intermediate - advanced)
    Our ancestors’ marriages are often idealized -- we think of them marrying for life and living happily ever after. But research often uncovers women living apart from their husbands, women abandoning their homes and families, and even divorcing or being divorced. Learn how to recognize and account for women who don't fit into the “married for life” model.

  • Organizing Your Genealogy is A State of Mind. (all levels)
    You're faced with a pile of documents, a camera card full of unlabeled photos, and more than one flash drive full of microfilm pages. When it's hard to know where to start organizing, you need to start with a goal and focus on a plan to meet that goal. Whether you’re planning a self-published family history, a journal and scrapbook for family enjoyment, a reunion presentation, or journal publications of case studies, deciding on your goal will dictate your direction and strategic plan.

  • Researching Back Before 1850. (intermediate - advanced)
    Don’t be discouraged when you learn that only the head of the household was named in censuses before 1850. You can use land records, tax records, wills and probate records, and Revolutionary War pension applications to flesh out the family.

  • Understanding U.S. Court Records (intermediate - advanced)
    The maze of courts and the numerous records may seem discouraging to a researcher, but there is treasure to be found. Jury lists can help to locate your ancestor, debt cases can explain your ancestor's financial position, road orders can provide location, and chancery records can explain settlement issues.

  • Using Census Records to Build Your Family Framework. (beginner)
    How to use census records and the amazing amount of information they contain.

  • Using Maps to Add Direction to Your Genealogy. (all levels)
    Maps come in all shapes and detail. Finding the right map can lead you all the way back to your ancestors.

  • Using Timelines to Solve Problems. (intermediate - advanced)
    Timelines can place people into historical context, they can separate people with the same names, and they can help to solve twisted document information.

  • Who Do You Think You Are? An Introduction to Genealogy. (beginner and non-genealogy groups)
    Start with yourself, your parents and your grandparents to gather information that will allow you to move backwards through census records, marriage, military, and immigration records to expand your family tree.

  • Why Did They Do What They Did? Social and Cultural Influences on Our Ancestors. (intermediate - advanced)
    People are affected by the belief system, the laws, the climate, and the technology, as well as religious and ethnic influences of the time they live in. We want to know why they do what they did.

  • Wills and Probate Records Point to Relationships. (beginner - intermediate)
    Learn how the administration and probate process can tell us about the life of the deceased and clarify family relationships.

  • Writing Up the Family Tree. (beginner and non-genealogy groups)
    Start with a goal and write one story at a time.

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Carol Cooke Darrow, Certified Genealogist

Carol Cooke Darrow, Certified GenealogistCarol Cooke Darrow is a Certified Genealogist who works as a lecturer and researcher. She has a degree in history from the University of Texas and has been a Certified Genealogist since 2005. She is the co-author of The Genealogist's Guide to Researching Tax Records published in 2007. She is available to present at your genealogical meetings nationwide. Her current schedule of lectures and presentations is listed above.

Genealogist's Guide to Researching Tax Records

Carol Cooke Darrow, CG, and Susan Winchester, Ph.D. and CPA, are co-authors of the Genealogist's Guide to Researching Tax Records. The book is a how-to guide to help you identify, locate, and understand the wealth of information available in these annual records. Tax records can be as helpful as census records in locating ancestors who lived before the first census in 1790 or who lived in areas with lost census records. The book was published by Heritage Books and is available at www.HeritageBooks.com

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Selected Genealogical Links
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