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.

My goal for you is "Family Research on a Budget." 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. As a professional genealogist, I am qualified to do that research.

"Carol is a very experienced genealogist and she has a way of sharing her experience with her audience that informs, entertains, and challenges them to look deeper into their own family histories. Anyone, even non-genealogists, who have the opportunity to hear her speak should not pass up the chance to do so." -- Brad Morrison, Castle Rock

Carol Cooke Darrow, Professional Genealogist

Carol Cooke Darrow, Professional Genealogist
Carol Cooke Darrow is a professional genealogist who works as a lecturer and researcher. She has a degree in history from the University of Texas and 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 below.

Genealogist's Guide to Researching Tax RecordsCarol Cooke Darrow and Susan Winchester 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

Let me help you with research in:

  • Denver Public Library (Central Branch) Genealogical Library (books and census records)
  • National Archives-Rocky Mountain Regional Repository, 17101 Huron Street, Broomfield
  • 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)
  • Identify hidden family members through DNA analysis (4-30 hours)
  • Help with Family Tree Maker or Legacy software (1-2 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 $35 per hour.

    Free Research Services

    Canceled until further notice due to Covid-19 precautions. I offer free research services at these two locations:

  • Central (Downtown) Denver Public Library, Tuesdays, 10 am - 1 pm
  • National Archives (I-25 North at Hwy. 7), Thursdays, 9:00 am - 4 pm
  • "Listening to Carol's presentations and her advice allowed me to successfully conduct the initial research of the family trees of both my father and mother. Her guidance and encouragement helped me write a book about my mother's genealogy--much of which had been lost with the family's emigration to the U.S." -- Sandra Gill, Thornton

    Presentations and Lectures

    College Hill Lecture Schedule

    College Hill Library
    3705 West 112th Avenue
    Westminster, Colorado
    No classes May through August

    Date Topic Location
    Jan. 4, 2020
    1:30 - 3:30 pm
    DNA – Fad, Fiction or Fact?
    A DNA test will tell you where in the world your ancestors came from and the test will also identify living people who share those same ancestors. It’s a brave new world out there—have you joined yet?
    College Hill Library
    Feb. 1, 2020
    1:30 - 3:30 pm
    Researching Your English and European Ancestors Without a Passport
    Successful research overseas includes tracing your family backward to identify the original immigrant. You will have to learn about changing country boundaries, the whys and wherefores of European records, history of the country, church records, and laws governing military service and emigration.
    College Hill Library
    Mar. 7, 2020
    1:30 - 3:30 pm
    Passenger Lists and Naturalization Papers
    Finding your family on a passenger list (1820-1960) can be a challenge. Many lists were lost or are unreadable. Most before 1900 did not offer much personal information. Likewise, naturalization papers before 1905 do not offer much personal information. But finding them is exciting and can add important information to their story.
    College Hill Library
    Apr. 4, 2020
    1:30 - 3:30 pm
    City directories can date back to the early days of a city and place your ancestors at a specific location. County histories, especially those written between 1876 and 1900, may identify your ancestors and the history, geography, and social organization of the area. Tax records may reveal the wealth of your ancestor. Church records may add important information about births, deaths and marriages. College Hill Library

    Free Beginning Genealogy Class [ZOOM Meetings]

    Event/Date Location
    All Beginning Genealogy classes are on ZOOM. Register to visit the Beginning Genealogy group at Beginning Genealogy ZOOM Registration (thru the Colorado Genealogical Website) and you will receive a link to enter the meeting.
    2nd Saturday of every month, 10:00 am – noon
    Free practice following each meeting from noon – 2:00 pm
    ZOOM meeting until further notice

    Free Genealogy Presentations [ZOOM meetings]

    Event/Date Topic Location
    Thursday, December 3, 2020
    6:30 pm
    Holiday Traditions. (ZOOM Presentation requires pre-registration) Contact Larimer Genealogical Society directly for link to this meeting: Larimer Genealogical Society
    Tuesday, January 26, 2021
    10:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Breathing Life Into Your Ancestor. (ZOOM Presentation requires pre-registration) Contact Aurora Genealogical Society directly for link to this meeting: Aurora Genealogical Society
    Tuesday, February 2, 2021
    10:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Naturalization Process. (ZOOM Presentation requires pre-registration) Contact Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society directly for link to this meeting: Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society

    WriteNOW Writing Group [ZOOM Meetings]

    On ZOOM as of July 1, 2020 until further notice. Register to visit the WriteNOW group at WriteNOW ZOOM Registration (thru the Colorado Genealogical Website) and you will receive a link to enter the meeting.
    On ZOOM thru the Colorado Genealogical Society website
    Sunday, 1:30 to 3:30 pm on ZOOM You must register first to enter the ZOOM meeting.

    Event/Date Topic Location
    Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020 Set personal goals. Discuss different types of genealogy writing including personal memoir, family newsletters, cookbooks, scrapbooks, collection of vignettes, family histories. Assignment for October: Write a 1-3 page story about a specific family member using a topic sentence to interest the reader, perhaps dealing with a genealogical puzzle. Use the fill-in-the-blank form if you wish. ZOOM meeting until further notice
    Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020 Discuss basics of narrative writing and hooks for attracting your audience. Assignment for November: Select a project and create an outline for your project. ZOOM meeting until further notice
    Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020 Review outlines for your project. Discuss scope of story, length, gaps in history. Assignment: Start writing on your project. ZOOM meeting until further notice
    Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 Discuss various ways, viewpoints for telling your story and controlling length. ZOOM meeting until further notice
    Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021 Discuss formatting issues, page numbers, section breaks and book design for your project. Share your first draft and compare to outline. Assignment: Continue writing on your project. ZOOM meeting until further notice
    Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021 Discuss photo editing (including converting to grayscale) and copyright issues. Assignment: Continue writing on your project. ZOOM meeting until further notice
    Sunday, March 14, 2021 Discuss electronic publishing (e.g. Lulu.com) and the many specific decisions you need to make. Bring your project in progress for editing. Assignment: Continue work on your project. ZOOM meeting until further notice
    Sunday, April 11, 2021 Bring your project in progress; do revisions; discuss other aspects of project. Assignment: Complete your project. ZOOM meeting until further notice
    Sunday, May 16, 2021 3rd Sunday in May Present your project to the group. ZOOM meeting until further notice


    Event/Date Topic Location
    TBA . .

    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.

  • Migration Trails Across America (all levels)
    Whether seeking gold, freedom or more land, Americans moved across the continent. As new territories opened up, people felt the need to move westward.

  • Advertising for Settlers (all levels)
    Starting with handbills promoting the fruits available by planting in Virginia in 1609, advertisers have promoted immigration, cheap land, easy transportation to the gold fields, and steady work in America. Advertising worked as a steady flow of immigrants came knocking on the golden door.

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

  • Pushing and Pulling Forces Out of the British Isles. (all levels)
    Emigration is the process of leaving one’s country of residence to live elsewhere. Immigration is the process of moving to a new homeland. The new homeland may be a matter of chance, opportunity, invitation, or desire. There is a push/pull effect – reasons why someone would feel the need to leave their homeland and reasons that would attract emigrants to a particular new home.

  • Land, Lots of Land (all levels)
    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?

  • 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.

  • Connecting the Dots: Using Timelines, Comparison Charts and FAN Charts to Identify Your Ancestor. (all levels)
    Collecting and recording information about your ancestor on specialized charts and timelines can help you clear up the confusion and clarify the story of your ancestor.

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Research Starts With a Plan. (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. The plan may include a file folder system, an index of your photos, a timeline of the life of an ancestor, or a tracking chart of records for an ancestor.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • "I always learn something new when you are the speaker!" -- Susan Seager, Weld County

    Selected Genealogical Links

    Unraveling Your Past Business Card