Originally Posted by HumnHilghtFreel
What services do you guys use to find these things out? I've always been interested in researching this kind of thing for my family.
There are many ways to approach geneaology.
To begin, I think it is best to ask your family (parents, uncles, any older relatives that are still living) what they know. Even if they just know parts of names or "about" dates, that kind of information can be valuable, and you should start gathering as much of it as you can find. (And you never know when someone might say "Oh, my cousin John Doe has done a lot of that on my family." Maybe you will be lucky and be able to benefit from research someone has already done in your family.)
I guess the next step depends on where you live & where your ancestors lived. I was lucky that my dad's family has been in the same county since at least 1841, so I was able to go to the local clerk's office & historical society and find a lot of information.
If you know where some of your family lived, one place to check would be census records. I believe the 1930 census is now available. Ask a local library or historical society what information they have, or where they think you can find this information. It can be a bit time consuming (depending on how much information you have already) & hard on the eyes, but if you can find a couple straight census records showing family records in a certain county, that can provide good information.
If you can figure out where your ancestors lived & approximate time frames, check local historical societies & libraries to see what kind of records they have, including books, microfilm, etc.
There are also a lot of services online, including pay services like ancestry.com and free services like rootsweb.com. There are probably others as well, but if you know a state (and preferably a county) where your ancestors were, you can check out that information on these websites. I haven't used the paysites much (I think geneaology.com is another), so I can't vouch for them, but perhaps they have a free-trial period you can use.
Sorry this is so long, but to reiterate, I suggest you start by talking with family members to see what they might remember/know and then use the web, or, depending on distance, local libraries/historical societies to help you find more information. Census records are very helpful as well, if you know where to start from in them (state/county/precinct).
Good luck to you. It can be a fascinating hobby, but be prepared for dead ends & possible frustration as well. I've found that my g-g-g grandfather was born in Pennsylvania in late 1814, but nothing beyond that. It's aggravating, but I was lucky enough to find out some interesting stuff as well.