I've now been blogging for 3 weeks or 21 days about Family History Research and guess what? I've only touched the tip of the iceberg on what is available. More material is being added DAILY in the form of personal webpages, blogs, and actual digitized resources to search. You could get lost surfing in the Internet for your ancestors and never be missed (unless your spouse or family noticed your absence.)
What's to be done to prevent wasting your valuable time searching without any results? HAVE A PLAN-don't look for every surname on your family tree, pick just one branch to research. Then be SPECIFIC-what info are you missing? A death date for great grandpa? Well, then don't look for his birth record but focus on obituaries, death certificates and cemeteries just in the area where he possibly died. Always check HOME SOURCES first before turning to the INTERNET. Then try a GOOGLE SEARCH before checking out some of the websites I've suggested previously: www.familysearch.org, www.ancestry.com, www.cyndislist.org, www.usgenweb.com, www.rootsweb.com among others. (Click on links for more info.)
Keep good notes in some kind of a RESEARCH LOG so you know where you've looked and jot down any ideas as you're working on where to check next...a TO DO list. Remember census records can be great clues if you're searching in America as to where your ancestors lived. This is like a mystery to solve. One thing leads to another until you discover the facts needed. Sometimes you'll find you need to write letters to Courthouses or make a visit in person or hire a researcher to find info for you. Maybe you'll get lucky and find an Internet cousin or two. Good luck!