The #1 Greatest tool - Your Elders
I've been doing ancestry research for over a year now, and I can't tell you how easy it has become to do your family tree these days, most of the time right from your computer. Don't get me wrong, a bit of research and looking still has to be done on your part, to make sure you have the right linkups in your family tree, and sometimes you'll have to call on the older generation of your family to see if they can recall some details, but get them quick, cause those that are 70+ years seem that their memory start slipping. You have to just listen, don't bum rush your elders with multiple questions. Take it nice and slow and listen to their words. Be sure to bring a type of recorder, and or notepad. I would also suggest a one on one approach. Try not to call them over the phone or uses the internet social media to communicate with the elders. Two simple reason - Most elders and not to insult, do not like the internet (to complicate for some), also to many typos or misunderstanding of what you are or what they are typing. Plus you ask more question these getting answer. Secondly it shows that you have more interest in the story if you were face to face. There are some downside to face to face, but I have a solution for you. In some cases that I have experience I have found long distant elders that were uncomfortable speaking to me (a stranger) to them. But I offer them a family tree print out and also I ask if there is someone in their close family that could join us in the discussion like a favorite grandchild, or someone else in the family that is also doing the family tree. You want to make your visit a pleasant as possible for them, and help bring back some great memories.
My greatest Online tools!
With the information that I have gotten from my Elders, I'm able to goto websites like FamilySearch.org and search for census records and event death records, all depending on the privates laws (for each state) on when the information is made public. For example: I can view my grandfather death record cause it's been over 20 years since his passing, but I can't live my aunt death record cause she just recently pass away acouple of years ago. Some States have a time frame, some could be 10 years other might be 20 years. In some cases I've seen 100 years. But the Federal Government for the United State is 70 years. So as you might have notices that the 1940 United State Census was just release. The National Archives 1940 Census Records and be found HERE. Another tool that I uses is FindAGrave.com. I know the name might seem abit creepy to some, but what it is and what it does will amaze you on connecting your family tree together. FindAGrave.com is a memorial site for those that have gone to the other side from this life. The site is used by volenteers like myself, walk the cemeteries on this world. Yes I said this world. This site list most of all the interments, and some of family links. I also would suggest using the FindAGrave Forum to get help from others there in your research. Many volunteers are happy to help in the Genealogy Department Forum, with services that charges like NewsPaper Archives, Fold3. Working directly through the newspapers company might also have obituary archives online, but charge a hefty price, plus you have to do the research yourself, or you can just simply visit the library where the "event" happens and uses the microfilm to get the information you want. Dallas Morning News Archives will charge you $10 for 50 downloads or 1 Day Pass which ever comes first and you might just need one article. Where if I went to the Dallas Library to look at the microfilm it would only cost me nothing to copy the image onto my UBS flash drive or $1.50 for a printout. I rather spent nothing to $1.50 instead of $10.00 for one article. So get to the library when you can.
Some great Immigration Records Online
There are only two places I can suggest Immigration Records and that is: National Archives Immigration Records and the official Ellis Island Website. I have found lost of my relatives immigrated to the United States of America using these website. FYI: Not all immigration records were recorded at the time some of these immigrants landed. Some didn't get their Naturalization Record at all and some were destroy (weather, flood, fire, theft) at some of the federal buildings in the county were some of the immigrant resided. I still haven't found one for my Great-Great Grandfather Giacomo Di Dia aka Chriss Dee. He either didn't get his or it was lost or destroy.