For a full family research project the reply by Greg Burton is the best plan. Do your ground work starting with yourself and work back to your parents, grandparents, etc. Do the most thorough job you can, documenting everything and thinking thru every step.
When you have established this base with what you know and information you can obtain from your family and sources you have at hand, then go for the original documents at the COURTHOUSE where each of these people lived.
Always keep in mind, ORIGINAL FIRST-HAND DOCUMENTS are your best friend. They will give your research credibility. You can find some of these also at Family History Library in Salt Lake City or you can order their microfilm. You might check the local library where your ancestor lived. I have had good luck doing this.
Many other repositories and web sites have good information. Many of them are mentioned here. Just remember......
If you use data from someone else's files or any second-hand information such as someone else telling you something, this data would need to be verified and documented, if possible. You need to prove or disprove it. Don't write it in stone until you know the whole story and can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that is is true.
And whatever you find that pertains to your family, try to fit it together so it is realistic. Use timelines over and over. (Make sure your g.grandmother didn't have a child when she was 5 yrs old, etc.)
And, record your documentation for everything.
It's a great ride but it takes a little know how. You can find help with this in many places. One of the best helps I found are the books by Emily Croom. You can find them at Amazon.com I believe. Or, Google her name. And, look for other help. A lot is available on line and in many books. Google +genealogy +instruction or +family history +your surname (for information on your family) or some such search term. It's there.
Good luck. I wish you many happy years of learning about your family.
What do you do if you get stuck on your great grandparents? I have not been able to find birth records for either of my fathers grandparents. I cannot find anyone that knows exactly where my great grandfather was born. All I know is that he was born in Louisianna and that every where I check there is no record. Please help!
GLENN: You may never find birth records for your g. grandparents. I haven't found all mine either. So you have to find something else that would substantiate the birth like census records, family Bible records, etc. In Texas there are a couple of books of "Early Texas Births" and I have used that. Then, you would put together whatever you can find and document it. If you come up with something consistent for the birth, you would just cite all your sources with the birth date and that's called "Genealogical Proof Standard".
(Google "genealogical proof standard" and you can learn about how it works) It basically means you have exhausted all the sources you can find and declare that such is his birth. The genealogical proof standard is based on the legal court's use of "proved beyond a reasonable doubt".
That being said, I have used this way for one of my g. grandparents and came up with 1852, 1853 and 1854 for his birth year. And I can't prove or disprove any of the years. So, I just show his birth 1852-1854 and cite my sources.
Birth records were not routinely kept in all parts of the country that far back. So, if your g.grandparents were in the same age group as mine, you are going to be very lucky if you find birth records.
In your case, first I would find every census record in LA for them I could find and note the birth dates and places on the census records and go from there. If you don't find them in LA, then do a search just on their names without the place and see if they were somewhere else at different times.
I don't have my Ancestry.com subscript anymore or I would look them up for you in their census records. MAYBE SOMEONE HERE HAS AN ANCESTRY.COM SUBSCRIPT AND CAN HELP.
Also, you can go to your local library and ask them if they are able to hook up to Heritage Quest census records. If they are, that's a good place to check censuses
Another way is to order census microfilm from Family History Library. They will send it to the FHL center nearest to you. The cost for rental is very minimal.
I had a similar problem with my g-grandmother. I knew where & when she was born but nothing about her parents. I'd been banging my head against this brickwall for years. Then when at a Family History Center I got on familysearch.org clicked on the "search records" tab & then on the "record search pilot" tab. I did a search on her name with a time frame & there she was on the census. She was listed with her parents, siblings & living with an her mother's sister. Then I did a search on the sister's name & found their parents & siblings. Wow! I was so excited. My info increased by 2 generations. Try this site. Who knows you might get lucky like I did. Good luck & happing hunting.
Do you know when he was born etc? Do you have his parents names or any siblings? Do you have his death record by any chance that might tell you where he was born and when etc. How about obt on him that might list some information too as in siblings etc. We might be able to find him on the census with his parents etc. Say if he was born in 1900 you have to figure that he was with his parents in 1910 and 1920.
If you can give us some dates and names somebody might be able to help you out.
First you need to know the laws of the state you are researching in. They vary a lot. A good book to have is HANDY BOOK FOR GENEALOGIST by Everston Publishing. They are normally in most libraries, but I refer to mine many times, usually for counties and when they were formed, but a very good book. (Latest version, of course)
My State Ga-did not have records until 1919-and even then, they gave no money for this project, so a good many counties did not comply right away for that and other reasons. There were however, delayed birth, etc.
When these people needed SS or jobs etc. later, they filed them.
In My State-you can get them locally-which is cheaper, or from the STATE. I think this is so in most of them. New York-is different, but as I said-it varies in states. As stated, you may have to settle for other records.
Glenn my Dad was taken prisoner by the Germans, his village records destroyed and those not needed shot. Talk about your brick walls, all I can confirm is that there was a village, and thanks to an old man giving a verbal record, and some kind soul transcribing to english and throwing it on the web I know it's the right one because the family names were there, but thats it. Some times a brick wall is just that, and you have to let it go, look at something else, work on your twigs (off shoots of your family tree) for a while, and maybe, just maybe if you're lucky something might pop up in 10 years or so. That's how long it's taken me so far.
I would say there is no ONE place to go get it all, and no ONE system that works best for everyone. I have found good and bad (as in frustration from lack of finding anything, and as in unresearched, speculative, erroneous information) everywhere I look - websites, books, relatives, you name it. The one best tool you have is your brain: creativity, persistence, curiosity, and intelligence are the real best resources. Take those with you to EVERY website, publication, courthouse, cemetery, census record, etc, and you'll get farther than if you had all the family history documents in the world handed to you. Try everything available, and go back to things you've previously tried again, if it's been a while - sometimes what you've learned/found since your last visit to that resource will open your eyes to something there you completely missed before.
Seriously, probably the best place in the country, if not the world, is the LDS's genealogical library in Salt Lake City, Utah. But, there are many excellent libraries to do research in just about everywhere, and some will be more appropriate to your specific research if they are located in the geographical area you are researching. Every state has at least one historical society library and there are many communities that have them, as well. Some also have genealogical society libraries. Do a Google search for "historical societies" or "genealogical societies" in your locale.