Yours truly may get sucked into ancestry.com. i'm seeking tips to do my own research before plunking down any money so i'm building out the tree on my paternal grandmother's side. i am a graduate student so doing research w/ persistence is not a problem for me. anything further back than census records of the mid-1800's then i may start to pay someone for help.
so - before i become too entrenched, a few questions and i'm sure i don't know enough to ask what i don't know to ask so please chime-in!
1) what else is out there w/ the DB like ancestry.com? it can reside on my machine or internet. i'm not fond of the UI design of ancestry as much.
2) sites to connect w/ others of similar surname, doing other geneological research in the USA?
3) other government sites?
4) things you wish someone would have told/warned you when you began your family research?
i do know my paternal grandfather's side. good story of about 10 years ago, went through the freedom of information act to find his background, everything the FBI found on his original parents as he was adopted - didn't find out till he was accepted by the FBI who asked for his birth certificate and his parents couldn't produce it...so it was a family secret till his 20's post law school. he was german thru and thru given up to an orphanage when his father died of smallpox. shocking as one of the first FBI agents, da' gov kept all the records on him down to his last home loan, 50+ years later after leaving the service post-wwII.
yada yada - research, tips, thoughts appreciated as i start this journey...