General Research Aids
Several websites offer helpful information to help beginning genealogists get started:
This free website ( offers some of the most in-depth help for learning how to conduct sound genealogical research.  To see the educational content, you do not need an account.  To view the historical documents on the site, you will need to set up an account but there is no charge. 
From the home page, click on “Wiki” in the top menu, on the next screen click on “Research Resources” on the side menu.  Or click on this link:
National Genealogical Society
The National Genealogical Society ( offers very useful educational resources.  Many are free; some are paid with discounts for Society members.
From the home page, click on “Learning Center” and select either “Free Genealogy Resources” or “Getting Started”.
Cyndi’s List
Cyndi’s List ( , is a index of websites that has been a vital resource for genealogists for many years.  You can enter “Beginners” in the search feature or click on this link:
The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 4th edition by Val D. Greenwood
The definitive guide to American genealogy.
Evidence Explained: History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace 3rd Edition Revised by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
This is not only the essential book for citing sources but it is an excellent guide for how to analyze your sources and evaluate the evidence they provide.  The first chapter, “Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis” should be read carefully by anyone interested in genealogy.
Organizing Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher, by Drew Smith.
This book provides essential hints on how to be an effective genealogist.
If you choose not to purchase these, they are all available at the Virginia Room of the Fairfax County Public Library.
Online Repositories is a paid subscription site which contains billions of genealogical records from 80 countries of origin.  Ancestry also offers an autosomal DNA test which can provide matches against the largest commercial DNA database.
FamilySearch is a free service affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has an extensive genealogy library in Salt Lake City and FamilySearch Centers around the country. The FamilySearch catalog offers access to a rich trove of records including many county and state-level records in the United States.  FamilySearch also has the Family Tree, an attempt to place everyone into a single family tree.
Physical Repositories
The following physical repositories are important sources of genealogical records.  Many have made a significant number of online records accessible as well.
The National Archives holds records of the United States Government.  The main facility is in Washington, DC but there are 18 regional record centers throughout the United States.  This is the link to their guide to resources for genealogists.
Library of Virginia has many resources for doing research in the commonwealth of Virginia.  Its Richmond facility provides access not only to a rich trove of historical documents and books but also microfilm copies of local records from all over the state.  The Library also has an extensive digital collection including Virginia Chronicle which includes over a million digitized pages from Virginia newspapers covering 1787 to 2013.
Aside from its vast collection of published works, the Library of Congress offers many important digital collections, including a vast array of historical maps and “Chronicling America,,” containing scanned images of newspapers from 1777 to 1963.
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library, located at the DAR headquarters at 1776 D Street NW, Washington, DC, has over 225,000 volumes to support genealogical research.  If your ancestors date back to the Colonial era, you might seek the assistance of your local chapter of the DAR
The Fairfax County Public Library's Virginia Room is best known for its materials on Fairfax County but it also holds materials on regional history as well as state and local government information and legal resources.  Researchers can use itsthom print holdings and online databases to research genealogy from all 50 states. Other resources available for use are: maps, an extensive photographic archive, manuscript collections, local newspapers, and rare books.”  The Virginia Room is located at the City of Fairfax Regional Library, 10360 North Street Fairfax, VA 22030-2514. Phone: (703) 293-6383 E-mail:
Please check the Virginia Room link for their current hours and to see a list of online resources that they have available.
The Thomas Balch Library focuses on materials pertaining to Leesburg, Loudoun County and the surrounding region.