Western USA Branch
One the best and simplest ways to get started is to draw up a small chart of your family as far back as you know it. Once you've gone as far back as you can, ask relatives, especially parents and grandparents, to add what they can to it. This provides you with a useful starting point and reference, as well as at a partial history of your ancestors which will probably go back at least a hundred years.
The Scots Origins index of the General Register Office for Scotland's official births, deaths, marriages & census records contains nearly 30 million records extending back to 1553 and is on the Web at www.origins.net/
The Scottish Genealogy Society, founded in 1953, is a registered charity and aims to promote research into Scottish family history. The Society has a library and Family History Centre at 15 Victoria Terrace in Edinburgh.
One of the world's most well known genealogy sources is managed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) and is found at www.familysearch.com.
An excellent general source of genealogy information is census records. Census records go back quite a long way in North America and usually contain thorough information.
Another good source is any family records you may have, such as photo-albums, old family trees, diaries/journals, letters, etc.
Some other resources worth checking include:
Newspaper archives also often contain such things as marriage and birth records, as well as obituaries.
Be persistent. It will most likely take a bit of work as well as trial and error to compile a detailed family history. Don't let yourself get easily discouraged, if you find one avenue of research closed off, simply try another.
Be patient. Patience is one of the most important genealogical tools you can possess. Some things that may seem boring, unproductive or time-consuming at first may turn out to be very rewarding later.
Memories can be faulty. While jogging people's memory can often provide you with good information, human beings are still fallible and it is a good idea to double-check information from such sources.
Older the records, greater the chance they're not completely accurate. Record keeping wasn't always as accurate as it is today and some details in older records may not be as specific as you might wish. Also, there were many names with no exact spelling, people often spelled their name however they thought it sounded, so don't limit yourself to one spelling in your searches.
Keep clear, detailed, and accurate records. The reasons for this tip are obvious. These records can provide you with a quick over- view of all the research you've done, and if you find out somewhere down the road that you've made a mistake, they can help you to see where you made it and how to correct it.
Keep an open mind. Your research will generally be a lot more productive if you go into it looking to learn all you can, than if you go into it with a lot of pre-conceived ideas. Pre-conceived ideas have the unfortunate tendency of causing people to ignore pieces of information that don't fit with those ideas, sometimes important pieces of information.