You can even Google people’s names, although you might be surprised to learn that your ancestor from the 1700s has a Facebook page and that you can get a background check on him with credit rating for a low fee! If you get such hits, obviously it is someone with the same name. You probably will have the best luck searching for someone with an unusual name. Googling “Dawson Pompey,” for example, brought to light photographs of his family members that someone had posted online.
A more planned approach to Internet searching might include looking at the homepages of public libraries, university libraries, genealogical and historical societies and courthouses in the specific areas where your ancestors lived. Any of these entities may have databases specific to the area online, or even digitized images of records, tombstone photos, and more. At the very least, you can discover the addresses and hours for the libraries and courthouses you want to plan to visit in the spring or next summer!
Cemeteries, funeral homes, colleges, fraternal organizations, governmental entities, ethnic groups, family associations and many other businesses and organizations have their own websites. And every website you land on often will have links to still more websites that may help your search.
In addition, you can look for other people to be your “legs” in a distant locale while you are snowbound. Local genealogical societies or libraries may have volunteer or for-a-fee research services. The Board for Certification of Genealogists and Association of Professional Genealogists have lists of researchers with specialties in geographic or subject areas that you can hire to further your research.
Just because you can’t take a road trip does not mean your genealogy project has to come to a screeching halt. Light the fire, pour the cocoa and grab the laptop – it’s time to hit the highway … the armchair research highway, that is!