Broadly speaking, there have been three technological innovations to trace family trees more effectively and more efficiently.
All genealogists need to organize information and create family tree charts. A huge innovation was to replace paper forms with a computer program specifically designed for genealogy.
There are many free or moderately priced alternatives for every platform. I've used Family Tree Maker for many years; but that program was discontinued after 12/31/15. Support will continue through 2016. So I will be evaluating alternatives.
Getting copies of certain original documents may still require trips to libraries and courthouses. But every day there is more genealogical data posted online. I know you have access to the Internet (you’re reading this page online). So take advantage of the many other online resources.
The grandaddy of them all with billions of genealogical records is Ancestry.com.
The third innovation was the application of DNA testing to genealogy. In 1999 an avid genealogist named Bennett Greenspan wanted to connect his family to another one he knew must be related. But he couldn’t find a paper trail link. So he contacted a well known geneticist working with DNA. Eventually, Mr. Greenspan founded Family Tree DNA, The World’s First and Largest Genealogy Driven Testing Service.
That is the service that helped me end decades of secrecy to learn the identity of my birth father. Genetic Genealogy is one of the major focuses of this web site. Keep checking back for additional information in this Genealogy section.
The latest innovation is autosomal DNA testing, which can uncover genetic cousins, confirm many close relationships, and measure your ethnic ancestry. Check out these links for more information directly from the labs that offer the tests: