Welcome to Family History Month. In 2001, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced a bill designating October as Family History Month. Many societies hold special meetings, conferences or events during October so check your local society for events. Many societies go dormant for the summer and even if there is no special activity, this is the time of year that activities begin for the new year. Make a point of attending your local society meeting in October and see what you can do to help. There is always a need for volunteers to help out.
Now that the days are getting cooler and we're spending more time inside, Family History Month is a good time to dust off your files and get started again. If you didn't do anything this summer, pick one line of your family and get started. If you've been thinking of creating something for a family member for the holidays, that might be the incentive to pick a certain line or even one individual.
Where to start? Write an outline for your project. You might generate a report from your genealogy software as a starting point. Once you start writing you'll find the holes you need to fill in. Keep a "to do" list of additional research that is needed. Now, pull out your paper files and read everything you have. If you haven't worked on this line for a while, you may find that there is additional information in the research you've already done. You may have missed the information the first time through because you weren't as experienced, or because new information has come to light. Create a timeline...are there any gaps in your records that need to be filled in such as a missing census or World War I Draft Registration? If you haven't been able to find the record explain what you've done and where you've looked.
Don't forget to check online for new records. FamilySearch pilot, Ancestry, World Vital Records, just to name a few, add new records every week. If you check World Vital Records on a regular basis you'll find that their databases are free for the first ten days. Newspaper access through GenealogyBank, NewspaperArchive, and ProQuest's databases of major newspapers (check to see if you local library has access) can turn up not only obituaries, but other events in your ancestors' life that would have been nearly impossible to find in the past. HeritageQuest (through your library), World Vital Records, the Godfrey Library, and Brigham Young University are actively digitizing and indexing family histories. If you don't have a subscription to these databases, check your local library for access, or visit your Family History Center.