I have been dabbling in genealogy since 1991. Luckily I have lived in the Washington DC area when I got started. The National Archives are the best. Now that my kids have gotten grown, I am easing back into the genealogy again. Lots of changes between 1991 and now. Tons of stuff available online for one thing.
Family surnames I am researching are WILLIAMSON, WILSEY, WELLBORN, MAYFIELD, MURRAY/MURRY, GARMON, PONDER, GUTHRIE, ADAIR, SCHOOLCRAFT, and CARR. Most of these are in the southeast with the exception of SCHOOLCRAFT and WILSEY which are in Wisconsin and New York around 1900 and earlier.