In the early 2000's my parents created family tree albums for me and my siblings. It contained several trees and lots of family pictures through the years. At first I didn't pay that much attention. My Dad died in 2004 and then my mother in 2010 and I inherited the files and paperwork they had collected. There were a lot of blanks and I felt compelled to fill them in. The most exciting document was my great grandfather's original 1879 renunciation of German citizenship to become American - it contained everything I needed to start searching. So began my life as family history detective. I love it!
I've spent time at the LDS Family History Centers pouring over microfilms looking for births, deaths, marriages - mostly from Germany dating back into the late 1500's. Since my paternal German relatives settled in Newark, NJ in the latter 1800's, I've researched at the NJ State Archives in Trenton, NJ. I've found obituaries for most of them at the NJ State Library which has old newspapers on microfilm back into the latter 1800's. Great resources - all at my fingertips - all in one place - available for the price of a xerox copy or snap of a digital photo.
On my maternal Croatian side I've recently found Croatian church books online and have been able to find several relatives from the island and town my mother's father was born in as well as her mother's relatives from two other towns.
Then there are the cemeteries! All my life I've been fascinated by cemeteries. I can't pass one without looking and wondering about the people buried there. I like reading headstones. With this great F.A.G. resource and the internet, not only can I put up memorials for my ancestors, but help other people to complete their own memorials. I enjoy the research and being useful in a way that is meaningful to others.
The last relative of both of my parent's generation - my father's sister - passed away in 2011. I regret not paying more attention when they first gave me that album. There's no one left to ask for details.
Names I've been researching mostly in Essex and Union County, NJ (Newark, Springfield, E. Orange and Maplewood areas) are Hofmann, Hoffmann, Helmrich, Jahn, Gombert, Wild, Gummermann, Wilson. From NYC and NY state: Wild,Gummermann, Zitz, Horvath, Solar.