I've gotten numerous requests for guidance in researching ancestors in Alaska. The following list is where I'd begin my research:
Talk to everyone in your family about what they know about the ancestors, keeping in mind that memories can fade and that some of their information is inaccurate. (Great Grandma was a full-blooded Indian or we came over on the Mayflower are two examples of information that is said over & over that is usually not true.) Write down what you've found out.
Buy or download a free genealogy program to organize your information. Brother's Keeper is shareware and can be downloaded for free. This way all of your information is organized and can be emailed to someone easily.
Explore "Resources". In this section you will also find many links to great sites for beginners.
Use ALL types of spellings when you look for records. Many times the spelling changed (Hawley to Holley) or the person writing down the information had trouble deciphering the script. Sometimes names are spelled so "screwy" that your best bet is just to go through the pages. The "s" looks like "f" in some old script, so Smith could look like Fith to a beginning transcriber.
Use the search engine on this web and others to locate surnames.
Post a query on the query board. There are a number of different query boards including Surname Boards -Gen Forum. (They're listed in "Research Resources" under the "Helpful Links" page)
Join the email list and ask questions about your ancestors there.
Check census records in the borough and in surrounding boroughs. The 1850 census records begin listing all of the family members and where each was born.
Check the Cemetery records.
Check the funeral home listings. Many times people did not have money to buy a tombstone, but their remains were handled by an undertaker.
Check the YOUR BOROUGH's library and/or city library to see if they have any biographical information on the family you are searching for.
Check the birth, death and marriage records. Those may list parents names, etc. Get copies of these records by ordering them from the appropriate source.
Check the court records index. If you find something of interest, try to order the record from the Borough Clerk. They charge $X a page to Xerox it. Also know that they are short-staffed and may not be able to fill your request.
Check The old newspapers. You may need to write one of the libraries to see if your family member's name is listed in the index.