Yet another way to track down your ancestors, and in fact, have a glimpse at what life was like for them is to read the newspapers from their era. Newspapers can be difficult to track down though, you need to find the ones that were published in their location and while they were alive.
These days, many of the old newspapers have been stored digitally or on microfiche, saves damaging the original copy or having it get stolen.
The most likely mentions of your ancestor in the newspaper would be their birth, marriage and death, unless of course your ancestor was one of status, in which case there may very well be more mentions of them.
I should also tell you, be prepared to find a few skeletons in the closet through reading the newspaper, often these stories when spoken about at home were ‘modified’ to protect the children in the family, this can lead to some confusion when tracking down ancestors. By skeletons I’m talking scandals and court cases, information that could lead to families moving away to run from their past.
http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/ A great site to start, thousands of newspapers from around the world are listed as are their links.
http://www.ipl.org/div/news/ Much the same as the above site, listing many online newspaper sites.
http://historynews.chadwyck.com/ Fantastic site which contains the text of newspapers dating back to the 18th century for both the UK and US, though it is pay for access, there are free trials available.