Your Guide to Researching
First, bookmark or print out the Family History Library XXX Research Outline.
Books you might purchase or use in a library include
check to see if there is an NGS Guide http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/research_in_the_states
All of the three reference books listed below have a small section covering each state that includes maps, historical information, vital records coverage and a bibliography of resources for that state. (note: some libraries may have earleir editions; those are usable)
For more information on finding and using maps, see Your Guide to Atlases, Maps and Gazateers.
Next, see what is available for your counties of interest at at one of these statewide sites. For each, use the county selection list to find out what is available for the various counties. Content will vary, but in usually you wil find the GenWeb site to be the most robust. All are volunteer driven sites; all data free.
For more information on using libraries and archives, see genealogy guides to Libraries and Archives
Finding and Using Records: cemetery, census, church, city directories, countyl histories, court & legal, military, land and property, naturalizations, newspapers, probate, vital.
Use the catalog at the FHL to find out what has been filmed covering the state XXX ; Click View Related Places in the upper right to find sources that have been filmed for the county you are researching and once there click View Related Places in the upper right to find sources that have been filmed for the township or city. You will want to check for resources in all three jurisdictions, although most people check the county holdings first, township next and state last.
Consult the Family History Library's Guide to XXX Statewide Indexes and Collections ; you might also consult the FHL's XXX Research Guidance, although frankly, I find navigation of that section confusing.
Cemetery: For general informaton, see guide to cemetery records, this website
Census: For general inforamtion, see guide to census records, this website.
Church: For general information, see guide to church records, this website.
City and County Directories: For general information, see guide to city and county directories, this website.
County and Local Histories: For general informaton, see guide to county histories, this website
Court & Legal; For general information, see guide to law libraries, this website
Land & Property: For general information, see guide to land records, this website.
Military; For general inforamtion, see guide to military records, this website
Naturalizations; For general informaton, see guide to naturalizations, this website
Newspapers: For general information, see guide to newspapers, this website
Probate: For general inforamton, see guide to probate records, this website
Vital: For general inforamtion, see guide to vital records, this website.