The family history web site for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is www.familysearch.org , providing services for both beginners in the field of family history research and those who are deeply into research and performing proxy temple ordinances. This is a free site, and is available to anyone with access to the internet. As of this writing (August 2009), a new updated version of www.familysearch .org is available in some parts of the world but not yet in Utah.
For novices of family history, www.familysearch.org provides a free download of the most recent version of Personal Ancestral File (PAF) to get you started. This is a method of entering data that will print out as both pedigree charts and family group records. Simple to use, it is compatible with TempleReady and Family Ordinance Record programs for use with temple ordinances. It is available for both PCs and Macs, although using PAF with Macs is more complicated and not recommended. Start by entering your own information then work backwards.
Familysearch.org provides online access to millions of individuals who have already been researched. These are presented sometimes linked to parents and/or spouses or children, but often just as individuals. You will likely have to look at all relevant documentation to get all the information you are searching for, and there may be many duplicates. Since much of this material has been donated by members and non-members of the Church, it is not all documented or accurate, so please use this material with caution. Familysearch.org also offers indexes to a few original records such as specific censuses and the US Social Security Death Index. Please remember that there may be errors in transcribing and creating indexes.
For experienced researchers, perhaps the best feature of www.familysearch.org is online access to the catalog of millions of microfilmed, microfiched and published records that are currently held at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The actual microcopied records can be mailed to any local family history center for only the cost of postage, and can be kept for varying lengths of time. This material can be searched for by place, name, keyword, title, film or fiche number, author, subject or call number of printed material. Familysearch.org does not offer many original documents online but can connect you to some records on Ancestry.com for a fee if you find someone of interest in their indexes.
The Family History Library also lets you know of dozens of classes and offers research guides.
If you are trying to determine whether temple ordinances have been performed on behalf of ancestors, the International Genealogical Index is your best bet but there are other sources of this information such as Temple Index Bureau, Ancestral File, published books, old family group sheets and temple records. As of this writing, there is no one source that gives complete temple ordinance information. To access temple ordinance information on www.familysearch.org , you need to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and know your confirmation date and membership number to register.
Relatively new to www.familysearch.org are sections on researching African American sources and Jewish family history sources. The site also endeavors to keep people informed about new indexing and research projects, and volunteers can register and get set up to assist with indexing censuses and other vital records.
All in all, this web site is one of the first that anyone remotely interested in family history should consult. It is an excellent introduction to the mechanics of doing family history, and can get you into all the records available from the world's largest family history library.