Family trees are a great way to get people telling stories that you might otherwise never hear. Take the three trees in my grandmother's front yard. Blue spruce, planted lovingly by three pairs of little hands over fifty years ago.
Online search sites like ancestry.com and footnote.com bring thousands of obscure written records right into your living room. Not only does it offer helpful suggestions for documents that you might actually be looking for, it also provides a way to contact relatives whose names you may never otherwise know. Just recently, a cousin who met me when I was a toddler found my profile through my online family tree. With just an email, he put me into touch with a whole branch of my family in another state who I didn't know existed. These sites are expensive, but so very well worth it, in my opinion. Usually we wait until Christmas, when most of the relatives gather from around the nation to come back to the old homestead. That way, I can pay for just one month's access to the online records at a time when all of the kinfolks are around to ask questions, and we can all share in the data we gather together.