While eating lunch at my computer today, I asked a co-worker if they wanted me to try and look up any family history records for her on Ancestry.com. She said sure, but that she didn't know the names of any relatives who were alive for the 1930 census. Regardless, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try.
Her grandparents were all first generation americans from France and Italy, so I thought I might be able to find some interesting documents. I keyed in her French surname, Vidil, along with her grandparent's home state of Pennsylvania. There were very few results - and they were all for her family.
As I told her when I offered to do the lookup, I often find that folks don't realize what they actually know about their family. In this case, the results I found were almost all for Hypolite V Vidil of Allegheny County, PA, originally of France. I asked her if that sounded familiar, to which she casually replied, "Oh yeah, that's it!" Turns out that she knew her Great-Grandfather's name all along. She suddenly had a lot of information about Hypolite and his son (her Grandfather) Felix. Turns out that if she'd been a boy, her francophile father wanted to name her Hypolite - and wasn't she grateful to be a girl!
In this case, I was able to put together an instant family tree for my coworker, dating back to 1872 in Mayres, France. Thanks to a 10 minute search, she now has census, military and naturalization records for her paternal family line. Sometimes it's just that easy - and doesn't that just make me so jealous!