The continuing belief, which many people have, that an individual's family history is all there on the Internet, just waiting to be uncovered, does cause many genealogists to snicker. Really? Of course, commercials, such as those from a large company that is well-known as the most popular pay genealogy site, perpetuate that rumor. And it can be hard to counteract that belief . . . but we keep trying.
When I was hired as the lead genealogist for Genealogy Roadshow, that was the belief of the folks who planned the show, and they were a bit surprised when I said we would have to enlist the help of others in varying locations to pull records and take photos, but they accepted my assessment when I explained the types of records available on line as compared to those that are not. And, I have to admit, they were impressed with some of the sources we were able to access (via other genealogists around the world), so we got that myth of "everything is on line" expunged. At least in house.
But we did use the Internet, of course. We were able to get a lot of information from Ancestry.com, FindMyPast, Archives.com, Fold3, FamilySearch, FindAGrave, GenealogyBank, and many others. We contacted libraries, archives, museums, the Family History Library, NARA facilities (at least four different locations), individual research experts, and more. And we were able to talk to and email the applicants for information (note: the applicants were NOT told what progress we were making or even given an idea of whether or not there was any validation to their stories until they were on camera).
Of course we used Census records (state, federal, military, slave, etc.), city directories, vital records, military and pension records, immigration and naturalization documents, wills and probate documents, deeds, family letters/journals, etc., and anything we could access. Many of these items are not found on the Internet. But even many of those required some sleuthing techniques to uncover (different name spellings, browsing microfilmed books for a record that could have been generated on any date within a certain time span, handwriting interpretation - in any of a number of different languages, knowledge of research techniques that vary depending on the record format, etc.). The amount of education required to know how to do this is extensive - our research experts are all well-versed in research techniques that have been learned over decades and by attending courses, workshops, webinars, seminars, and lectures, plus reading help books, syllabi, etc. And, at the same time, being in a constant "learning" mode, since new websites, search formats, and other technology are developed to make our resource searches more effective and time-efficient, and we need to be ready to change approaches as the situation warrants.
So, what resources were used to investigate stories for GR? Every ones we could get our hands on or get others to access. And networking with each other, including the production team, to make the best use of time and resources, was of prime importance. We were a team and we used each other, down the line, to help each other. Our different skills were of access to each other. I would not say, "Don't try this at home" - because that's a great place to try it! I would say, "Don't try this by yourself" - use the networking option and ask for help! I'm really glad I did!