My local library netted me free access to a nice genealogy resource. Heritage Quest allows users to view census images from 1790-1930, many of which have name indexes. You can also search books and periodicals for family and local histories. For the amateur genealogist, the site offers access to how to articles. Finally, you can also search records from the Revolutionary War, Freedman's Bank and the US Serial Set.
In North Carolina, you get access to this amazing resource through NC Live. Just call your local library to get the password and browse down to the history and genealogy category for the link. In other states, Heritage Quest is available through some libraries so give your library a call to ask if they offer it.