There are numerous family history sites where you can access all sorts of records (census, parish, birth, marriage and death, etc) that can be used to reconstruct families and households and also to build a picture of employment, neighbourhood, migration, and so on. Most sites are not free. However, you can gain free access to many online records, including the census, by visiting your local Record Office.
BBC Family History Guide
This guide provides useful advice about what’s on offer and how to go about family history, as well as links to the major genealogy sites.
BBC Hands-On History
This site contains basic tips on how to go about doing research and oral history.
BBC Family History – Bloodlines
This section of the BBC Family History site gives tips and timelines on working lives, migration, family history and the military. Great for family and social history.
If you are looking for someone who was in the workhouse, a good place to start is the National Archives