- Knowing a little about the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 allowed me to understand the reasons why some of my ancestors migrated from Alsace to the United States in 1880. Alsace was a province of France and the family did not like the German regime that took over the territory after the war.
- The city of Pittsburgh, where a portion of my family had once settled, went by several names over the years, particularly the North Side. Deutschtown, Birmingham, Allegheny City, Temperanceville are all now neighborhoods or former towns that were absorbed into Pittsburgh Learning that and also when they were absorbed has helped me find the records I needed.
- 1918 was the biggest influenza pandemic the world had ever seen. Over a quarter of the world's population was infected between 1918 and 1920 and millions died. Whole families were affected. While luckily none of my closer family members did not perish in this pandemic, there are a few distant cousins that died.
- During the Great Depressions, hundreds of people migrated from the Plains, which were experiencing a drought to the cities to find work. Some came to states like California. Knowing this might help find a missing family member
A couple of books that are great to have on hand when researching American history are Kenneth C. Davis' Don't Know Much About History or Seymour Morris Jr.'s American History Revised. History Magazine is another great reference, as well as any old fashioned book from the library. There are even resources online, such as the much maligned Wikipedia (I have only found a few factual errors in the history I have read there) or a good old fashioned Google search. For harder to find subjects, there's also Historical societies or Inter-Library Loans (both of which I have used).