|Picture Credit: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2009/|
Before you say that you don't need to because you already know what was happening at the time, stop and ask yourself how recent your source was written. Basically, if you are looking in a history book to find out what life was like in a certain place 150 years ago then you need to do more homework.
Daily life and the information the average person had is not portrayed well in a history book that is chronicling major events in a country or group of countries. What did the average person know about what was going on? What did he or she think about what was going on?
Newspapers are obviously not the only source to be evaluated, but they are an important source. The good news is that it is not hard to look back at old newspapers. They have been digitized and they are fascinating to read.
For digitized newspapers from the United States, try looking at The Library of Congress website: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/. You can see newspapers as old as 1836. Also try using a search engine to search the web for sites specific to the state you are interested in (or country if you are looking outside the US). As a couple examples, you can find Utah historical newspapers at: www.digitalnewspapers.org. Or you can find Pennsylvania newspapers at: http://accesspadr.org/cdm4/search.php?CISOROOT=/sstlp-newsp.
Unless you are looking for very old dates, you will be surprised at what you'll find.