One very easy way to start your research is to look in an encyclopedia that will provide an overview of basic background information on a topic
Wikipedia is an excellent place to get background information. See the WIKIPEDIA guide for more.
Locating information requires a combination of inquiry, discovery, and serendipity. There is no one size fits all source to find the needed information. Information discovery is nonlinear and iterative, requiring the use of abroad range of information sources and flexibility to pursuit alternate avenues as new understanding is developed. Depending on the information need and context, the learner may need to consult a variety of resources ranging from databases and books to observations and interviews.
Timelines are another way to contextualize history.
There are books which you can browse which will be extremely helpful to you in learning about the cultural, social, and historical context of a particular time or period.