Authentic details help to develop historical characters in the minds of readers. Sometimes, for example, my historical characters need to have dialogue about what is happening in their world. At other times, they may need to be reading a book or listening to music.
I have a pretty good nondigital source for finding cultural details in history, called The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events, by Bernard Grun, based on Werner Stein’s Kulturfahrplan. The source begins with the year 5000 BC and progresses to 1978. In table form, it gives snippets of important people and events in the categories of History and Politics; Literature and Theater; Religion, Philosophy and Learning; Visual Arts; Music; Science and Technology; and Daily Life. So, if I have a character living in 1863 who loves to read and listen to music, I can very quickly determine what the literature and musical trends of that year would have been.
But wait! This blog is about writing historical fiction in the digital age. Here is a link to the U.S. Library of Congress site called This Day in History that gives information about events and people of the past according to exact date. There are even links for “yesterday” and “tomorrow.” Of course, this source is limited to recorded history from the Library of Congress, but here you will find links to the primary resources (images and documents) associated with U. S. history. For example, on this day in 1778, the Treaty of Alliance between the U. S. and France was signed in Paris.