Social Context- What was the social environment like at the time? Students should consider what the social norms were at the time. For example, how did racism, segregation, and Jim Crow laws set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement?
Cultural Context- What were the cultural norms at the time? Students should examine how society viewed and expected people to behave. What were the prevailing views on women’s place? What behaviors were considered appropriate or inappropriate? Who was allowed to have certain jobs or be in certain places?
Other Contexts- Students should try to identify other contexts that are relevant to their topics. These may not be the same for every student.
For most students, they will find that their topic will be the result of a response or reaction, or attempt to change the circumstances of the time. Understanding historical context will help your students best describe changes over time and identify the long and short term consequences and outcomes of their topic.
Modified with permission from Utah History Day’s Historical Context: Sets the Stage.