Recently, as I was working on my son-in-law's genealogy something triggered me to wonder about historic context. He had an ancestor who emigrated to Canada in 1757. The battle for the Plains of Abraham took place in 1759. The majority of French Canadian ancestors came to Quebec in the 17th century. I was surprised that this man came so late.
It made me wonder if perhaps he was a soldier sent by the King of France to defend the colony from the rising English threat. I looked at the record of his marriage which took place in 1757 and sure enough, he was listed as a soldier.
Obviously, I would have found this out eventually when I went to look for his marriage but because I am aware of French Canadian history, it made sense to me that he might be a soldier. This will work for any genealogy in any time period or place. If you familiarize yourself with the history of the town, state, country or even world in which your ancestor lived, you will be able to recognize tips and hints that may help you to find out more about them.
If you know that there was a famine or an economic downswing, you will recognize what may have triggered your ancestor to emigrate. Some of these are the Irish famine, Russian programs and religious persecution in England and France just to name a few. Rest assured, if you learn the history, lights will go on for you too.