What Does Historical Context Mean?

According to the National History Education Clearinghouse, “historical context” refers to the cultural, economic and sociopolitical background pertaining to historical events and trends. Historical sources and artifacts come from particular environments and should be understood as connected to the conditions of those environments.

A Marianopolis College Web page notes that historical context with respect to particular events is frequently confused with the causes of those events. The cause of an event is that which brings about the event. The historical context gives more depth and substance to the event and to its causes and effects. Understanding historical context assists in comprehending the urgency and importance of particular historical events.