Pay attention to:
- clothing worn
- food eaten
- how the people talk, including expressions unique to the area
- the history found in museums
Mr. Hensley goes on to detail how to research a historical setting, including staying true to the customs and mores of the time, the language, and watching out for those pesky anachronisms that tend to crop up. I once used a victrola in a time period when the machine was not yet in use--and had to switch to gramophone instead! (To be completely correct, an anachronism is misplacing something from an earlier time, but it can be used also to indicate general errors in chronology.) Anyway, thank goodness for a sharp editor!
To get the full benefit of the author's advice, you need to read the entire article. It, plus others such as "Creating Round Characters", "Write a Winning Essay," and "Marketing Your Unpublished Book" make this issue of Writers' Journal one to look for in your library, on the newsstand, or even order from the publisher since it's probably already a back issue.
Visit them on the web at http://writersjournal.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org