So, I've been planning this story about a character that travels back in time, and I thought I'd just put some tips down in terms of research (what to look up, what to search, etc).
1) Google Books is amazing, and I mean amazing. The amount of free books and the ability to limit your search to a certain time range makes it essential.
2) Who's the enemy? Depending on the time period, there is likely a war afoot. If your character is an American in England during the Napoleonic Wars, would that influence the way they are treated?
3) Read books published during the time period. Why? Other than the obvious reasons, you can learn how people used the language. Also, check out language phrasebooks. A french book will have the phrase in both languages, thus showing how the average person would say things.
4) Try to find stories about real people. A great way to make a story believable is to base it off of real events. You'll find stories that are so ridiculous, you'll be amazed.
5) Learn about the little guy. I'm talking about the lower class people other than the servants. In many time periods, you were lucky to be hired as a servant. Try to find out what other options a person had--and how it was viewed.
6) Research animals! Cats, dogs, and horses have been around for centuries and the great thing about them is that their behavior is still the same.
7) Crime. What were the big crimes of the day? Counterfeiting was a serious offense, and in some cases, you could be hanged or even burned at the stake for it. Also, check out the way the laws worked during your time. If they didn't have police officers, how did a thief get caught? (Fun Fact: in Georgian England, if you were stolen from, you had to catch the thief and then get a law enforcer to deal with it.)
8) Trade. If your character doesn't have money, they can steal, however, they can also trade. Business wasn't always as it is today, learn about the way people did business. Also, learn what was valuable back then.
9) Trash. What did people throw away? (What was free?) And how did you get it? Did they have a city dump in your time period?
10) Nature...if your character is starving how will he/she get food? Grass, as cats and dogs know, is indigestible. The meat sold during your time period may be rancid. Is your character going to steal some bread? Are they going to dig up some poor farmer's crops?