First of all, know your subject and understand the era you are writing about.
You ask, “How do I do that?” Of course the obvious answer is, Read, Read, Read.
But reading is only a start, it doesn’t really give you enough of the sensory stimuli necessary to faithfully write historical fiction. So to really learn about the times you are interested in, you need to actually see artifacts from that era. It’s difficult to write about grinding coffee if you’ve never seen a coffee grinder.
Visit museums. There is a wealth of information and historic (and mundane) items in museums.
But indoor museums with artifacts in cases behind glass is still the tip of the research iceberg. To really immerse yourself in the feel of the times visit living museums. There are hundreds of them and there’s nothing like walking into a colonial homestead and smelling the bread baking and hearing the chickens clucking.
Over the next couple of weeks I will be blogging some of the most famous and a few obscure villages in the wonderful United States of America.
For starters let’s begin at the beginning. Jamestown Settlement the first permanent settlement in colonial America.