http://www.GenesReunited.co.uk can provide an array of dates, as can www.Ancestry.co.uk or FindMyPast may show an occupation or an address for distant relatives but none of these sites can compare with a factual diarist account of life. Imagine a Latvian boy soldier conscripted to fight during world war two on the Eastern front against a relentless, viscous Russian Red Army, by an invading, equally uncaring, German army.
When it comes to modern history, http://www.Amazon.co.uk ebooks fall short of true to life living history stored in the memory of relatives. As a historian, talking with neighbours, chronicling their lives, listening to work colleagues and family members can help to map the history of the modern world from the view point of ordinary people. After all, fact is often better than fiction.