With an abundance of information available today, it is necessary for researchers to have savvy evaluation skills. You need to use information tools wisely to research the context of a fact or quote given in a news story.
For example, The did-you-know website noted that “8 days before the Wright Brothers flew for the first time, the New York Times wrote that maybe ‘in 1 to 10 million years’ man could build a flyable plane.” This website linked to the source of the quote, “Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright” at biographycentral.net. This article stated:
The New York Times wrote, maybe in “1 million to 10 million years” they might be able to make a plane that would fly. It was only eight days after the U.S. Army failure and the prediction of the New York Times that the Wright brothers were successful in flying the first manned plane.
Notice that this source did not give the date nor the title of the article in the New York Times. When faced with an unknown source of information, you can use the library’s web resources to verify a fact. Since the library has a subscription to the New York Times ProQuest Historical database, you can search the database to find the article and determine the context. Searching for “million years” and fly and limiting to articles before 1904 produces several articles, including one titled “Flying Machines Which Do Not Fly”.
Reviewing the article for the quote “one million to ten million years” will help explain the context of the quote. The beginning of the article described a failed military test of a flying machine. Then, the author explained that birds and humans change in a slow evolutionary manner. This is the sentence where the quote can be found.
Hence, if it requires, say, a thousand years to fit for easy flight a bird which started with rudimentary wings, or ten thousand for one which started with no wings at all and had to sprout them ab initio, it might be assumed that the flying machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million years–provided, of course, we can meanwhile eliminate such drawbacks and embarrassments as the existing relation between weight and strength in inorganic materials.
Since the Wright Brothers didn’t achieve first flight of their plane until December 17, 1903, this was written 2 months and 8 days before the flight.