I guess what I'm asking is for tips that make doing research easier. With Google, I often have the same issue of reading a hundred pages to find one page worth of information that I can really use. I was thinking maybe I was going about it wrong.
Again, this had probably already been answered, but ...
It depends on the information you're searching for. If you want to know the dialogue at the time, your best bet it to read a few books from the time, and use that as a guide. Sure, there's a big difference between common people and the educated classes, but since the common people left no record of their musings, they don't really get a vote on the matter. If they did (want a vote) they would have gone to college and published a few books! 'D
There are other sources of information. Google, like Wikipedia, is only a starting point, and like Wiki, you need to authenticate their information.
You can get very detailed information on Quora by asking a question and having members volunteer information, it's very hard to get anyone to respond if you're not an active member.
For difficult questions, your best bet is often specialty forums like this one. You could try historical, technology, or gun-porn forums. Lesbian and cop forums aren't out of the question, either, and aren't a bad way to generate interest in your book before it's released. (If you offer it to a few members of the forum to review for accuracy, you can then highlight their reviews on the forum later as a sales tool.)
But, in most cases, you want actual experiences rather than lists, so it'll take a little searching to discover people who've lived in whichever roles you're searching for. In my case, for an as yet unpublished book, I asked here for experience concerning the NYPD police. For the lesbian details, I asked a few lesbians at my church, who then had a chance to review the results before I finished it.
That's not a real detailed answer, but it's how I get my most specific answers.