Background Information Examples
Background information is information given in a non-fiction essay/text that the reader needs in order to understand the overall theme of the text or point the writer is attempting to make.
Background information is often provided after the hook, or opening statement that is used to grab the reader's attention. The type and amount of background information provided by the writer will depend on the purpose and topic of the essay. The writer may need to provide some definitions, or perhaps an overview of the problem being addressed in the essay.
In his inaugural speech at Rice University, John F. Kennedy spoke about the space race and going to the moon. This is just some of the background information he included in his speech about the pace of progress and human history:
No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man¹s recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power.
As he began his "I have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. provided some historical context for the fight for freedom:
Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree is a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free.
Abraham Lincoln began "The Gettysburg Address" with the hook that the founding fathers espoused that all men are created equal. Then he provided this background information about the current context of the Civil War:
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
Literary Terms Examples