If you could travel to the year 1820, how could you prove you were from the future?

I’m not sure I could. Despite what literature might say I think publicly predicting the future without changing the future would be very difficult. Either many will know about your prediction and it (at least subtlety) changes their thinking & future or few will and then the majority doubts your proof of foreknowledge.

Instead, I’d become a famous theorist and inventor, marry a pretty lady, and live life a-Yankee-in-king-Arthur’s-court style minus the falling asleep part.

Sufficient materials? And tools?

Hmm… I could probably pull it off if my life actually did depend on it. But arguably I have more aviation knowledge than average.

I would think you would need to focus on a more immediate proof, not something that will take months or years of effort to create. And it would need to be something any of us could do without specific knowledge.

Predictions would be difficult for the average person alive today. You would have to predict something that was about to happen in 1820, and unless you are an historian, not likely know what was going on that year.

I would look around at the technology of the day and find something where you could improve it by quantum leaps within a few minutes or hours. For me, a pedal-driven bicycle may be one of those things (I think they only had hobby-horse style bicycles at that point, but a combo of gears and a chain from the day could be used). That is a specific knowledge, tho.

A more pressing concern, tho, would be 1820’s diseases. I am not sure, but I believe small pox was still out there, and anyone alive today would be susceptible to it unless you were vaccinated (even then you may still get it). There may be strains of flu or other things floating around that we don’t have any immunity for. Food and water born illnesses were common, and our sterilized GI tracts may have issues. Maybe in the process of cooking and boiling the hell out of your food you would stumble on something that no one of the day had thought of yet, like Avocado toast.

Could you offer enough “theories” which other intelligent folk could prove?

I’m not sure what the exact state of scientific knowledge was in 1820, but most HS grads (who paid minimal attention in science classes) could offer some interesting theories on atomic structure, germ theory, tectonic drift, natural selection…

1820 is right around Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle, and 40 yrs before The Origin of Species. As I recall, Lyell was preparing his map around then. Heck - I’m not even sure how much they knew about Antarctica. But even tho I don’t know the exact state of scientific knowledge in 1820, if I went to a local library/university/scientific society, I could pretty readily identify some gaps in knowledge that I could fill.

By a kind 1820 passerby. I don’t think you can expect him to also give you a 2020 hoverboard.

Darwin was 11 in 1820 - The Beagle was commissioned in 1820, but its trip with Darwin happened in 1831.

Though probably less common 200 years ago, it’s never been extremely rare to to encounter people whose mannerisms speech, etc. seem unusual. When this happens, the natural human assumption has always been that they are from a different place, not a different time.

I was thinking that if the technology to travel 200 years back in time has been invented, it might be reasonable to know destination time and place before departing.

Perhaps in a place like America, where we can still read stuff written by 1800s writers and comprehend it well even if there is still a big gap in jargon or way of speaking. But I’ve heard that in places like China for example (since the OP didn’t limit his scenario to America or the West,) even going back as far as 1900 would make verbal communication near impossible for a modern Chinese person. Going back to 1820 would be even more so.

Have y’all seen Outlander? A lady goes back from 1945 or so, back to 1745 in Scotland. And she knows enough history of the time and place to attempt to stop the Jacobite rising. Plus she’s a hardened WWII nurse.

The first thing they are going to ask you to confirm your claim is “How does time travel work?” If you can’t answer that, no one is going to believe you are from the future.

Are you fighting the hypothetical? The OP specifies that you are transported “with no notice and no preparation.” The “technology” might be something like the Connecticut Yankee’s severe blow to the head.

I can draw a contiguous map of the US from memory. Most people can’t do that. In 1820, even though it was several years past the end of the Lewis and Clark expedition, few common people had any idea what the west was like. And as it happens, I’ve been in Texas, Arizona, Nevada, California, et al. If I could draw a map of North America, and have it confirmed by people who would actually know, and say what the climate and terrain were like in various places that few people had been to, and have those claims confirmed, then maybe I could convince people I came from a time when place-to-place travel was quick and easy. Since people grasped the idea of the march of technology by 1820, I might at least convince some people.

I wonder if the fact that I’d be impervious to a number of diseases would impress anyone? Most people who were immune to diseases by means of having survived them were scarred or weakened by them, and I wouldn’t be.

She also gets accused of witchcraft. That might still be a danger in 1820.

I just thought of something else-- I know exactly how a gas engine works. I can’t build one without the toold to do so, but I can draw one (I can draw pretty well). In fact, I could draw a lot of machines. I also know how a steam engine works, and could draw a diagram of one of those as well. I wonder if it would impress anyone that a woman would know that much about technology?

I also know how to use hand tools. I wouldn’t be as good at using them as people who use them every day, but I’d probably know a lot more than most women actually from 1820. I wonder how far knowing a lot of things that only men should know would make people wonder what sort of place I came from.

And I know how to do math that wasn’t in common use in 1820 even by men-- women were taught arithmetic, and that was it. Maybe being able to do some middling mathematics might carry some water.

I would also know the titles of books that had not been published, but soon would be.

But I think the real clincher might be my c-section scar.

Sure but, conversely, your stomach may be sickened by foods that their guts could handle and your more-modern GI tract couldn’t. Also, wasn’t this era (1820) before germ theory and all that was established? The whole concept of germs, viruses, and immunity might not register with them enough to impress them or connect their dots.

They might notice that you weren’t sickened, but not buy your explanation as to why not.

Wow, people have some … interesting ideas about the state of science in 1820. It’s not 1620 – people are not going to accuse you of witchcraft, unless you land in some remote village in Transylvania or something! And they already had vaccination for smallpox, although they didn’t know exactly why it worked, and they had observed microorganisms with microscopes, and some people had already floated the idea that they might transmit disease, so it wouldn’t be a total paradigm shift or a concept that people were incapable of comprehending. (Miasma theory was still the dominant paradigm, though, and you might be able to advance medical science several decades if you could offer convincing evidence that people should be paying attention to bacteria instead – but you would need enough background knowledge to pull off a demonstration that could provide that evidence, which is the hard part.)

I suppose it depends on where you were when you Marty McFly-ed yourself back to the past, but if you’re anywhere on the East Coast, you don’t need to go so far - just head to Dahlonega, Georgia, site of the 1828 Georgia gold rush. Easier to find, too - absent modern maps and GPS, are you certain you’d be able to locate the Sutter’s property on what wasn’t then named the American River? Whereas Dahlonega was a small but settled town in the 1820s.

I wonder how far you could get if you folded up and threw a a paper airplane in front of the right people?

Actually I think my best bet would be to become a great “inventor chef” and get filthy rich inventing and selling Morbo’s Potato Chips, Fries, Ice Cream, Hot Dogs, Cotton Candy, throw in some cocktails - invent a few like the Mai Tai, Margarita, Manhattan, etc, then I could publish a book ala Cocktail Bill Boothby.