CRITERIA FOR CLASSIFICATION
OF HISTORIC SITES AND
1. Structures or sites at which events occurred
that have made an outstanding contribution to,
and are identified prominently with, or which
best represent, the broad cultural, political, eco-
nomic, military, or social history of the Nation,
and from which visitors may grasp the larger
patterns of our American heritage.
2. Structures or sites associated importantly with
the 'lives of outstanding historic personages.
3. Structures or sites associated significantly with
an important event that best represents some great
idea or ideal of the American people.
4. Structures that embody the distinguishing
characteristics of an architectural type specimen,
exceptionally valuable for a study of a period
style or method of construction; or a notable
structure representing the work of a master
builder, designer, or architect.
5. Archeological sites that have produced in-
formation of major scientific importance by re-
vealing new cultures, or by shedding light upon
periods of occupation over large areas of the
United States. Such sites are those which have
produced, or which may reasonably be expected
to produce, data affecting theories, concepts, and
ideas to a major degree.
6. Every historic and archeological site and struc-
ture should have integrity-that is, there should
not be doubt as to whether it is the original site
or structure, and in the case of a structure, that
it represents original matentals and workmanship.
Intangible elements of feeling and association, al-
though difficult to describe, may be factors in
weighing the integrity of a site or structure.
7. Structures or sites which are primarily of
significance in the field of religion or to religious
bodies but are not of national importance in other
fields of the history of the United States, such
as political, military, or architectural history, will
not be eligible for consideration.
8. Birthplaces, graves, burials, and cemeteries,
as a general rule, are not eligible for consideration
and recognition except in cases of historical
figures of transcendent importance. Historic sites
associated with the actual careers and contribu-
tions of outstanding historical personages are
more important than their birthplaces and burial
9. Structures or sites associated with persons of
historical importance whose major contributions
occurred during the last 50 years, and historical
events of the same period, as a rule will not be
eligible for consideration.
SELECTING SITES FOR THE
NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM
Because of the number of important historic
sites associated with every period of American
history, the Federal Government cannot acquire
and administer all sites of exceptional value, or
support them financially. Only a limited number
of outstanding sites representing the different
phases of history and prehistory are administered
by the National Park Service.
In selecting sites for the National Park System,
the Secretary of the Interior is guided by the fol-
lowing considerations, subject, of couse, to such
congressional action as may be appropriate:
1. The site, when compared with other sites
of exceptional value in the same theme or period
of history, must stand out in national significance.
2. The site must be needed in the National
Park System to fill gaps in a theme or period of
history so that a well-rounded representation of
America's historical and cultural heritage may be
3. The site must be suitable for, and adaptable
to, effective preservation, administration, inter-
pretation, development, and use.
4. The site must have integrity. It is difficult to
interpret the significance of a site or tell its story
effectively if large parts of it or its surroundings
have been radically altered during the passage of
time. In the selection of sites, preference is given
to those possessing substantial physical remains.
5. The site must be feasible in terms of availa-
bility, cost of .acquisition, restoration, develop-
ment, maintenance, operation, and interpreta-
tion, and from the standpoint of the fiscal
program of the Government.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE
=.=, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
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For sale by the Superintendent of Documents; U.S. Government Printing
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THE NATIONAL SURVEY
OF HISTORIC SITES
HISTORY ... AN ENDURING
The National Survey of Historic Sites and
Buildings is based on the premise that the pre-
servation of our historical heritage is of funda-
mental importance to the people of this Nation.
History enriches life. It is the key to a past
that lives on in our own times. The places where
history was made are doorways to the past.
Properly preserved and commemorated, his-
toric sites open upon pathways of study where
historical knowledge and inspiration can be
found. The National Survey is concerned with
these places where history was made.
THE NATIONAL SURVEY ...
WHAT IS IT?
The National Survey is a program to identify
and evaluate places that commemorate events
and persons of outstanding national importance
in American history. Authority for this program
is contained in the Historic Sites Act of 1935,
which directed the Secretary of the Interior to
"make a survey of historic and archeologic sites,
buildings, and objects for the purpose of deter-
mining which possess exceptional value as com-
memorating or illustrating the history of the
Products of the National Survey include:
A descriptive list or inventory of sites and
buildings significant in the history and
prehistory of this country.
A series of authoritative studies describing
the historical context and relative sig-
nificance of these sites and buildings.
A Registry of National Historic Landmarks
by which the Federal Government gives
special recognition to historic sites and
buildings of exceptional value, regardless
of their ownership.
Recommendations that certain superlative
historic sites be considered for addition to
the National Park System.
Publication of the results of the National
Survey for the use of scholars, teachers,
and the growing number of citizens in all
walks of life who cherish the places where
our history was made.
All of these activities contribute to one great
purpose: To encourage the preservation of na-
tionally significant historic sites and buildings
for the inspiration and benefit of the people of
the United States.
HOW THE NATIONAL SURVEY
For convenience the entire field of American
history and prehistory has been divided into 22
major themes. Each theme covers a particular,
unified topic, such as, Prehistoric Indians, Span-
ish Exploration, English Colonial Development,
Westward Expansion, or the Civil War. This
thematic approach makes possible a comparative
evaluation of sites. When all the sites in each
theme are compared, those of greatest importance
are selected for exceptional value classification.
Sites are evaluated on the bases of (1) his-
torical significance and (2) integrity. The first
relates to the importance of the site in history;
the second to the present condition of the site.
Complete criteria are presented elsewhere in this
As each theme comes up for study, National
Park Service historians located at strategic points
throughout the country engage in research and
identify events and persons important in the
theme. They then prepare working lists of sites
associated with these events and persons. Next
the historians visit the sites to determine their
present condition or integrity. Research and field
investigations are set forth in a report that de-
scribes the historical context, relative significance,
and integrity of each site. The report is then
subjected to preliminary evaluation by the Con-
sulting Committee for the National Survey of
Historic Sites and Buildings, and to further
evaluation by the Advisory Board on National
Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings, and Monuments.
These two bodies, composed of eminent au-
thorities in various fields of knowledge, are ap-
pointed to advise the Director of the National
Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior,
respectively. These committees apply the criteria
carefully to each site studied by the National
Park Service historians. The Advisory Board
recommends selected sites to the Secretary of
the Interior for exceptional value classification.
Upon the Secretary's approval, classified sites are
eligible for the Registry of National Historic
Throughout the phases of research, field in-
vestigation, and evaluation, the work of the Na-
tional Survey benefits from cooperation with
National, State, and local organizations devoted
to the preservation of historic and archeologic
sites. Many of these organizations are affiliated
with the National Trust for Historic Preservation,
which is co-sponsor of the National Survey. These
groups, in turn, benefit from the evaluation of
sites within their purview. This mutual coopera-
tion is necessary because of the wide scope of
historical preservation in this country. Respon-
sibility for preservation is rightly shared by a''
multitude of agencies. The share of the Federal
Government is two-fold: (1) through the Reg-
istry of National Historic Landmarks it recognizes
significant historic sites and thus encourages their
preservation by private, State, and local agencies;
and (2) subject to appropriate congressional
action in each case, it seeks to acquire and ad-
minister a small number of superlative sites for
the benefit of the Nation at large.
STATUS AND FUTURE
All major themes are programed for com-
pletion by the end of 1966. The United States,
then for the first time, will have a full inventory
of its major historical and archeological resources.
Though reappraisals and reevaluations will have
to be made periodically, the basic National Sur-
vey as a formal, full-fledged program will have
Two of its major functions, however, will con-
tinue: The Registry of National Historic Land-
marks (described in a companion folder) and
publication of the theme studies. The publica-
tion program will present to the public the com-
pleted inventory of historic sites in a planned
16-volume set. This set will be an authoritative
guide to the Nation's nationally significant his-
toric sites and buildings, presented in their his-