National Park Service
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About Our Program
Our Mission | Our History | Our Projects | Contact Us | Credits

Return to top of page Our Mission The National Park Service Maritime Heritage Program works to advance awareness and understanding of the role of maritime affairs in the history of the United States. Through leadership, assistance, and expertise in maritime history, preservation, and archeology we help to interpret and preserve our maritime heritage by:
red diamond Maintaining inventories of historic U.S. maritime properties
red diamond Providing preservation assistance through publications and consultation
red diamond Educating the public about maritime heritage through our web site
red diamond Sponsoring maritime heritage conferences and workshops
red diamond Funding maritime heritage projects when grant assistance is available
We work in partnership both within and outside the National Park Service. Partners within the National Park Service have included the Archeology and Ethnography Program, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, the National Register of Historic Places, Heritage Preservation Services, the Submerged Cultural Resources Unit, as well as NPS Regional Offices and Parks. Outside the Service, we have worked with organizations such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the Naval Historical Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, State Historic Preservation Offices, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the maritime preservation community in general.

Return to top of page Our History During the 1980s Congress recognized that preservation planning and funding had generally neglected historic maritime properties and archaeological sites. This resulted in a Congressional request to the National Park Service to "conduct a survey of historic maritime resources, recommend standards and priorities for the preservation of those resources; and recommend appropriate Federal and private sector roles in addressing those priorities." (Congressional Record, Oct. 10, 1984, p.11922) In response to this request, the NPS created a special office to survey, evaluate, and recommend preservation methods for historic maritime resources. This office was established in 1987 as the National Maritime Initiative within the NPS History Division.

In 1994, the Initiative's role in maritime preservation expanded with the passage of the National Maritime Heritage Act (Public Law 103-451). Under this legislation the Initiative was named as one of several partners responsible for coordinating a national maritime heritage policy and administering a grants program supporting maritime heritage preservation and education projects. More recently, we have been requested to participate in the national historic light station program authorized under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act (Public Law 106-355). As well, we have taken on a more active role in educating the public about maritime history and preservation through our web site, publications, and technical assistance.

Today, we are called the Maritime Heritage Program and are part of the NPS Park History Program within the National Center for Cultural Resources Stewardship and Partnerships.

Return to top of page Our Projects
Maritime Inventories | Preservation Assistance | The Web
Conferences and Workshops | Maritime Grants

Return to top of section Maritime Inventories Our database inventories provide us with the numbers, types, condition, and location of historic maritime properties located in the U.S. and serve as useful tools for making decisions regarding preservation needs and priorities. Data is gathered from a variety of sources including the National Register of Historic Places Information System (NRIS), the List of Classified Structures (LCS), as well as other Federal agencies, State offices, and the maritime community. Inventories are currently maintained for the following types of resources:
red diamond Large Preserved Historic Vessels
red diamond Historic Light Stations
red diamond Historic Lifesaving Stations (developed through a partnership with the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association)
red diamond Shipwrecks and Hulks
red diamond Small Craft (developed through a cooperative agreement with the Museum Small Craft Association)
We have published two of the inventories, the 1990 Inventory of Large Preserved Historic Vessels and the 1994 Inventory of Historic Light Stations. Portions of the ship and lighthouse inventories are currently available through our web pages while access to the MSCA small craft database is hosted by the Mystic Seaport museum web site.

Return to top of section Preservation Assistance The Maritime Heritage Program provides technical assistance in preservation planning for historic maritime properties and underwater archaeological resources. These activities include assessment of impacts from redevelopment, construction, demolition, or restoration; mitigation of adverse effects; review of archeological research designs; review of restoration plans. The Initiative also participates in policy formulation and review regarding Federal maritime preservation planning efforts. Through various partnership projects we have also developed a number of publications addressing maritime preservation standards and guidelines.

We can also provide advice for nominating maritime resources to the National Register of Historic Places. Bulletins for nominating historic vessels and shipwrecks, and aids to navigation to the Register are available to assist in this task. As well, we can provide guidance on the National Historic Landmark designation process and sample nominations. A number of landmark studies for ships and lighthouses are available on our web site.

Return to top of section The Web Through our web site we strive to provide quality information about maritime history and preservation. As mentioned previously, many of our publications and NHL studies are available on our site. We also connect you to NPS maritime parks and many other historic ships, lighthouses, and lifesaving stations that you can visit. As well, we provide select materials addressing topics on lighthouse heritage as well as links to more about historic ships and the current maritime world.

Return to top of section Conferences and Workshops Since its inception, our program has supported and sponsored several maritime heritage conferences and workshops. In the fall of 2001, we assisted in the organization of the
6th Maritime Heritage Conference
Wilmington, North Carolina
October 25-28, 2001

Return to top of section Maritime Grants Currently, we have no funding available for grants. Our most recent grants cycle was in 1998 under the Maritime Heritage Grants Program. Through this program we were able to support 39 maritime heritage education and preservation projects.

Return to top of page Contact Us Link to our Contacts page.

Return to top of page Credits Many people have been instrumental in the design and content of the Maritime Heritage Program website. While authors and photographers are credited on individual pages, there are many others who have gone uncredited. These contributors include:

    Richard Anderson
    Marianne Babal
    Hallie Brooker
    Candace Clifford
    Lynn Cullivan
    James P. Delgado
    Ralph Eshelman
    Kevin J. Foster
    Curt Knoerl
    Jane Lee
    George Mendez
    Michael Naab
    David Nettell
    Helen Nolte
    Jennifer Perunko

Return to Maritime home page

Last Modified: Fri, Oct 13 2000 9:59:02 am EDT

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