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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin: Guidelines for Local Surveys: A Basis for Preservation Planning

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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service

Review and Organization of Survey Data

Chapter III

Before survey data can be integrated into the community planning process, it must be compiled in a systematic manner and reviewed for content, clarity, and accuracy. Properties identified must be evaluated against established criteria. The data must be stored in a form that makes key elements readily retrievable, and that protects the information against loss and deterioration. This section discusses what can be done with survey data, including how an inventor-that is, a selective list of significant properties-can be derived from the data. Methods of compiling, evaluating, and storing the data are considered. This against established criteria. The data must be stored in phase of the project should be undertaken with special care because it will have a direct effect on the usefulness of the inventory for planning purposes.

How are survey data reviewed during fieldwork?

Organization and review of survey data should begin while fieldwork is still in progress, although naturally they will continue after fieldwork is complete. Descriptions of physical appearance and other observations made in the field should be checked against photographs and documentary evidence gathered by the researchers. Maps and other reference material may be used to verify locations of resources that are surveyed.

In order to use the review of survey data to correct mistakes and inaccuracies in field reporting, the data produced by each survey team in each area should be reviewed and organized as soon as possible after it is produced. Fieldwork should not be allowed to get too far ahead of review, organization, and analysis of data. Information gathered in the field must be integrated with documentary evidence uncovered during archival research. This responsibility may be assumed by the survey coordinator. Inconsistencies-descriptions not matching photographs, questions of ownership, conflicting dates of construction-should be carefully reviewed, and, if necessary, additional archival research or fieldwork should be done to achieve consistency.

Treatment of Forms

Forms used in the field are usually considered rough working copies rather than final documents. Surveyors should review forms filled out in the field to make sure that observations are clear, terminology is correct, and descriptions are complete and accurate. After the preliminary forms have been reviewed by the survey coordinator or other knowledgeable persons, final forms for archival purposes should be prepared. Where an automated data processing system will be used in maintaining the survey data, the relevant information should be entered into the system from the forms at this point. If narrative descriptions are prepared from the forms, these too should be checked and edited, using original survey forms and photographs for verification.

Organization of Other Notes

Supplementary notes taken in the field, both with respect to particular resources and with reference to the progress of the survey in general, should be compiled as the survey progresses. Since a given page of notes may include information on several different properties or areas, or touch on a number of different topics, it is often useful to photocopy notes as soon as they come in. The original can then be filed safely to guard against loss of data during analysis, while the copy can be cut up in order to reorganize its contents, combine contents with other notes and forms, and organize files providing full data on particular properties, areas, or historic contexts.

Organization of Photographs

As photographs are processed, they should be promptly correlated with forms and other field data. The accuracy of photo records should be checked, and relevant roll and frame numbers should be entered on the final forms.

Organization of Maps

Certain maps will usually have been prepared before fieldwork begins; for example, maps indicating the probable locations of properties relevant to different historic contexts, maps showing the predicted locations of subsurface archeological resources, and maps showing the locations of properties identified during previous surveys. As the new survey data are processed, these maps may be corrected, but it is usually wise to preserve a copy of each map originally prepared on the basis of archival research in order to compare pre-fieldwork expectations with actual results.

As data from the field are processed, properties should be located on a master map or maps. Each property mapped should be assigned a number, name, or other designator that makes it possible to relate the mark on the map to the form or forms that describe the actual property. Master maps should be consistent in size and type with those used by the State Historic Preservation Officer in the statewide comprehensive survey (usually USGS Quads), or should be of a size and scale to allow correlation with existing community planning base maps. As each step of the survey work is completed, data should be transferred to these maps. As the maps are filled in they should be reviewed to see what patterns are developing that may not be obvious on the ground; analysis of mapped data may make it possible to locate concentrations of historic resources other than those district identified through archival work or evident in the field.

To avoid duplication of effort and to minimize confusion in future planning, it is essential that information concerning the nature and intensity of survey coverage be maintained in a clear and understandable format. It may be most effective to prepare a map or map overlays indicating which areas have been surveyed and which have not and identifying any differences in the type or intensity of survey among various areas. For example, areas that have been intensively surveyed for all types of historic resources would be differentiated from areas that have been surveyed intensively for architectural resources and only cursorily inspected for archeological resources. Such data may be recorded on coded map overlays, in block by block summaries, or in any other clear way.

Sketch maps for both individual properties and historic districts should be checked for accuracy and clarity. District sketch maps should be checked to make sure that all individual properties in the district are shown and that all outstanding features, intrusions, and boundaries are clearly marked. Street names and/or highway numbers should also be shown. Descriptions of the boundaries and inclusive street addresses should be checked against the sketch map to insure that they are consistent and that properties have not been inadvertently included or omitted. Sketch maps of archeological sites should be checked to ensure that such data as the location of surface features and subsurface exposures, the location of test pits, backhoe trenches, or auger holes, and cross-references to other notes, stratigraphic drawings, and remote sensing data are accurate and complete, and that key reference points (e.g., streets, buildings) are included to assist in relocating the site. A north arrow (magnetic or true) and scale should be added to the map, if not already present. It may be necessary to redraw district sketch maps once ail the necessary checking and clarification has been done. Care should be taken in redrawing sketch maps to ensure that elements noted in the field are not lost, and to guard against creative reinterpretation of actual field conditions.

As archival research and fieldwork are completed. it may be useful to prepare a variety of kinds of maps to aid in evaluation and planning. Maps -r multiple overlays on a master map, showing the following categories of information are often prepared:

1. Predicted areas of sensitivity. Areas where, based on survey work to date, it is predicted that significant historic resources may occur should be identified on maps. Such maps can help guide continuing survey efforts and provide community planners with early warning of potential conflicts between development and preservation, even when survey data are not yet complete.

2. Areas where survey is needed. Areas where the analysis of historic contexts and survey priorities indicate that survey is necessary, but where survey has not yet occurred, should be identified on maps, and eliminated as the survey progresses.

3. Buildings and structures. All buildings and structures, regardless of age, should be mapped, differentiating those that contribute to the character of the area surveyed from those that do not. (See definitions of contributing and noncontributing resources)

4. Architectural style or period. A map plotting architectural periods might be prepared by an architectural historian to show areas with particular design characteristics. This information may assist in identifying districts.

5. Historical events. Based on information gathered by archival researchers, and oral history or ethnography, a map may be prepared showing structures, sites, or areas associated with historic events, trends, activities, or important individuals in the history of the community. This information may also assist in identifying districts.

6. Cultural groups. A map or series of maps showing the locations and distribution of different social, economic, or ethnic groups at various periods in the past may be prepared.

This map may serve to identify present-day neighborhoods having particular historic, architectural, or cultural characteristics, and areas that may have importance for historical archeology.

7. Archeological data. The locations of all sites, structures, building, districts, and objects of archeological importance can be mapped and coded to indicate period, type of property, condition, and other data. Based on archival research and/or fieldwork, maps may be prepared showing areas where archeological properties of different kinds are likely to occur, or where care should be taken during future construction or other development to minimize damage to buried archeological resources that cannot now be seen on the surface. It is important that archeological site location data be protected to avoid its misuse by artifact collectors who may both damage archeological sites and commit acts of trespass in their search for objects (Indian artifacts, old bottles, etc.) for sale or addition to their collections.

8. Visual features. Features identified by visual analysis-views and vistas, edges, focal points, cultural landscapes, streetscapes, visually prominent structures-may also be indicated diagrammatically on a map.

9. Existing building uses. Mapping the uses of all buildings within a given area often indicates the physical and developmental status of the area and may be useful for planning purposes. Standard planning color codes may be used to indicate zoning and various uses such as single-family residence, office, or retail use.

10. Building condition. Color-coding can also be used to show buildings in good condition, those needing minor or major repairs, and those dilapidated or structurally unsound.

How and why are resources evaluated?

The primary reason to evaluate properties found through the survey is to designate those which are worthy of preservation and should be considered in local planning. These properties may be listed in a historic resources inventor-a selective list of resources meeting establishing criteria of significance. By providing information on historic significance, integrity, and boundaries, survey results may provide the basis for designation of historic properties and districts under a local preservation ordinance and subsequently serve as an authoritative basis for design review and other functions of the local historic preservation commission. Furthermore, decisions concerning a wide range of local preservation activities, both private and public, ranging from main street revitalization to tax abatement programs can be based on the evaluations made during the survey process.

A related purpose of the evaluation process is to identify properties for nomination to the National Register or those on which determinations of eligibility for the National Register should be made as part of Federal environmental review processes, and those that may be certified as eligible for Federal assistance through grants and tax credits.

The community should strongly consider using the National Register criteria given on page as a 5 basis for evaluation. Developed by the National Park Service for evaluating potential entries to the National Register, the criteria are broadly worded to provide for the diversity of resources within rural areas, towns, and cities across the country. These criteria, used by the Federal government and the State historic preservation programs, are the national standard for evaluating historic resources. The use of historic contexts provides a mechanism for translating the broad National Register criteria into locally meaningful terms. For example, the National Register criteria allow any property that is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past to be regarded as eligible for listing, but it is the historic contexts of the area that define who such people were.

If criteria different from those of the National Register must be used, the community may wish to consider a dual evaluation system, using the National Register criteria as well as its own. The rationale for this is that it is properties included in and eligible for the National Register-not a separate local listing based on different criteria-that Federal agencies and governments receiving Federal assistance are required to consider in planning their projects. In evaluating the significance of resources, communities may find it useful to refer to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Evaluation.

Evaluation of historic resources should be made with reference to the historic contexts established during survey planning or during the survey itself. In essence, this involves identifying the historic context or contexts to which each property might relate and then deciding whether and how it does-or does not-fit into the context.

Evaluation decisions should be made by people who are qualified, through education, training, and experience, to apply the criteria with reference to the relevant historic contexts. Many communities establish review boards to make evaluation decisions. It is important that such a board include professionals in the disciplines of architectural history, history, archeology, architecture, and other fields appropriate to the historic contexts of the community. The board should also include people broadly representative of the community and its cultural groups. Board members should be familiar with the range of properties included in the National Register, as most of the properties selected for the community inventory may well be eligible for National Register listing. The National Park Service's Manual for State Historic Preservation Review Boards (see Bibliography) is recommended reading for local review board members.

The evaluation process should ensure a balanced and adequate consideration of all resources in the survey area. Evaluation should be based solely on the historic, architectural, archeological, and cultural values perceived in the properties involved, without consideration of the economic value of such properties or how they may be treated in planning. In other words, properties should be evaluated purely on their merits. Decisions about what to do with properties evaluated as significant should be made separately.

The survey coordinator often presents the survey data to the evaluation group. The data is ordinarily organized to present a) the historic context involved; b) enough information on each property to assign it to a property type within the context, compare it with the characteristics expected of its type, locate it on the ground, and define its boundaries; and c) an argument as to why the property is or is not significant within the relevant historic context. Forms, photographs, maps, archival documentation, and surveyors' field notes are used in such presentations, often along with slide shows and planning base maps.

The inventory should be open, so that properties can be added as they are identified through survey work and as they come to be regarded as historic by the changing community. For this reason, review boards are often established by statute with permanent official status in local government, providing continuing oversight to the survey and evaluation process. In order to be certified for participation in the national historic preservation program under Section 101(c) of the National Historic Preservation Act, a community must establish its historic preservation commission by statute.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using numerical and categorical evaluation systems?

Systems that assign numerical scores to surveyed historic resources for the purpose of establishing preservation priority categories have been developed by many communities. Summaries of several studies that use such evaluation systems are included in the appendix.

The premise behind these systems is that the relative architectural, historical, and archeological significance of resources can be evaluated on numerical scales, permitting the resources to be placed within distinct priority categories. While it is essential that the results of the survey be incorporated into an overall community preservation plan (discussed in the introduction), numerical rating systems may not be the most effective way of determining priorities. The basic logistical problem with such systems is the difficulty in working with often complex rating formulas. Numerical systems can also give a false sense of certainty in judgement about resources: in quantifying intangibles like significance, it is questionable whether the difference between one building scoring 79 and another scoring 80 is really meaningful.

It is difficult to assess the number of points which should be given for any one aspect of significance. Although a building of national significance may receive more points than one of local significance, the locally significant building may be more critical to the character of the community. It is equally difficult to balance historical significance against architectural significance and to determine how many points each should receive. Finally, it is difficult to evaluate diverse resources within one system. For example, how does one evaluate an early industrial paper mill against a Frank Lloyd Wright house or an Indian burial mound?

Categorizing resources by total numerical score may lead to serious problems. Some cities have found that opponents of preservation projects use the classification systems to their advantage. While a community may intend to establish priorities for preservation activities by categorizing its historic resources, the system can be used to encourage the sacrifice of lower priority resources in situations also involving resources from the higher priority categories. Public officials or decision makers may themselves also neglect to give due consideration to buildings with less than the highest numerical rankings. Conversely, a property that achieves a high rating may be perceived by some to be inviolate purely because of its historical value. This is inappropriate because decisions about what to do with a property, regardless of its level of significance, involve not only the historical value of the property but also community needs and interests, development priorities, and changing economic, legal, and social constraints.

Another problem with numerical systems is that they may not be sufficiently flexible. It may be difficult to move a property from one category to another if the factors used originally to categorize it change. Numerical evaluation systems generally do not provide for adjustment based on the discovery of additional resources, loss of similar resources, discovery of new data, or change in the condition of the evaluated resources.

The experience of the National Park Service suggests that the complexities inherent in historic resources evaluations and the number of other factors that must be considered in establishing preservation priorities do not lend themselves to simple numerical formulas. Case-by-case evaluation of resources may provide a more accurate assessment of the significance of resources and thus a more realistic basis for planning decisions.

What kinds of due process considerations may be required in evaluating properties?

In evaluating privately owned properties for listing in an inventory, it may be legally necessary and is always prudent to notify property owners and give them the opportunity to comment on the proposed listing. Such notification is required by law with respect to nominations to the National Register. Depending on local law, due process requirements for listing properties may involve public hearings and the opportunity to rebut the findings of the survey.

The State Historic Preservation Officer can assist in meeting Federal requirements for property owner notification in connection with National Register nominations. The community's legal counsel should be able to establish what due process requirements may be imposed by State and local law. The rationale for such requirements springs from the fact that listing in the National Register and in some State and local inventories may confer economic advantages on a property owner and conversely may impose some constraints on his or her use of the property. As a result, if listing in the inventory gives no legal protection or restrictions on properties, due process procedures may not be required by law, Even where they are not required, however, it is wise to involve property owners in the evaluation process in order to maintain community support for the preservation program and avoid misunderstanding.

What kind of documentation should be included in the inventory files?

Documentation on each property selected for the inventory should include the final, clean form describing the property, pertinent supplementary data, relevant maps and sketches, record photographs, and an evaluation of the property's significance. In many cases, it may be appropriate to keep some of these items in different files: for example, base maps showing the location of a property or relating it to other aspects of an historic context may be too large to file physically with the property form and notes, and negatives of photographs should normally be filed separately to ensure their protection from deterioration. In such a case, files should be cross-referenced so that all information pertinent to a given property or a given historic context can be found and correlated. A microcomputer-based catalogue is useful for this purpose, as discussed below.

Evaluations of significance are sometimes entered on survey forms, and may be provisional, that is representing the survey team's judgement during fieldwork, or final based on the judgement of the review board or its equivalent. Alternatively, the community may wish to prepare special inventory forms for those properties determined to be significant. A longer narrative form may be patterned after National Register forms. If survey forms have been adequately refined and evaluations are integrated into or kept with the other survey data, it may not be necessary for the community to spend extra time preparing special inventory forms.

How can information be stored to permit retrieval at a later date?

As the survey data are evaluated, they must be organized for storage and further use. Decisions must be made about two things: how the data can be kept in a way that makes it most accessible and usable to those who need it, and how the physical products of the survey-forms, maps, photographs, surveyors' notes, evaluators' comments, and so forth-will be kept secure for future reference. The first issue involves decisions about data retrieval, the second about physical filing and security systems.

Data Retrieval

Decisions about how to maintain data in a retrievable form must be based on the community's needs. Thus, as discussed in Chapter 1, the community should determine how it expects or wishes the survey data to be used (i.e., what its information needs are) before devising its storage and retrieval system. Advance planning should enable the community to avoid wasting time and money on the development of a system that does not meet real informational needs.

The efficient use of survey data in community planning demands the use of an information system that makes basic data readily accessible, that allows information to be combined in different ways, and that permits the easy entry of new data. Keeping information current is a time-consuming task, but one that can be minimized with a modern data processing and retrieval system and a trained staff.

The basic information retrieval systems, as distinguished from the survey data files themselves, is often referred to as a catalogue. It is used, just as is a library card catalogue, to determine the location of full survey data needed for particular tasks, but it can also itself contain the most frequently used information about surveyed properties, thus eliminating the need for frequent reference to bulky manual files. The more readily available the key elements of the survey data are, the more likely they are to be used by local planners and others involved in community development.

The amount of information each catalogue entry should contain depends on how the catalogue is to be used. If the catalogue is only to be used as a guide to the location of survey files that are in good order and are relatively easy to use, it may be little more than an index to the files, each entry including only name, location, classification, and possibly the date of the property. If the catalogue is to be used by groups in different places-planning offices, research centers, libraries-without immediate access to the survey files themselves, the catalogue will be of little use unless it contains more information. If users are likely to want to combine data in different forms for different purposes-to seek out all buildings of a particular style for a research project, for example, or to identify the locations of all historic properties of all kinds in a given area for purposes of development project planning-it will be appropriate for the catalogue to contain still more information. In these cases, it will be far easier to combine and recombine data using the catalogue only rather than to do so by digging through the full body of survey data. A typical catalogue entry in a system designated for substantial use in planning and research might include the name of the property, address, geographical data, property type, owner, short description, and a statement of significance.

The National Register maintains a computerized information system that is a useful model for communities to consider, although some of its data entries are specifically designed for the Register's own purposes and would require adaptation to meet local needs. A current description of the system and its contents can be obtained from National Park Service Regional Offices or from the National Register in Washington, DC.

What form should the catalogue take? Again, the deciding factor is how it will be used. A complicated system may become a burden to those responsible for maintaining it, but a system that does not permit easy cross-referencing and recombination of data for planning purposes, may become an expensive, useless

overhead burden on the community.

A fully operational catalogue system should ideally be able to provide:

1. Rapid, easy access to information such as location, names of properties, types of ownership, uses, date, significance, etc.

2. Information services for land-use, policy, and project planning.

3. Comprehensive lists of, and information on, properties or types of properties for setting protection and enhancement priorities,

4. Information on what areas of the community have been surveyed and how comprehensive the survey is to date.

5. Clear identification of the location of further information on each property in the hard data survey files.

The most commonly used catalogue systems are:

1. Computer-based systems. These are by far the most flexible and broadly useful of catalogue systems, because of the tremendous amount of information that can be entered into the system, the ease with which information can be retrieved, and the variety of ways such information can be combined and sorted for different purposes. A great many readily available packaged programs for the maintenance and use of files are applicable to the maintenance of a survey catalogue. There should be no need to design a program specific to the community's purposes.

Inexpensive microcomputers are fully adequate for the maintenance and use of survey catalogue data in most communities. There should seldom be any need to use expensive mainframe computers, unless the community uses such a computer for other purposes and can make it available at a competitive price for the maintenance of survey data. Even where use of a mainframe computer is possible, it is wise to design the catalogue in such a way that it can be accessed through microcomputers as well, in order to ensure maximum accessibility by the greatest number of authorized users at all times,

In addition to providing easy access to information such as property location, significance, uses, and owners, a computer-based system makes it easy to eliminate inconsistent information and to correct, update, and add to existing material. Such a system has the capacity to quickly generate complex listings: all buildings located within the path of a proposed highway, all federally owned resources, properties needing restoration or rehabilitation work, buildings certified for rehabilitation tax credits. Readily available file search and graphics programs can make it possible to generate maps showing areas surveyed at different levels of intensity or with reference to different resource types, areas predicted on the basis of archival research or reconnaissance to contain specified kinds of properties, or the distribution of specified property types. File maintenance programs typically include provision for placing security codes on particular files, so that information to which the community wishes to restrict access-for example, archeological site descriptions and locations that might attract artifact collectors-can be kept secure.

As noted in Chapter 1, in deciding on what kind of computer-based system to use, the community should consider its needs for consistency with two kinds of larger systems. On the one hand, consistency with other systems used in the community for other purposes is obviously desirable, both to permit sharing of hardware and software and more importantly to facilitate the use of survey data in community planning. On the other hand, consistency with systems used in the storage and retrieval of survey data in larger geographic areas should be considered. Consistency with the National Register Information System will facilitate National Register nominations and certification for tax benefits. Consistency with the system used by the State Historic Preservation Officer will make it easy to coordinate the local survey with the statewide comprehensive survey. Consistency with he systems used by Federal and State planning and land use agencies in the area (Coastal Zone Management, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Corps of Engineers) will help ensure that these agencies will take the local survey data into account in their planning, and will make it possible for the local survey to tap the agencies' information resources. Consistency with the systems of academic institutions, museums, and other non-governmental entities that maintain information on historic properties in the area should also be considered. For example, if a university anthropology department maintains local archeological site files, it may be efficient to design a system that is consistent with that used by the university so that data can be readily shared for both community planning and university research purposes.

2. Cards. Card-based filing systems have been made virtually obsolete by the rapid growth of computer technology and the decrease in the cost of computer hardware and software. Before opting for a card-based system, with its inherent limitations, a community should carefully consider its alternatives. A community that adopts a card-based system is very likely to want to replace it with a computer-based system before very many years have passed, and the cost of transferring the data from one system to another at that time may be considerable. If a computer-based system is truly not feasible, however, cards are a reasonable alternative. A 5-by-7 or 8-by-10 inch card can be used simply as a reference to a complete property file, as with card catalogues used in libraries, or it can include such information as name, address, geographical data, building type, owner, short description, and statement of significance. The master card for each property could also include a section of map and a small photograph.

Many different card systems are available from private companies. Edge-punched cards-early precursors of computer-based catalogue systems-use punched holes along the edges of cards as a sorting device. Holes are punched according to a code that refers to the different data entries; a needle-like device is then passed through the edges of a trayful of cards, and those with the appropriate hole codes are caught on the needle. If well planned, this system may be quite efficient for inventories of under approximately 1,000 sites.

3. Publications. A catalogue printed in booklet or other form can be widely disseminated but has the great disadvantage that effective updating requires republication. See Chapter V for more information on publications.

Whatever system or combination of systems is employed, the catalogue should be systematically organized, with each entry thoroughly recorded and cross-referenced to back-up hard data files, and accessible to the interested public and to appropriate user agencies and organizations. Communities seeking certification to participate in the national historic preservation program under Section 101(c) of the National Historic Preservation Act should ensure that their catalogue systems are consistent with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Registration, which require that registration of historic properties be conducted according to stated procedures, contain information that locates, describes, and justifies the significance and physical integrity of each registered property, and be accessible to the public. The Standards permit information on the location of historic properties to be withheld from the public, if revealing such information could cause damage to a property-for example, if revealing the locations of fragile archeological sites could lead to their destruction by artifact seekers.

Hard Data Filing Systems

The hard data on paper and film that are the physical products of the survey must be filed in a manner that not only makes them reasonably accessible but also protects them. In contrast with the catalogue, where accessibility and flexibility of use are the key considerations, in establishing a hard data filing system the archival, curatorial need to maintain the material products of the survey in perpetuity becomes paramount.

The three basic decisions that must be made about devising a filing system are the physical form of the file, the order in which files will be kept, and the protection of the files.

1. Physical form of the file. Survey data may be stored in vertical files, one folder per property. In this way, forms, photographs, maps, results of historical research, and other material on a property may be kept together. Such a system of files would facilitate updating information and adding photographs and maps. Loose leaf notebooks may be used in the same way as vertical files. It may be useful to consult an archivist concerning the proper procedure for storing loose papers. Tapes from interviews may have to be stored separately but should be clearly identified with the names of those recorded, the topic of discussion, and the date of the recording. Special considerations for photograph files are discussed later.

2. Order. A common method of organizing files is geographical, that is, properties listed by location (e.g., street) in a logical progression. Districts identified during the survey and analysis processes could be organized in the same way. The advantage to this kind of organization is that location does not change, as a property owner might. Also, although properties may be cross-referenced by historical theme or type of significance, it would probably be more difficult to find properties listed under themes than under locations.

3. Protection of files. Consideration should be given to how the files will be protected against loss, fire, theft, mutilation, and physical deterioration. It may be advisable to provide an archival backup in case of damage to or loss of the original files. Microfilm is a relatively inexpensive backup, especially microfiche jackets for records that are frequently updated.


It is important for survey documentation to be filed in a location that is convenient to planning officials and interested individuals alike. Ideally, this will mean the local planning department, where extensive use of the information will be made, or some other official branch of local government equipped to handle public records (town or county archives, hall of records, etc.). The local historic preservation coordinator's or commission's office, as a center for preservation information and activities, is a logical repository. If there are no public facilities equipped to handle these files, a private historic preservation organization or local historical society might be able to provide temporary storage. Since data gathered through a publicly funded survey belongs and should be available to the entire community, a private entity would probably not be appropriate as a permanent repository.

With regard to repositories for archeological information, it is imperative that the locations of archeological resources be treated as confidential with access to the records limited to qualified researchers and planners. Many State Historic Preservation Officers and State archeologists have procedures for limiting access to this information.

Photographic Files

Photographic files should be able to accommodate three kinds of photographic material: prints, negatives, and slides. Photographic materials require special conditions for storage and handling. Because of their varying size, use, and conservation needs, they should be filed separately from paper records and from each other. They should be stored in a location having a moderately low relative humidity and cool temperature, safe from direct sunlight and air pollutants such as dust, smoke, and chemical fumes. Temperatures from 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of 40 to 45% should provide both proper storage and comfortable working conditions. Photographic materials should be stored vertically in baked enamel metal filing cabinets (wooden boxes or cabinets contain harmful resins and glues). If protective envelopes or sleeves are used, they should be made of inert materials such as polyester, triacetate, polypropolene, or polyethylene (cellophane and glassine envelopes should not be used). Files should be free of paper clips, rubber bands, glues, tape, papers or cardboard, or other materials that will in time damage the photographs. White cotton gloves should be used when handling photographic materials, and materials should always be handled along the edges so that the emulsion is never touched.

Photographic prints may be stored most easily if they are mounted on acid free or alkaline buffered cardboard of a standard size; the dimensions of the board should be greater than those of the photograph to allow for handling without touching the photograph. Prints receiving considerable use may also be placed in clear plastic envelopes, sleeves, or print files made of inert materials (polyester, triacetate, etc.). For long-term stability, photographs should be archivally processed on fiber-based photographic paper (resin-coated papers should not be used); if mounted, photographs should be held in place by paper hinges attached with wheat starch paste (dry mount tissue or adhesives such as rubber cement should not be used). The mounting board or envelope should be labeled with the name of the property, identification number, location, view (e.g. SW elevation), photographer's name, and date of the photograph. Photographs may be organized by geographical location or property name or number.

Historic photographs, exhibition prints, or photographs for which no negatives are available should receive special care. They should be filed separately from paper records or other kinds of photographic materials. If regular usage for publication or study is anticipated, reference prints should be made and the originals stored under archival conditions. Because they can be replaced, reference prints do not require the archival storage condition of original materials and may be filed with other materials, including survey forms, maps, and other documents.

Negatives should be stored in acid free or alkaline buffered envelopes made of inert material (polyester, triacetate, etc.) with the emulsion side away from any seams. Large format negatives (5-by-7, 4-by-5, etc.) should be placed in separate envelopes. Smaller negatives (35 mm), which come in roils, should be cut into strips 5 to 6 frames in length (do not cut into individual frames; this makes storage and printing difficult). Each strip should then be stored in a separate plastic sleeve or envelope made of inert material. Clear plastic negative files are available that provide pockets for 5 or 6 strips having 5 to 6 frames each, making it possible to store an entire roll on one sheet and to locate easily a specific frame. Negatives may be classified using a simple three-part numbering system which identifies the film format, number of roll, and frame number. For example, the number 35-110-12 identifies the 12th frame of the 110th roll of 35 mm film. Protected negatives may be stored by consecutive roll and frame numbers and cross referenced according to location, or may be filed directly by location.

Because negatives are generally original material and cannot be replaced, they should be stored separately from other materials under archival conditions. Contact prints may be made for filing with other survey records. A form attached to or filed with the contact print can easily reference the roll and frame numbers, and provide information for each negative such as property name, location, identification number, name, view, photographer, and date.

Slides should be stored separately from other materials in closed baked enamel metal compartment files. Because color materials are more susceptible to deterioration and damage due to heat, light, and humidity than other photographic materials, color slides should be stored at a lower temperature, between 50 to 60 degrees, if possible. Slides should always be handled along the cardboard mount, and placed in clear plastic sleeves made of inert material when being transported or used for study purposes. Information including property name, location, identification number, view, photographer, and date may be printed on the cardboard mount. Slides may be filed in various ways including geographical location, property name, or identification number.


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