Heritage Documentation Programs administers Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), the Federal government's oldest preservation program, and companion programs Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), and Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS). Documentation produced through the programs and housed in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress, constitutes the nation's largest archive of historic architectural, engineering, and landscape documentation. HABS, HAER, and HALS documentation, consisting of measured and interpretive drawings, large-format photographs, and historical reports, is developed by a combination of career National Park Service (NPS) staff, students and professionals through sponsor-funded projects, National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 mitigation, and donations to the collection. HABS, HAER and HALS work in cooperation with groups in both the public and private sectors to help underpin preservation efforts, including rehabilitation, community development, advocacy, and historical interpretation. The programs also develop guidelines, field test new technologies and techniques, and produce standard-setting documentation.
The programs are recognized for their
- Broad scope and focus on endangered structures for which no record would otherwise exist
- Public accessibility, by which HABS/HAER/HALS records are made available to the public copyright-free and on-line through the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress
- Establishment of national standards for recording historic architecture. Together with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Architectural and Engineering Documentation, HABS, HAER and HALS Guidelines establish a uniform criteria and methodology for the production of architectural, engineering and landscape documentation
Including documentation of important tribal architecture, engineering, and landscapes into the Library of Congress collection makes the drawings, photographs and histories of important sites available to the public, helping to raise awareness and promote preservation.
Native Americans are encouraged to work with HABS, HAER, and HALS to create documentation, participate in summer programs, donate drawings, or cooperate with professional staff in other ways to record important architectural, engineering, and landscape features of their communities.
Historic American Buildings Survey
NPS, the Library of Congress, and the American Institute of Architects established the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in 1934 to create a public archive of measured drawings, historical reports, and large-format black-and-white photographs of important and/or representative examples of our built environment. To date, HABS has documented over 28,000 structures.
The rich HABS archive of period-specific architectural details provides baseline documentation for rehabilitation and interpretation. The collection is a resource for architectural historians, restoration architects, preservationists, scholars, and those of all ages interested in American history and architecture.
HABS has worked with many Native Americans to document important resources ranging from individual buildings (which have won the Charles E. Peterson Prize given annually to students) to groups of buildings, to cemeteries and burial grounds. Examples of the documentation produced can be found at the Library of Congress.
For more information about the HABS program, or to access the HABS Guidelines for Drawings, History, or Photography, visit the website.
Historic American Engineering Record
NPS, the Library of Congress, and the American Society of Civil Engineers formed the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) in 1969 to create and preserve a permanent record of the nation’s rapidly disappearing historic engineering and industrial sites. In 1984, the agreement was ratified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers.
HAER documentation provides a comprehensive view of historic engineering and industrial sites and structures, and offers a unique perspective in that it often documents process, such as how machinery worked, bridge components fit together, or a plant functioned to produce a good or service. To date, HAER has recorded over 7,500 engineering and industrial sites.
For Native Americans, HAER documentation serves as an important method of recording important processes and engineering efforts. The program has worked with many Native Americans to document important resources ranging from irrigation systems to reservoirs to dams and bridges. Examples of the documentation produced can be found at the Library of Congress.
For more information about the HAER program, or to access the HAER Guidelines for Drawings, History, or Photographs, visit the website.
Historic American Landscapes Survey
The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) program is a relatively new partnership effort among the NPS, the Library of Congress, and the American Society of Landscape Architects, to preserve, protect and interpret America’s significant and threatened historic landscapes. HALS focus is to expand the range of stories that can be told about human relationships with the land by documenting larger landscapes that encompass many types of features and resources. The results not only document significant landscapes, but instill a greater understanding of the relationship between land and history for the participant and the related community.
HALS’ focus on landscapes, as opposed to isolated buildings or structures, allows Native Americans to document traditional cultural properties and critical components of their landscapes that help shape their world view. The documentation of these resources serves an important purpose for mitigation as well as education.
HALS has worked with Native Americans to document important resources ranging from fortifications to parks to university campuses and entire islands. Examples of the documentation produced can be found at the Library of Congress.
For more information about the HALS program, or to access the HALS Guidelines for Drawings, History, or Photographs, visit our website.
The HALS Challenge, a joint program of HALS and the American Society of Landscape Architects, permits landscape architect professionals and students to document specifically targeted designed and vernacular landscapes such as those associated with Cultural Diversity (2011), Latino Heritage (2012), and Women in the landscape (2013).
The HABS, HAER and HALS Collection is available through the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Madison Building, First Street & Independence Avenue, SE, Washington, DC; or via the internet.
The HABS, HAER and HALS programs can be followed on Facebook.
HABS: Catherine Lavoie at 202 354-2185 or email@example.com
HAER: Richard O'Connor at 202 354-2186 or richard_o’firstname.lastname@example.org
HALS: Paul Dolinsky at 202 354-2116 or email@example.com