National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

National Register of Historic Places Program:Policy Clarification

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


This page is for National Register policy clarifications, handouts, white papers, and supplemental materials. More guidance (publications, forms, sample nominations, webinars) is available in our guidance section

Workshops / Initiatives / Policy Clarifications-White Papers / White paper drafts / Special Publications / Previous Materials / Webinars



Landscape Initiative:
The National Park Service has initiated a study of the nomination of landscapes to the National Register of Historic Places.  The effort is called the “National Register Landscape Initiative” (NRLI). It involves a number of stakeholders in the National Register program, especially those with an interest or expertise in landscape issues. For a number of months they will be meeting by webinar to identify and discuss the issues that hinder or foster landscape nominations.


National Register Policy Clarifications / White Papers

From time to time, the Keeper of the National Register needs to issue a response to a policy question that has been raised about application of the criteria and other program requirements. When the Keeper issues such clarifications, they constitute an adjustment to or affirmation of the policy that applies. The Keeper's policy clarifications will be posted on the web site and may be incorporated into future publications.

Additional Guidance Addendum to the National Register Bulletin, How to Complete the National Register Registration Form (2/1/2018)

Guidance on How to Submit a Nomination to the National Register of Historic Places on Disk (pdf)
The National Register of Historic Places has accepted new technologies over the past few years including digital photographs and alternatives to the paper USGS maps. We are now accepting the nomination form in pdf format. Please read this guidance on how to submit a nomination on disk before sending. And let us know if you have any comments.

GIS Map Guidance (pdf)

Webinar on GIS Map guidance

Photograph updated (5/15/2013)

Integrity Requirements for Settings and Locations of Locomotives and Other Rolling Stock

National Register Eligibility of National Cemeteries – A Clarification of Policy

White Papers in draft format - open for comments

Listing TCPs on the National Register e-mail forum

 The National Register "White Paper" Series

For many years, National Register bulletins have guided the preparation of National Register nominations. They have been a reliable resource, but as the program has matured, new issues have become apparent and some existing policies and practices need updating or clarification. In 2008, NPS staff launched an initiative to update and revise the bulletin series. As it contemplates revisions, NPS staff is beginning to address issues that have never been adequately discussed or that are often confusing. These issues are being explored in a series that will be known as the "National Register White Papers." Each white paper will be posted on the National Register website. After consideration of comments by State Historic Preservation Officers, Tribal Preservation Officers, and Federal Preservation Officers, some of the information in the white papers will be integrated into the revised on-line or print publications.

We encourage our preservation colleagues to review and comment on the white papers. Ultimately, the National Register wants to provide all preparers and reviewers with consistent guidance on preparing National Register nominations. The white papers are a step toward that goal. Consider them an opportunity to comment on the substance of the National Register program and contribute to its clarification.

Send comments via email to the author of the paper and he or she will discuss them with National Register colleagues and, in some cases, revise the white paper accordingly. The author is identified, with an e-mail address provided. The date on the paper indicates when it was last revised.


NR White Paper: The Components of a Historic Context

NR White Paper: Evaluating Common Resources for NR Eligibility

NR White Paper: Evaluating the Significance of Additions and Accretions

Special Publications

SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR’S REPORT To The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation In Accordance with Section 213 of the National Historic Preservation Act: Evaluation of the Proposed Mitigation Plans for the K-25 building on the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation, Tennessee

Previous Materials

• Draft of Public Housing Context - questions can be directed to Paul Lusignan

Nantucket Sound Found Eligible for Listing in the National Register Decision(Cape Wind) and Cape Wind Comments of effects on NHLs October 22, 2009

Turner Falls DOE Decision

Dune Shacks DOE/TCP Decision

National Historic Property Inventory Initiative - - Final Report Released
Building Capacity to Preserve and Protect Our Cultural Heritage
The goal of the report is to create a comprehensive inventory of historic properties through a multi-year plan that expands current inventories and makes them more compatible and

National Register Review Checklists: items we look for when we review each nomination.
Technical Review Checklist / Substantive Checklist

Existing Technical and Regulatory Requirements Reminders

Manual for State Historic Preservation Review Boards (only available online)

"'Of Exceptional Importance': The Origins of the 'Fifty-Year Rule' in Historic Preservation." The Public Historian,Volume 29, no.2. © Spring 20074

Criteria Consideration A: Origins of the National Register Criteria Consideration for Religious Properties - article in Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture
Forum, Volume 16, Number 2, Fall 2009, pp. 1-15 by John Sprinkle (external link)