Evaluation Standards

Evaluation is the process of determining whether identified properties meet defined criteria of significance and therefore should be included in an inventory of historic properties determined to meet the criteria. The criteria employed vary depending on the inventory's use in resource management.

Standard I. Evaluation of the Significance of Historic Properties Uses Established Criteria

The evaluation of historic properties employs criteria to determine which properties are significant. Criteria should therefore focus on historical, architectural, archeological, engineering and cultural values, rather than on treatments. A statement of the minimum information necessary to evaluate properties against the criteria should be provided to direct information gathering activities.

Because the National Register of Historic Places is a major focus of preservation activities on the Federal, State and local levels, the National Register criteria have been widely adopted not only as required for Federal purposes, but for State and local inventories as well. The National Historic Landmark criteria and other criteria used for inclusion of properties in State historic site files are other examples of criteria with different management purposes.

Standard II. Evaluation of Significance Applies the Criteria Within Historic Contexts

Properties are evaluated using a historic context that identifies the significant patterns that properties represent and defines expected property types against which individual properties may be compared. Within this comparative framework, the criteria for evaluation take on particular meaning with regard to individual properties.

Standard III. Evaluation Results in a List or Inventory of Significance Properties that is Consulted in Assigning Registration and Treatment Priorities

The evaluation process and the subsequent development of an inventory of significant properties is an on-going activity. Evaluation of the significance of a property should be completed before registration is considered and before preservation treatments are selected. The inventory entries should contain sufficient information for subsequent activities such as registration or treatment of properties, including an evaluation statement that makes clear the significance of the property within one or more historic contexts.

Standard IV. Evaluation Results are Made Available to the Public

Evaluation is the basis of registration and treatment decisions. Information about evaluation decisions should be organized and available for use by the general public and by those who take part in decisions about registration and treatment. Use of appropriate computer-assisted data bases should be a part of the information dissemination effort. Sensitive information, however, must be safeguarded from general public distribution.

Part of a series of articles titled Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation.

Last updated: February 1, 2021