Identification Standards

Identification activities are undertaken to gather information about historic properties in an area. The scope of these activities will depend on: existing knowledge about properties; goals for survey activities developed in the planning process; and current management needs.

Standard I. Identification of Historic Properties is Undertaken to the Degree Required to Make Decisions

Archival research and survey activities should be designed to gather the information necessary to achieve defined preservation goals. The objectives, chosen methods and techniques, and expected results of the identification activities are specified in a research design. These activities may include archival research and other techniques to develop historic contexts, sampling an area to gain a broad understanding of the kinds of properties it contains, or examining every property in an area as a basis for property specific decisions. Where possible, use of quantitative methods is important because it can produce an estimate, whose reliability may be assessed, of the kinds of historic properties that may be present in the studied area. Identification activities should use a search procedure consistent with the management needs for information and the character of the area to be investigated. Careful selection of methods, techniques and level of detail is necessary so that the gathered information will provide a sound basis for making decisions.

Standard II. Results of Identification Activities are Integrated into the Preservation Planning Process

Results of identification activities are reviewed for their effects on previous planning data. Archival research or field survey may refine the understanding of one or more historic contexts and may alter the need for additional survey or study of particular property types. Incorporation of the results of these activities into the planning process is necessary to ensure that the planning process is always based on the best available information.

Standards III. Identification Activities Include Explicit Procedures for Record-Keeping and Information Distribution

Information gathered in identification activities is useful in other preservation planning activities only when it is systematically gathered and recorded, and made available to those responsible for preservation planning. The results of identification activities should be reported in a format that summarizes the design and methods of the survey, provides a basis for others to review the results, and states where information on identified properties is maintained. However, sensitive information, like the location of fragile resources, 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: May 13, 2020