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back to index Permitting Archeology—An Overview of the National Archeological Database, Permits Module


NADB-Permits is a valuable resource that provides access to information about significant archeological and paleontological projects carried out during the history of U.S. federal archeology. The records in the database are for permits issued by the Department of the Interior under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Archaeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA) of 1979. A few records are for permits issued after the granting authority was delegated to individual federal agencies in 1984. The data in NADB-Permits was collected from permit record files presently located in the office of the Department of the Interior Departmental Consulting Archeologist and the Archeology Program, National Park Service (DCA/AAE), the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) of the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The database was created by the DCA/AAE. Steps are underway to transfer the files at DCA/AAE to the National Archives so they can be better cared for and made more widely accessible.

Each NADB-Permits record contains five groups of information. The primary information covers the issuing agency, type of project, the Act under which the permit was issued, the land managing agency involved, and the principal investigator. The second group, descriptive information about the archeological activity conducted, includes worktype, site name and identification number, and archeological or cultural affiliation. Locational information in the third group provides geographic location by state(s) and county(s). The fourth group includes information on collections and repositories and identifies the type of investigation (submerged/terrestrial/both and prehistoric/historic/both), possible NAGPRA association, and the institution(s) designated to hold the artifact collections, records, and reports. The fifth group includes documentation information for tracking the permit process and includes permit filing history, the institution that holds the permit file, and what curation agreements, contracts, maps, or other documents were found in the permit file.

The DCA/AAE will launch the NADB-Permits database online in 2004. At that time, it may be searched to learn about the history and details of an individual permit. A user also will be able to explore general trends in permitted archeological activities over time, including types of investigations, federal agencies involved, principal investigators involved, activity by state, and key repositories designated over time. For example, a user will be able to learn the history of certain permittees, such as where, when, and for whom they did their work on federal lands. As well, the effects of new legislation on federal archeological activity, such as the enactment of ARPA and the issuance of the Act’s governing regulations 43 CFR 7, are evident in NADB-Permits. Notably, the amount of archeological activity increased significantly after the enactment of ARPA in 1979. Finally, given the impact of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) on archeological work, the database may help identify investigations that might have yielded collections subject to the Act.

Information about 3,208 archeological permits are present in the database. It should be noted here that NADB-Permits does not include all permits issued between 1906-84. AAE staff members know that additional permit files exist at NARA and NAA, but were not included in NADB-Permits due to lack of resources to continue the hunt and for data entry. AAE hopes to add additional permit records in the future, including those issued after 1984, as they become accessible. Readers who know of additional permits or repositories holding them are encouraged to contact DCA/AAE with this information.

The following pages summarize key information that will be searchable in NADB-Permits. This includes the legislative history, descriptive information about the permits issued, the permittees, the repositories named in the permit records, and information about the resulting collections.




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