[graphic] National Park Service Arrowhead and link to NPS  [graphic] National Park Service Arrowhead and link to NPS
[graphic] National Park Service Black Bar
[graphic] Link to National Register Publications Home Page
 [graphic] Link to National Register Home Page  [graphic] Link to National Register Research Home Page  [graphic] Link to National Register Travel Home Page  [graphic] Link to National Register Education Home Page  [graphic] National Park Service arrowhead and link to NPS.gov
 [graphic] National Register Bulletin Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Archeological Properties

U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service

[graphic] link to next page [graphic] link to table of contents [graphic] link to previous page


At a minimum, a USGS map showing the location of the property (and, if more than 10 acres, its boundaries) and black-and-white photographs documenting the appearance and condition of the property must be included with every National Register nomination. Additionally, because of the complex nature of archeological properties, a site map (sketch or to scale) is usually required. The National Register Bulletin How to Complete the National Register Registration Form outlines the requirements for maps and photographs. See also the National Register Bulletin How to Improve the Quality of Photos for National Register Nominations. Some basic information is presented below.


For most properties, the National Register requires a sketch map to document a district or a complex site. Site maps drawn to scale are preferable. All maps need to conform to the following requirements:

. Maps should be drawn, printed, or photocopied on archival paper. Maps should be folded to be no larger than 8 by 11 inches. When submitting a large map that is not on archival paper, fold the map and submit it in an archival folder no larger than 8 by 11 inches;
. Display the following 14 items on the map:

1. Boundaries of the property, including points of UTM readings, carefully delineated;

2. Names of major streets near the district and all named streets bordering the property;

3. Names of places, especially those mentioned in the text sections of the nomination;

4. Highway numbers;

5. A north arrow (magnetic or true);

6. Approximate scale for a sketch map and exact scale for a map drawn to scale;

7. Contributing sites, buildings, structures, and objects (These should correspond to the description or list of contributing resources in the narrative sections and to the totals of contributing resources.);

8. Noncontributing sites, buildings, structures, and objects (These should correspond to the description or list of noncontributing resources in the narrative sections and to the totals of noncontributing resources.);

9. Land uses and natural features covering substantial acreage or having historic significance, such as forests, fields, orchards, quarries, rivers, lakes, and harbors;

10. The general location and extent of disturbance, especially that described in the narrative sections;

11. The location of previous archeological excavations, especially those that were extensive enough to cause some disturbance to the archeological deposits;

12. The location of features and artifact loci described in the narrative section;

13. The distribution of sites in a district. If more practical, this information may also be shown on the USGS map;

14. For districts, the number of the accompanying photographs intended to show views of the property.

If the property is more than 10 acres, then a USGS map may be used in place of a sketch map as long as it can legibly show the required information. Maps drawn to a larger scale may be used to show the concentration of resources or types of representative sites. These maps should be keyed to a larger map covering the entire property. Archeological site numbers are usually sufficient for keying.


Clear black-and-white photographs need to be submitted with each nomination form. The photographs should accurately represent the property as described and its integrity. One photograph may be adequate to document a very small archeological site; more, however, are generally needed to adequately document the property. Documenting each property in an archeological district is unnecessary. Photographs of the properties most representative of the district, however, should be submitted. The photographs should be keyed to those representative properties described in the narratives. Prints of historic photographs, artifacts, features, etc. may supplement documentation. All, or a representative sample, of the contributing standing structures must be photographed.

photo of Sand Hill Archeological Site
Figure 23: Marking boundaries on low-level aerial photographs is an effective way of showing boundaries and the location of excavations. This photograph shows the Sand Hill Archeological Site in Jackson County, Indiana (see bottom left hand corner of photograph). (John W. Winship)

Guidelines include the following:

. The number of photographic views depends on the size and complexity of the property. Submit as many photographs as needed to depict the current condition and significant aspects of the property. Include representative views of both contributing and, if instructive, noncontributing resources. Photographs of representative artifacts and features may be included as well.

For archeological sites submit one or more photographs that depict:

. the condition of the site and above-ground or surface features;

. significant disturbances; and

. the site in relation to its environmental setting.

For archeological districts submit one or more photographs that show:

. the principal sites;

. the representative site types;

. the overall integrity of the district; and

. areas of significant disturbance.

The National Register requests recent photographs to document the present condition of the property. If photographs already exist and they accurately depict the condition of the property, then the older photographs may be used. A note to this effect, however, should be included in the nomination.

One copy of each photograph is submitted to the National Register. The SHPO, THPO or FPO may require additional sets of photographs. In addition, they may also require a set of slides. It is important to know this information prior to conducting field work or even budgeting a National Register nomination project.

Photographs must be:

. unmounted;

. of high quality;

. at least 3 by 5 inches, preferably 8 by 10 inches for the most important views;

. printed on double or medium weight black and white paper having a standard finish (matte, glossy, satin); and

. labeled in pencil or with a photographic marker.

The preferred way to label photographs is to print in pencil (soft lead pencils work best) on the back of the photograph. Photographs with adhesive labels will not be accepted. Include the following information:

1. Name of the property or, if a district, the name of the resources (e.g., site number), and then the name of the district;

2. County and state where the property is located;

3. Name of the photographer;

4. Date of the photograph;

5. Location of the original negative;

6. Description of the view indicating direction of the camera;

7. Photograph number. For districts use this number to identify the vantage point on the accompanying sketch map.

Alternatively, continuation sheets may be used instead of completely labeling each photograph. To do this, label the photographs by name of property, county, and state, and photograph number (Items 1, 2, and 7 above). For each photograph, list the remaining information (Items 3-6) and Items 1, 2, and 7 on a continuation sheet. Information common to all photographs, such as the photographer's name or the location of the negatives, may be listed once with a statement that it applies to all photographs.

If the photographic paper will not accept pencil marks, print Items 1, 2, and 7 using a permanent marking pen in the front border near the lower right corner of the photograph (do not mark on the image area) and use the continuation sheets alternative.

In submitting a photograph to the NPS with a National Register form, photographers grant permission to the NPS to use the photograph for publication and other purposes, including duplication, display, distribution, study, publicity, and audio-visual presentations. The photographer will be credited. Please indicate on the photograph label which photos fall under Section 304 of the National Historic Preservation Act (For guidance on Section 304, see, "When should information be restricted from public access?" in Section I of this bulletin)


photo of underwater shipwreck F.T. Barney
Figure 24: It is often difficult to get good photographs of underwater shipwrecks. The F.T. Barney is an exception. This photograph shows an interior view of a stern cabin. (Dale Purchase)



[graphic] link to next page [graphic] link to top of page [graphic] link to previous page

National Register Home | Publications Home | Previous Page | Next Page
Comments or Questions