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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin Guidelines for Evaluating and Nominating Properties that Have Achieved Significance Within the Past Fifty Years

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


Interior of Graceland
Interior, Graceland, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee. Graceland, listed on the National Register in 1991, is exceptionally significant because of its association with Elvis Presley, who revolutionized popular entertainment in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. (Jennifer Tucker, Tennessee Historical Commission, 1991)

When it was established in 1966, the National Register of Historic Places provided official recognition for the nation's heritage and encouraged public participation in the protection of historic places. The framers of the 1966 Act envisioned the National Register as a broad list of historic properties that reflected "the spirit and direction of the Nation." In order to assure historical perspective and avoid judgments based on current or recent popular trends, the 50-year period was established as a guide for evaluating the historic resources worthy of preservation. However, the National Register Criteria for Evaluation provided for the recognition of historic places that achieved significance within the past 50 years; a property of that vintage may be eligible if it is of exceptional importance at the national, State, or local level.

Over the past three decades, Criteria Consideration G has proved a reasonable test for the historic significance of properties achieving significance within the past 50 years. As of the end of 1994, 2,035 properties (out of approximately 64,000 total listings) had been listed in the National Register under Criteria Consideration G. Of these, 464 listed properties reflect some aspect of the nation's history since 1950, and 77 of these places exclusively reflect some aspect of our history since 1974. Many of these properties are recognized for their extraordinary role in our nation's history; however, approximately one-third are listed for their exceptional importance in community history. Since it was first published in 1979, this bulletin has guided the evaluation of properties from the Depression era and the World War II period. This edition moves on to the next major period of time: the post-World II era. Depending on the historical event or pattern of events, significant persons, or architectural movements, the post-World War II period can stretch through the mid-1960s (Civil Rights Movement); the mid-1970s (end of the Vietnam war); the early 1980s (end of the Modern Movement in architecture); the late 1980s (end of the Cold War); or some other logical end date.

This bulletin's fourth update is issued at a time when several other organizations—such as the Association for Preservation Technology, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Society for Commercial Archeology—have expressed increased interest in the recent past through special publications on the subject. The 1995 conference, "Preserving the Recent Past," held in Chicago, Illinois, is another important indicator of popular and professional commitment to preserving significant historic properties of the recent past. Directed by the late H. Ward Jandl, the conference served as an important forum for discussing a wide range of issues associated with historic properties of the 20th century. The properties that have been listed under Criteria Consideration G illustrate public recognition of these places as truly historic. We thank these individuals and organizations and the publication's original authors for their continued interest in the subject.

Carol D. Shull
Keeper, National Register of Historic Places
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior


The mission of the Department of the Interior is to protect and provide access to our Nation's natural and cultural heritage and honor our trust responsibilities to tribes.

This material is partially based upon work conducted under a cooperative agreement with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers and the U.S. Department of the Interior.


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