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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin: Guidelines for Local Survey: A Basis for Preservation Planning

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


Many professionals in the National Park Service made valuable contributions to the preparation of the original, 1977 issue of this publication. William G. Reeves, the late Carolyn Hamm, and Steven R. Ruttenbaum of the National Register and Thomas F. King of Interagency Archeological Services prepared drafts for certain sections of this publication, while Katherine H. Cole, Charles Herrington, and the late Wilford Cole provided helpful comments on the entire manuscript. Editorial assistance was provided by Sarah A. Fackelman. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and many private consultants with considerable survey experience made a number of useful suggestions during the early stages of this project.

The 1977 issue was thoroughly revised and updated in 1985 by Patricia L. Parker. The National Alliance of Preservation Commissions, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and staff of the Interagency Resources Division of the National Park Service provided helpful comments on the revised manuscript. Linda McClelland of the National Register provided editorial assistance in preparing the revised manuscript for publication.

We are grateful for the assistance of these people in the preparation of Guidelines for Local Surveys.

Anne Derry
H. Ward Jandl
Carol D. Shull, Keeper of the National Register
Jan Thorman


Over the last 80 years, Congress and the President have given the Department of the Interior major responsibilities in identifying, registering, and protecting the Nation's historic resources. With the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Secretary of the Interior was called upon to expand and maintain a national register of historic places and to give maximum encouragement to State governments to develop statewide historic preservation programs of their own. The Act recognized that one of the prerequisites for an effective national preservation program was the identification of historic resources across the country through comprehensive statewide surveys. Through a grants-in-aid program established by the Act, limited funding was made available for survey work at both the State and local levels.

During the 1970s, stimulated by implementation of the National Historic Preservation Act and growing interest in their own historic resources, local governments across the Nation developed and expanded their historic preservation the National Historic Preservation Act was amended in 1980, Congress recognized this growing interest by mandating increased assistance to local governments whose preservation programs are certified by the State Historic Preservation Officer and the Secretary of the Interior as meeting high professional standards.

Historic resource surveys and their resulting inventories form an important basis for planning decisions that affect the quality of our community life. In order to plan for the preservation and enhancement of the historic environment, it is necessary to determine what properties make up that environment. It is thus no surprise that the effectiveness of the National Register of Historic Places as a planning tool depends upon the quality and comprehensiveness of survey activity.

Basic standards and guidelines for historic preservation surveys have been published by the Department of the Interior as part of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation. To provide further assistance to communities and local governments in the conduct of high quality surveys, the National Register has prepared Guidelines for Local Surveys: A Basis for Preservation Planning. This bulletin is intended to provide a wide range of information on identifying, registering, and protecting historic resources.

The original version of Guidelines for Local Surveys was published in 1977, and quickly became one of the National Park Service's most popular historic preservation publications. By 1984 the original version was out of print, and badly outdated as the result of changes in laws (notably the 1980 National Historic Preservation Act amendments), policies, regulations, the organization of the national historic preservation program, and the sophistication of many State and local preservation programs. Accordingly, the National Park Service undertook a comprehensive rewrite of the publication in 1985, to produce the present volume.

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