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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin Guidelines for Evaluating and Nominating Properties Associated with Significant Persons

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


Criterion "B" of the National Register Criteria for Evaluation states that properties may be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places if they "are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past." Persons significant in our past are those whose activities have been important to the communities in which they are located, to the history of their state, or to the nation as a whole. The National Register generally defines "the past" as that period earlier than fifty years ago, but more recent properties may qualify for listing if they possess exceptional significance.

Three steps are involved in determining whether or not a historic property meets Criterion B through association with an important person. Each of these steps must be addressed in the registration form in order to meet National Register documentation standards.

1. Determine the importance of individuals associated with the property being evaluated by gathering information on their lives and on the broader historical context within which they may have made a significant contribution.

2. Determine the length and nature of a significant individual's relationship to the property under study and to other historic resources; then decide why the property is an important representation of that person's accomplishments.

3. Assess the historic integrity of the resource; that is, determine if the property retains enough authentic historic character to convey its significant associations or qualities.

The following guidelines are intended to assist anyone preparing National Register documentation to follow the steps enumerated above. They fall roughly into three categories, with some overlap. Guidelines 1-5 deal primarily with evaluating the significance of a person under National Register criteria. Those numbered 6-9 emphasize the evaluation of a property's association with that individual. Numbers 10 and 11 are general standards that must be applied to all properties after assessing the significance of the person and the resource.

Examples follow the discussion of each guideline, representing types of arguments and documentation that the National Register finds acceptable or not acceptable to justify significance under Criterion B. These examples, excerpted from nominations submitted to the National Register, quote only the essence of each argument and important contextual information, not all of the information that may have been provided in the original nomination. Comments follow each example to clarify the way in which it illustrates the guideline under which it is cited.

The use of actual nominations has resulted in certain biases appearing in the examples. The vast majority of individuals discussed in the examples are male Caucasians, and most are businessmen or politicians. This reflects the fact that women, minorities, and historical themes other than commerce and politics/government have not been well-represented in nominations submitted to the National Register. There are also few properties associated with scoundrels, or others whose influence has been negative, but historically important nevertheless. We hope that reviewing this bulletin will encourage State and Federal Historic Preservation Officers to nominate properties that represent a wider variety of individuals and historical themes.

As of August 1988, there were 8366 properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places for significance under Criterion B. This number represents approximately 16 percent of the total number of listings in the National Register. Of the properties listed for associations with important persons, over half possess local significance. The homes of individuals comprise the vast majority of the properties listed under Criterion B, with the next four most common functional types being work places, agricultural resources, educational institutions, and religious facilities.

Most properties nominated for associations with significant persons also are nominated for other reasons, as indicated by the fact that almost two-thirds of the properties nominated under Criterion B are significant in the area of architecture as well as for the area in which the individual(s) achieved recognition. The other most common areas of significance for these properties are politics/government, commerce, social history, exploration/ settlement, and industry. *

{*Additional technical discussion on developing historic contexts, applying National Register criteria, and other issues may be found in National Register bulletins How to Apply National Register Criteria for Evaluation, and Guidelines for Completing National Register of Historic Places Forms, or by contacting the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, 1849 C St., NW, #2280, Washington, DC 20240.}

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