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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin: How to Improve the Quality of Photographs for National Register Nominations

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

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IV. Preparing Photographs for Submission to the National Register

Basic Requirements

Basic requirements for photographs to be submitted to the National Register are given in III. Documenting Historic Places on Film. In addition, photographs submitted for National Register nominations must be:

. At least 3- x 5- inches, but 8- x 10-inches is preferred;
. Printed on single-weight paper with a glossy finish;
. Correctly processed and thoroughly washed according to manufacturers' instructions;
. Labeled either in pencil on the reverse, or on a continuation sheet (See below for detailed instructions);
. Unmounted (do not staple, clip, or glue photographs to nomination form);
. Taken with black and white film only;
. Complete enough to fully illustrate the property being nominated; and
. Well-composed, sharply focused, and clear.


The National Register of Historic Places will accept black and white photographs printed on resin-coated paper, however, it is preferred that prints be produced to archival standards using fiber-base paper. Prints submitted on resin-coated paper must have no evidence of residual chemicals, fading, or yellowing.

Labeling Photographs

Photographs should be labeled with the following information:

. Name of property or, for districts, the name of the building or street address, followed by the name of the district;
. County and State where the property is located;
. Names of photographer and/or assistant;
. Location of original negative;
. Date of photograph;
. Description of view, indicating direction of camera; and
. Photograph number. (For districts, use this number to identify vantage point on the accompanying sketch map.)

Use a No. 1 or No. 2 pencil to label photographs on fiber-base paper. Resin-coated paper will not accept pencil. Never use an ink pen on either fiber-base or resin-coated paper, because it can leak through the emulsion and damage the image. However, a permanent audiovisual marking pen or pencil may be used. Also, permanent, soft-tip pens can be used on the front margins, if applicable. In addition, do not use adhesive labels on photographs, and do not mount photographs on the nomination form itself.

An acceptable alternative for identifying photographs is on a National Register Continuation Sheet (NPS 10-900-a). Number each photograph and write the name of the property, county and State on the back with a soft pencil. List the rest of the required information on the continuation sheet. Information common to all photographs, such as the photographer's name, or the location of the negatives, can be given once accompanied by a statement that applies to all of the photographs.

Adhesive Labels

photo of Nashold 20-sided barn, Fountain Prairie, Wisconsin
Nashold 20-sided barn. Town of Fountain Prairie, Columbia County, Wisconsin. (Jeff Dean, 1987)

Photographs with adhesive labels will not be accepted, because the labels separate from the photograph and their acidity may cause the photograph to deteriorate.

Use of National Register Photographs

By allowing a photograph to be submitted to the National Park Service with a National Register form, photographers grant permission to the National Park Service to use the photograph for publication and other purposes, including: putting on the World Wide Web; duplication; display; distribution; study; publicity; and audiovisual presentations.

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