National Historic Preservation Act of 1966

The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, which has been amended several times, was passed to acknowledge the importance of protecting our nation's heritage from federal development. The NHPA sets federal historic preservation policy, establishes partnerships between the Federal government and states and the Federal government and tribes, creates the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks programs, mandates the selection of qualified State Historic Preservation Officers, establishes the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, charges Federal agencies with stewardship, and establishes the role of Certified Local Governments within the states.

Title I of the statute established the National Register of Historic Places to create a national listing of historic properties (districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects) significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. Title I also expanded the level of Federal concern to include the preservation of historic properties of local or State significance. It established State Historic Preservation Officers as partners in the national historic preservation program and also describes how local governments or Indian tribes may, in certain circumstances, carry out SHPO functions.

Implementation of Section 106 of Title I has been critical to archeology and archeological preservation in the United States. Section 106 requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their actions on historic properties by identifying historic properties, assessing adverse effects, and resolving those adverse effects. The process is initiated by the federal agency, and includes comment and input from stakeholders at the local and State levels, as well as the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. After the procedures for implementing Section 106 were established (6 CFR 800), the field of professional archeology expanded throughout governments and the private sector to meet the need for compliance.

Section 110 requires all federal agencies to establish -- in conjunction with the Secretary of the Interior -- their own historic preservation programs for the identification, evaluation, and protection of historic properties, including archeological properties. Determinations of Eligibility for the National Register are established during Phase II archeological surveys.

Title II
Title II of NHPA establishes the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent Federal agency. The Council and its staff advise Federal agencies on their roles in the national historic preservation program, especially Section 106. The ACHP also develops advice and training to support Federal agencies.

Title IV
Title IV of the statute established the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, part of the National Park Service. NCPTT contributes research and training to archeological preservation practice.

Statute and regulation texts:

Suggested reading:

Glass, James A. "The Beginnings of a New National Historic Preservation Program, 1957 to 1969." American Association for State and Local History, Nashville, Tennessee. 2003.

McManamon, Francis P. "National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)," In Archaeological Method and Theory: An Encyclopedia, edited by Linda Ellis, Garland Publishing Co. New York and London. 2000.

Last updated: November 9, 2021