Understanding the Secretary's Standards

What are the Secretary's Standards?

You may have noticed that your grant agreement contains the requirement that all work comply with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Archeology and Historic Preservation. But what does this mean? Where are these "standards"? Confusingly, there is no one set of standards; instead, there are different standards depending on the type of work undertaken. Although cultural resources professionals will often use the phrase "Secretary's Standards" as a kind of shorthand, it is very important to be clear in which set of standards apply to proposed or actual project work. Although some of the practices and procedures may predate the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, what we today call the Standards for Archeology and Historic Preservation stem from this act whose requirements help to refine and give purpose to broad, national preservation policies.

Commonly Referenced Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties

Within the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Archeology and Historic Preservation, there are specific standards for the treatment of historic properties. These treatment standards define approaches to the maintenance, repair, and replacement of historic material. The specific Standards for the Treatment of Historic Property are: Each of the four treatment standards also has accompanying guidance that provides illustrated examples of best practices. This guidance has been complied into the Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Selecting the best treatment standard depends on the nature of the cultural resource and the proposed intervention. This means that you will use the applicable standard for the type of resource and what work you are proposing to do. The Technical Preservation Services division of the National Park Service has prepared a thorough overview of the four approaches to the treatment of historic properties (including cultural landscapes) with a discussion of choosing the appropriate approach.

Secretary of the Interior's Standards

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    Last updated: September 29, 2021