Heritage and History Initiatives

Heritage and History Initiatives within the National Historic Landmarks Program


Since 2011, four new initiatives — the American Latino Heritage Initiative, the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Initiative, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Heritage Initiative, and the Women’s History Initiative — have been developed with the goal of furthering the representation of diverse stories within the National Historic Landmarks Program and elsewhere within the National Park Service. The initiatives are intended to extend the reach of documentation, listing, and designation of historic places to better reflect the full spectrum of people, events, and experiences that have contributed to building the nation.

For more information about the NHL Program's work on heritage initiatives, please consult our NHL Heritage Initiatives Progress Report, 2011-2013, the National Park Service's Telling All Americans' Stories website, and continue reading below.

panel of Epic of American Civilization mural of Hispano-America
Three scenes from the Epic of American Civilization murals
by Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco:
"Anglo-America," "Hispano-America," and "Gods of the Modern World."

NPS Photo

American Latino Heritage Initiative


The American Latino Heritage Initiative led the way as the first of the heritage initiatives. In 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar tasked the National Historic Landmarks Program with increasing the number of NHLs that represent the long and textured history of Latinos in the United States.

Since the launch of the initiative, eleven new Latino history sites have been designated as NHLs. These properties tell stories ranging from the experience of Latino American settlers on the western frontier, to the ways in which scholarly understanding of Latino contributions to American culture and history have shifted over time, to one of the premier colonial cities in the United States and the nation’s most important and complete Spanish urban center.

These new NHLs expand upon the American Latino story represented by NHLs such as Freedom Tower in Miami, Florida, and The Forty Acres in Delano, California (both designated in 2008).

Please visit the National Park Service's American Latino Heritage Initiative website for more information.

  • Drakes Bay Historic and Archeological District, Marin County, CA (2012)
  • Admiral David Glasgow Farragut Gravesite, New York, NY (2012)
  • Hispanic Society of America Complex, New York, NY (2012)
  • Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, Kern County, CA (2012)
  • San José de los Jémez Mission and Gíusewa Pueblo Site, Sandoval County, NM (2012)
  • Trujillo Homesteads, Alamosa County, CO (2012)
  • U.S. Post Office and Court House (Court House for the Central District of California), Los Angeles, CA (2012)
  • Casa Dra. Concha Meléndez Ramírez, San Juan, PR (2013)
  • Epic of American Civilization Murals, Baker Library, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH (2013)
  • Old San Juan Historic District/Distrito Histórico del Viejo San Juan, San Juan, PR (2013)
  • The Detroit Industry Murals, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI (2014)
north and west elevations of McGregor Memorial Conference Center looking southwest
McGregor Memorial Conference Center, MI

NPS Photo / Ruth E. Mills

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Initiative


In 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar began the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Initiative to identify and document important sites associated with the contributions made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout our history. Scholars, preservationists, and National Historic Landmarks Program staff met twice in 2013 to develop a structure for a theme study on Asian American and Pacific Islander history. On May 22, 2018, the program celebrated the release of the theme study with a keynote address by the study's editor, a workshop, and panel discussion.

Even before the initiation of this initiative and its theme study, the National Historic Landmarks Program had begun to locate, research, and document sites associated with the history of Asian Americans. These efforts included developing Civil Rights in America: A Framework for Identifying Significant Sites (revised 2008) and the Japanese Americans in World War II Theme Study (completed 2012), as well as the designation of NHLs such as the Little Tokyo Historic District in Los Angeles, California (designated 1995) and the Kam Wah Chung Company Building in John Day, Oregon (designated 2005).

Please visit the National Park Service's Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Initiative website for more information.

  • Poston Elementary School, Unit I, Colorado River Relocation Center, La Paz County, AZ (Japanese Americans in World War II Theme Study) (2012)
  • George Nakashima Woodworker Complex, Bucks County, PA (2014)
  • McGregor Memorial Conference Center, Detroit, MI (2015)
front view of Henry Gerber House from the street
The Henry Gerber House in Chicago, IL,  designated an NHL in 2015.

NPS Photo / Shirley and Norman Baugher

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Heritage Initiative


In 2010, the National Historic Landmarks Program began the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Heritage Initiative by conducting a state-by-state survey of extant sites associated with LGBTQ history. By 2013, the NHL Program began work on a framework to assist preservationists and scholars within the National Park Service, and externally, to identify, document, and nominate sites associated with the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans. This initiative was considerably enlarged by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in 2014. A scholars panel was convened to discuss how the project should best proceed and which themes and groups should be highlighted for further study. As of 2015, work proceeds on the identification of possible authors for the essays in the theme study.

Designation of these sites will further enhance Americans’ understanding of LGBTQ history and the ways in which it enhances our understanding of a broad range of topics such as civil rights, the American family, and American communities. New NHLs related to LGBTQ history will join Stonewall in New York City (designated 2000).

Please visit the National Park Service's LGBTQ Heritage Initiative website for more information.

  • Henry Gerber House, Chicago, IL (2015)
northern door of Marjory Stoneman Douglas House
Marjory Stoneman Douglas House, Miami, FL, designated an NHL in 2015.

NPS Photo / James Gabbert

Women’s History Initiative

The Women's History Initiative was launched in 2011. Since its inception, seven properties that reflect and tell important stories about women's history in America or about the construction of gender roles in American culture have received NHL designation. Some of the women's history sites have been and continue to be identified via a partnership with the National Collaborative for Women's History Sites.

The National Park Service is also using this initiative as an opportunity to improve upon the interpretation of women's history within national parks.

New NHLs related to women's history join NHLs such as the Rachel Carson House in Silver Spring, Maryland (designated 1991) and the Sage Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Ganado, Arizona (designated 2009).

Please read the NHL Women's History Initiative Progress Report, 2011-2013 and visit the National Park Service's Women's History Initiative website for more information.

  • Dr. Bob's Home (Dr. Robert and Anne Smith House), Akron, OH (2012)
  • Stepping Stones (Bill and Lois Wilson House), Katonah, NY (2012)
  • Casa Dra. Concha Meléndez Ramírez, San Juan, PR (2013)
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe House, Hartford, CT (2013)
  • Perkins Homestead, Newcastle, ME (2014)
  • Lydia Pinkham House, Lynn, MA (2014)
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas House, Miami, FL (2015)

Last updated: August 31, 2018