Theme Studies

NHL Theme Studies

National Historic Landmarks are often identified through theme studies. Theme studies are an effective way of identifying and nominating properties because they provide a comparative analysis of properties associated with a specific area of American history, such as the fur trade, earliest Americans, women's history, Greek Revival architecture, Man in Space, or labor history. Theme studies provide a national historic context for specific topics in American history or prehistory. In order to make the case for national significance, a theme study must provide that necessary national historic context so that national significance may be judged for a number of related properties.

Some theme studies are mandated by Congress, while others are determined by the National Park Service. They are generally prepared under cooperative agreements or contracts with other governmental entities or private organizations. In the development of theme studies, partnerships with the academic community, independent scholars, and others knowledgeable about the subject at hand are encouraged. Academic and professional standards are followed in the preparation of theme studies which provide a context from which the most appropriate properties within that theme are identified. The historic contexts found in NHL theme studies also can be useful in preparing National Register of Historic Places nominations. They provide assistance in the evaluation of historic properties at all levels and can be used to educate the public about the nation's heritage.

Last updated: July 1, 2021