African American Heritage Theme Study

What are National Historic Landmark 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.

Theme studies focusing on African American heritage:

Civil Rights in America: A Framework for Identifying Significant Sites (.pdf | 4.3MB): This theme study framework represents the first chapter in a larger study on the history of civil rights that helps the National Park Service evaluate proposals for new units in the park system. Additional theme studies include Racial Desegregation of Public Accommodations, Racial Desegregation in Public Education in the United States, and Racial Voting Rights.

Underground Railroad Resources in the United States:This study provides historic context for the development of nominations for the Underground Railroad theme.To help the researcher understand the various aspects of the Underground Railroad, this context is divided into sections that focus on a complex but related series of historical activities and geographic regions,referred to generally as the Underground Railroad.

African Reflections on the American Landscape: Identifying and Interpreting Africanisms: This study highlights West and Central African cultural contributions to the nation's built environment that have been documented and recognized in the cultural resources programs of the National Park Service. The built environment of America is infused with reflections of Africa. Geographical locations have West and Central African names; structures reflect an African building aesthetic, and the land has been reshaped to take advantage of African technological and cultural knowledge.

Last updated: March 29, 2018