Teaching > RWU Preservation Research Fall 2002 >

National Register Nomination — Assessment

This assignment will help you: (1) understand the process of obtaining a copy of an existing National Register nomination form for a property and (2) assessing the criteria employed to develop the nomination, with reference to NPS standards and research resources.

The National Register (NR) is the official federal listing of historic, architectural, and archeological resources worthy of preservation. The National Park Service, Department of the Interior, provides matching funds to each state to conduct a comprehensive survey of its cultural resources and nominate significant buildings, structures, sites, objects, and historic districts to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register program in each state is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).


1. Find a structure that is listed on the National Register as an individual structure — and that has also been surveyed by the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) or Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). While this assignment focuses on the National Register nomination, documentation provided by HABS will help to assess the NR nomination. NR and HABS databases are located at:

National Register Information System (NRIS)
Instructions are found at:
This database is maintained by the National Register of Historic Places Program, National Park Service
(This URL will change in the near future. PCM 11/02)

Some states have their own NR databases, with added information. For Example:
Minnesota Historical Society

Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) collections in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Download the survey (drawings, photographs, photograph ID sheets, data sheets) from the Internet.
This database is maintained by HABS/HAER Division, National Park Service

2. To obtain a copy of the NR form, contact the State Historic Preservation Office (if you are calling in-state) or the National Park Service (if from another state).

National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, which provides a list of all SHPOs

National Register of Historic Places Program, National Park Service
Email nr_reference@nps.gov
If requesting information, please include your mailing address, and for nominations, please include the property name, county, and state.

3. Once the NR nomination form is received, review it. Reference the HABS or HAER documentation, too.

4. Read the following National Register Bulletins:


5. If possible, visit the property for an on-site evaluation of the NR nomination (and HABS/HAER records). Take photographs as needed, to help in writing the assessment. Label all photographs using the same standards employed by the National Register.

6. Assess the National Register nomination, with reference to the National Park Service standards and methods, and guidelines of the National Register Bulletins cited above.

Answer the following questions, which are based mainly on the publication How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation (#15), with added material from Researching a Historic Property (#39). Read all the questions before developing answers.

  1. Define National Register's meaning of the term "historic context." Include the five things that must be determined to determine whether a property is significant within its historic context.
  2. Identify the historical context(s) associated with the property?
  3. Is the historic context local, state, or national? How is this substantiated?
  4. Did the property have to be evaluated against other examples of the property type to determine its eligibility? If not, why not? If so, how was the evaluation accomplished?
  5. How does the context substantiate the structure's significance?
  6. What is the period of significance?
  7. Define the association between the historic context and the specific areas of significance?
  8. Based on the National Register list of Areas of Significance, what is/are the theme(s)?
  9. Which of the four values (criteria) defined by the National Register Criteria for Evaluation does the property embody, based on its/their relation to the context and significance?
  10. Did the property have to meet special requirements called Criteria Considerations, in addition to being eligible under one or more of the four criteria? If so, why did it have to meet Criteria Considerations. How were they met?
  11. Define integrity, according to the National Register.
  12. List the four steps needed to establish integrity, once significance is established.
  13. List the seven aspects of integrity. Identify the aspects that contribute to the property's integrity.
  14. In summary, list the primary and secondary source material used as research resources for the nomination. Describe, when possible, the information yielded from the resources and its application to the National Register nomination.
  15. Consider what documentary research is employed to establish and justify:
    1. context(s);
    2. geography of context;
    3. period of significance;
    4. comparison with other properties of the same type (when necessary);
    5. association;
    6. theme(s);
    7. criteria;
    8. criteria considerations (when necessary);
    9. integrity.

Consider employing a table, as illustrated in Bulletin Researching a Historic Property (#39) in the printed copy and in the table below. (Note: The electronic copy at http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/publications/bulletins/nrb39/nrb39_IV.htm does not employ tables at the Web site. )

Material Sources Potential (here, Actual) Information Yielded Possible (here, Actual) Application to National Registrer Nomination

Hand in the National Register nomination and the HABS/HAER recording (drawings, photographs, photograph ID sheets, data sheets) with your assessment.