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HABS Guide to Field Documentation

This Field Guide offers step-by-step instructions about how to observe, take field measurements, and create field notes and a short-form report about a historic site or structure to HABS standards. These guidelines are intended for use by those without professional experience and/or training in the production of drawings and the undertaking of field work. They address floor plans, elevations, and details to help develop basic note taking and delineation skills. Once these skills are mastered, recorders can refer to the HABS Guidelines for Measured Drawings to learn about site plans, sections, axonometric, and other more complex types of drawings. The Secondary House at Best Farm was selected as the case study because its relative simplicity encourages the development of basic skills and the establishment of realistic goals, while still offering thought-provoking interpretation. This guide is supplemented with a “Field Observations” (Appendix B) and “Short-format Report” (Appendix A) sections, as applied to the Secondary House, to assist the recorder with learning to “read” a building and to report on their findings. The Field Observations are applicable to both the preparation of informed drawings and to the analysis put forth in the accompanying historical report. The field analysis should be combined with preliminary research into primary and secondary sources for a concise report of a few pages in length. As with the drawings component, further investigations of the historical and architectural context of a site or structure can be expanded to produce a full outline report according to HABS Guidelines for Historical Reports.