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NPS Expansion: 1930s







New Deal



NPS 1933-39




Expansion of the National Park Service in the 1930s:
Administrative History

Chapter Five: New Initiatives in the Fields of History, Historic Preservation and Historical Park Development and Interpretation
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L. Appointment and Early Activities of the Advisory Board

In early February 1936 Secretary Ickes announced the appointment of eleven members to the Advisory Board as provided for in the Historic Sites Act. The eleven members were noted historians, archeologists, and preservationists representing all geographical areas of the nation. The list of members included:

Edmund H. Abrahams, Savannah, Georgia (head of Joint Committee of Memorials of the City of Savannah, Secretary of the Sons of the Revolution, and head of the Savannah Commission for the Preservation of Landmarks).

Dr. Herbert E. Bolton, Berkeley, California (chairman of the Department of History and Director of Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley).

Dr. Hermon C. Bumpus, Duxbury, Massachusetts (chairman of the Committee on Museums in the National Park Service and a member of the American Association of Museums).

Mrs. Reau Folk, Nashville, Tennessee (Regent of the Ladies Hermitage Association).

George DeBenneville Keim, Edgewater Park, New Jersey (Governor-General of the Society of Colonial Wars, and chairman of the State Commission on Historical Sites in New Jersey).

Dr. Alfred V. Kidder, Andover, Massachusetts (chairman of Division on Historical Research of the Carnegie Institution of Washington).

Dr. Fiske Kimball, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Director of the Pennsylvania Museum of Art).

Dr. Waldo G. Leland, Washington, D.C. (General Secretary of the American Council of Learned Societies).

Archibald M. McCrea, Williamsburg, Virginia (Restorator of Carter's Grove).

Dr. Frank R. Oastler, New York City (member of former Educational Advisory Board).

Dr. Clark Wissler, New York City (Curator of Ethnology at the American Museum of National History and Professor of Anthropology in the Institute of Human Relations at Yale University). [76]

The Advisory Board held its first annual meeting in Washington, D.C. , on February 13-14, 1936. On the agenda were topics ranging from the ways and means of procuring funds for the preservation of historic sites to the drafting of a model law suited to the needs of state legislatures in recommending the preservation of local shrines and landmarks. [77] The meeting was addressed by Ickes, Cammerer, and Chatelain, who outlined to the newly-appointed board important phases of the historical work of the Park Service and suggested plans for comprehensive action under the scope of the new legislation. [78]

At its second meeting on May 7-9, 1936, the Advisory Board adopted a number of resolutions concerning historic preservation. The principal one to be approved concerned a general statement of principles relating to the selection of historical and archeological sites that Chatelain had submitted to them. The approved statement read:

The general criterion in selecting areas administered by the Department of the Interior through the National Park Service whether natural or historic, is that they shall be outstanding examples in their respective classes.

The number of Federal areas must be necessarily limited, and care should be exercised to prevent the accumulation of sites of lesser rank. In the historical and archeological fields, national areas, it is believed, should be carefully chosen upon the basis of important phases of American history. The areas thus selected will collectively present an adequate story of American progress from the earliest beginnings of human existence down to comparatively recent times.

It is desirable in ascertaining the standards for selecting historic sites, to outline briefly the stages of American progress and then indicate lists of the possible sites illustrative of each stage. In the study of these lists it is expected that attention will be centered upon particular sites which, because of their deep historic value, as well as because of the fact that they possess important historic remains and are generally available, may be said to be the best examples in their respective classes.

It is these outstanding sites which should be saved, developed and interpreted by the Federal Government. In so doing, the National Park Service is following a line of precedents already clearly outlined in the selection of areas of all kinds, whether natural or historic.

With respect to historic and archeologic sites other than those selected for attention by the Federal Government, the function of the National Park Service should be to encourage state, local, semi-public and private agencies to engage in protective and interpretative activities. This work should always be closely associated with the program of National Historic sites administered by the Federal Government. [79]

Chapter Five continues with...
Historic Sites Survey: 1935-1941


Last Modified: Tues, Mar 14 2000 07:08:48 am PDT

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