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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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Q. Classification and Objectives of Historical and Archeological Areas in National Park System: 1935-1941

During the same years, the Branch of Historic Sites and Buildings, in consultation with the Advisory Board, developed tentative definitions and objectives for various types of historical and archeological areas in the National Park System. [97] This was done to simplify the administration and provide for uniform standards of development and operation of the numerous historical and archeological areas that were transferred to the Park Service as a result of the reorganization of 1933 as well as the many new areas which were proposed as units of the National Park System after passage of the Historic Sites Act. The following definitions and objectives were discussed and adopted as preliminary guidelines for the nomenclature designations of historical and archeological areas by the Advisory Board in March 1937:

(a) National historical and archeological monuments are those areas which have been set aside because they contain the remains of some historic or pre-historic structure whose age, beauty, or historical or archeological significance makes them worthy of national recognition and preservation. . . .

The objectives of national historical and archeological monuments are to preserve, and protect against deterioration the physical remains of historic and pre-historic structures which are of outstanding historical or archeological significance, to restore those remains where it appears feasible or advisable to do so, and to interpret them to the American public in a way that will make their importance readily understood.

(b) National historical parks are those areas which have been set aside because they were the scene of some event, or events, of transcendent importance in American history, and because they afford the opportunity of using a park area to graphically illustrate some of the major themes of American history, of a military, political, social and economic nature.

The objectives of national historical parks are to preserve against change and deterioration areas on which were enacted events of outstanding importance, and to portray and interpret by means of field museums and restoration, as well as ordinary museum exhibits, the mode of life of earlier generations of Americans.

(c) National military parks are those areas which have been set aside because they were the scene of some military action which was of crucial importance in the history of the country.

The objectives of a national military park are to preserve the terrain on which the action took place, to mark the important sites and lines of battle, and to interpret to the visitor the story of the area, including not only the battle but its historic background, and the history of the whole region.

(d) National battlefield sites are those areas which have been set aside because they were the scene of some military action of outstanding importance, in our history, though their significance is not as great as that of the national military parks. . . .

The objectives of national battlefield sites are the same as those of national military parks.

(e) National cemeteries are those areas which have been set aside as resting-places for members of the fighting services of the United States.

The function of national cemeteries is to serve as suitable and dignified burial-grounds for the men and women who have been interred in them.

Miscellaneous memorials are erected from time to time to commemorate some individual or event of outstanding importance in our history.

The function of these memorials is to commemorate great men and events, serving as a constant reminder of the ideals efforts, and accomplishments of previous generations of Americans. [98]

Thereafter, there were various efforts to redesignate the historical areas of the National Park System to coordinate and simplify the nomenclature of these areas according to National Park Service standards. One of the chief attempts to accomplish this goal was the proposal in the legislative program submitted to the Interior Department Solicitor on August 31, 1938, to combine all national military parks with the national cemeteries and designate them as national historical parks. Three national battlefield sites were to be transferred to the national historical park designation while the remaining national battlefield sites were recommended for the memorial category. While this reclassification was designed to streamline the administration of areas in the National Park System, it was also proposed in part to "eliminate much of the public criticism of the National Park System as presenting numerous inconsistencies and illogicalities in the similar designation of areas that are not, in fact, comparable in character." The proposal was defeated, but the issue of reclassification has continued to be discussed periodically to the present day. [99]

Chapter Five continues with...
Impact of History on Master Plans: 1935-1941


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

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