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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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U. Historic Preservation in the National Park Service During the 1930s

The decade of the 1930s was a significant period for the growth and development of the historic preservation movement in the United States. The quadrupling of historical areas in the National Park System as a result of the reorganization of 1933 placed the Service at the forefront of the movement. Public consciousness of the need to preserve our historical and archeological sites resulted in larger appropriations, the acquisition of new areas, and the establishment within the agency of a Branch of Historic Sites charged with responsibility for the preservation, development, and interpretation of the significant cultural resources of the country.

Emergency relief programs designed to help the nation work its way out of economic depression provided the labor, funds, and materials to complete many park projects. The New Deal programs were invaluable in their role in training National Park Service personnel in historic preservation techniques and policies. Historians and architects, for example, learned about restoration and reconstruction by experimentation in state as well as national park areas around the country. This type of "hands-on" training would not have been possible without the influx of money and personnel during the 1930s.

At the same time, study and comparison of European historic preservation policies with those of the United States led to passage of the Historic Sites Act that granted to the Secretary of the Interior through the National Park Service authority to establish and implement a comprehensive national program of historic preservation By the outbreak of World War II the basic foundations of such a policy had been formulated and implemented, and the stage was set for the full flowering of the historic preservation movement in the postwar decades. [110]


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

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