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NPS Expansion: 1930s







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NPS 1933-39




Appendix 9

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

Appendix 9
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Procedures to Implementing Historic Sites Act



February 28, 1936.

The Director,

     National Park Service.

My dear Mr. Director:

Pursuant to the authority granted to the Secretary of the Interior by the Act of August 21, 1935 (Public Law No. 292, 74th Congress), the following procedure is established for the purpose of preserving for public use historic sites, buildings, and objects of national significance for the inspiration and benefit of the people of the United States. These shall continue in force and effect until otherwise directed by the Secretary.

1. The National Park Service, through its Branch of Historic Sites and Buildings, shall perform the duties prescribed in the Act, and in so doing it shall study and investigate historic and archeologic sites and buildings through out the United States, and list, describe, tabulate, classify and evaluate such sites for the purpose of developing a comprehensive long-term plan for their acquisition, preservation and use. It shall submit annually to the Secretary of the Interior a report on the areas studied during the preceding year.

2. The Director of the National Park Service, after consultation with the Advisory Board or the appropriate sub-committee thereof, shall recommend to the Secretary the designation as National Historic Sites of any such historic sites and buildings as appear to possess the necessary attributes, including national historical or archeological significance, availability, possession of suitable physical characteristics, capability of development and control, and the possibility of administration as a National Historic Site.

The procedure in designating a National Historic Site shall be as follows:

a. Study of the site by the National Park Service and a determination of its national importance within the scope of the Act.

b. Preparation by the National Park Service of a memorandum for the Secretary's approval, including a map of the recommended boundaries and descriptive material of the site to be designated. The memorandum shall include recommendations as to the official name of the site and the method of administering it if and when accepted. The justification must show that the recommended site is of national significance.

c. Approval by the Secretary of the memorandum and preparation by the National Park Service for the approval of the Secretary of appropriate contractual agreements with Federal departments or agencies, state or local governments, or private owners, when necessary to facilitate the administration of areas under the scope of the Act.

d. Examination and acceptance of the necessary deeds by the Secretary, if title to the area or any part of it is to be vested in the Federal Government.

e. Approval by the Secretary of the contractual agreements, where necessary, and preparation of the order for the signature of the Secretary designating the area as a National Historic Site.

f. Filing of the original and two duplicate originals of certified copies of the signed departmental order with the Division of the Federal Register, National Archives, upon which the area is then to be considered a National Historic Site.

3. Upon its designation as a National Historic Site, the following procedure shall govern:

a. As contemplated by the Act, jurisdiction and control over National Historic Sites may be exercised by the National Park Service or in the discretion of the Secretary, by prior agreement, such designated sites may remain under private control or under the jurisdiction of a State or local government in accordance with the terms of Section 2 (c) of Public Law No. 292.

When jurisdiction and control are vested in the National Park Service, the area shall be administered in the same manner as a national historic park or monument. Any National Historic Site within or in the vicinity of a national park or monument shall preferably be administered in connection with such park or monument.

Whenever practicable, appropriate fees shall be charged for admission to such national historic sites, such fees to be fixed in each case by the Director of the National Park Service, with the approval of the Secretary. Provided, that no child sixteen years of age or under, accompanied by a parent or guardian, shall be charged a fee for admission to any national historic site, and that classes from educational institutions, accompanied by teachers or instructors, shall be admitted free of charge.

b. As a condition precedent to the designation of National Historic Sites which will be under the control of persons or agencies other than the United States, the National Park Service shall, with the approval of the Secretary, make contracts or arrangements with the owners, whether private parties, organizations, or public agencies, defining the terms under which such site is to be controlled and administered. In such cases, the National Park Service may arrange for the use of available funds, if any, for the restoration or improvement of such sites, provided the contractual agreements with the owners, made in consideration of such restoration or improvement, are satisfactory to the Secretary.

The National Park Service shall also make such arrangements as may be necessary and feasible for the protection of historic sites against impairment, encroachment, or danger from adjacent areas.

All such contractual agreements shall contain a covenant on part of the owner of the site that such owner will not make nor authorize to be made any changes in the state of the premises, that he will not erect or permit to be erected thereon any monument, building, marker or sign of any nature whatsoever, nor disseminate to the public any historical information concerning the particular site without the consent of the Director of the National Park Service. Such contractual agreements shall be executed in such form and manner as to be satisfactory to the Secretary.

In all contracts with such owners for the operation of the sites by the National Park Service, a provision shall be inserted prescribing the use of any funds collected as admission fees or from other sources for the maintenance and repair of such sites and structure thereon, or for payment to the owners for the use of the property, or for making payments on the purchase price in case of an option or agreement for purchase by the United States.

4. In making the surveys and investigations prescribed above, the Director of the National Park Service, shall, whenever practicable, accept the assistance of, and cooperate with interested State, or municipal departments or agencies, or educational or scientific institutions, or patriotic or historical associations, or public or private corporations or associations, or individuals, provided such assistance is furnished without expense to the United States.

All plans, drawings, photographs, and other data secured as a result of such surveys and investigations shall be preserved by the National Park Service and shall be open to public inspection except in case of rare documents, as determined by the Director, copies of which shall be made available. The National Park Service may arrange to publish such data as may be necessary for an educational program to make available to the public facts and information pertaining to American historic and archeologic sites, buildings, and objects of national significance. Reasonable charges may be made for the dissemination of any such facts or information.

5. Upon the recommendation of the Director and the approval of the Secretary, historic sites will be acquired by the United States by gift, purchase or otherwise, subject to the restrictions contained in section 2 (d) of the Act of August 21, 1935. In all cases of acquisition the title and evidence of title to lands acquired shall be satisfactory to the Secretary.

6. a. No monument, marker, tablet, or other memorial shall be placed upon any part of a national historic site until the design, text, description, material, finish, and location shall have been approved by the Director of the National Park Service. Where important matters of design are involved the advice of the National Commission of Fine Arts shall be secured. In all cases, monumentation shall be kept to the essential minimum, and only such memorials will be approved as are appropriate thereto.

b. All monuments or markers in national historic sites shall be erected in strict accordance with the plans and specifications approved by the Director of the National Park Service. Those engaged in placing monuments or markers shall notify the Director prior to the beginning of work and shall not proceed with their construction and emplacement until authority in writing has been received. Those engaged in placing said markers or monuments shall exercise special care to avoid injury to the grounds, trees, shrubbery, buildings or other structures. After the completion of the work the contractor must clear the grounds, trees, shrubbery, buildings or other structures of all debris which may have accumulated and leave them in as good condition as before beginning the work. Where necessary a certified check or bond to accomplish this purpose shall be required.

7. A board, known as the Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings and Monuments, has been established to advise on any matters relating to National Park Service activities and to the administration of the above mentioned Act as may be submitted to it by the Secretary of the Interior. It may also recommend policies to the Secretary pertaining to national parks and to the restoration, reconstruction, conservation and general administration of historic and archeologic sites, buildings, and properties. The Director of the National Park Service, as the representative of the Secretary, may submit to said Advisory Board from time to time matters on which that Board's advice is desired.

When deemed necessary, technical advisory committees may be established to act in an advisory capacity in connection with the restoration or reconstruction of any historic or prehistoric building or structure.

Sincerely yours,

/s/ Charles West

Acting Secretary of the Interior

1st Advisory Board Meeting, Minutes and Resolutions, Advisory Boards and Commissions Office, Department of the Interior.


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

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