AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION:
Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Evaluation
Evaluation is the process of determining whether identified properties meet defined criteria of significance and therefore should be included in an inventory of historic properties determined to meet the criteria. The criteria employed vary depending on the inventory's use in resource management.
Standard I. Evaluation of the Significance of Historic Properties Uses Established Criteria
The evaluation of historic properties employs criteria to determine which properties are significant. Criteria should therefore focus on historical, architectural, archeological, engineering and cultural values, rather than on treatments. A statement of the minimum information necessary to evaluate properties against the criteria should be provided to direct information gathering activities.
Because the National Register of Historic Places is a major focus of preservation activities on the Federal, State and local levels, the National Register criteria have been widely adopted not only as required for Federal purposes, but for State and local inventories as well. The National Historic Landmark criteria and other criteria used for inclusion of properties in State historic site files are other examples of criteria with different management purposes.
Standard II. Evaluation of Significance Applies the Criteria Within Historic Contexts
Properties are evaluated using a historic context that identifies the significant patterns that properties represent and defines expected property types against which individual properties may be compared. Within this comparative framework, the criteria for evaluation take on particular meaning with regard to individual properties.
Standard III. Evaluation Results in A List or Inventory of Significant Properties That Is Consulted In Assigning Registration and Treatment Priorities
The evaluation process and the subsequent development of an inventory of significant properties is an on-going activity. Evaluation of the significance of a property should be completed before registration is considered and before preservation treatments are selected. The inventory entries should contain sufficient information for subsequent activities such as registration or treatment of properties, including an evaluation statement that makes clear the significance of the property within one or more historic contexts.
Standard IV. Evaluation Results Are Made Available to the Public
Evaluation is the basis of registration and treatment decisions. Information about evaluation decisions should be organized and available for use by the general public and by those who take part in decisions about registration and treatment. Use of appropriate computer-assisted data bases should be a part of the information dissemination effort. Sensitive information, however, must be safeguarded from general public distribution.
Secretary of the Interior's Guidelines for Evaluation
These Guidelines link the Standards for Evaluation with more specific guidance and technical information. These Guidelines describe one approach to meeting the Standards for Evaluation. Agencies, organizations, or individuals proposing to approach evaluation differently may wish to review their approach with the National Park Service.
These Guidelines describe principles for evaluating the significance of one or more historic properties with regard to a given set of criteria.
Groups of related properties should be evaluated at the same time whenever possible; for example, following completion of a theme study or community survey.
Evaluation should not be undertaken using documentation that may be out of date. Prior to proceeding with evaluation the current condition of the property should be determined and previous analyses evaluated in light of any new information.
Evaluation must be performed by persons qualified by education, training and experience in the application of the criteria. Where feasible, evaluation should be performed in consultation with other individuals experienced in applying the relevant criteria in the geographical area under consideration; for example, the State Historic Preservation Officer or local landmarks commission.
Evaluation is completed with a written determination that a property is or is not significant based on provided information. This statement should be part of the record.
The purposes of evaluation criteria should be made clear. For example, the criteria may be used "to evaluate properties for inclusion in the county landmarks list," or "to implement the National Register of Historic Places program."
For Federal cultural resource management purposes, criteria used to develop an inventory should be coordinated with the National Register criteria for evaluation as implemented in the approved State comprehensive historic preservation plan.
Content of Criteria: Criteria should be appropriate in scale to the purpose of the evaluation. For example, criteria designed to describe national significance should not be used as the basis for creating a county or State inventory. Criteria should be categorical and not attempt to describe in detail every property likely to qualify. Criteria should outline the disciplines or broad areas of concern (history, archeology, architectural history, engineering and culture, for example) included within the scope of the inventory; explain what kinds of properties, if any, are excluded and the reasons for exclusion; and define how levels of significance are measured, if such levels are incorporated into the criteria. If the criteria are to be used in situations where the National Register criteria are also widely used, it is valuable to include a statement explaining the relationship of the criteria used to the National Register criteria, including how the scope of the inventory differs from that defined by the National Register criteria and how the inventory could be used to identify properties that meet the National Register criteria.
Information Needed to Evaluate Properties: The criteria should be accompanied by a statement defining the minimum information necessary to evaluate properties to insure that this information is collected during identification activities intended to locate specific historic properties. Generally, at least the following will be needed:
1. Adequately developed historic contexts, including identified property types. (See the Guidelines for Preservation Planning for discussion of development of historic contexts.)
2. Sufficient information about the appearance, condition and associative values of the property to be evaluated to:
it as to property type;
Usually documentation need not include such items as a complete title history or biography of every owner of a property, except where that information is important in evaluating its significance. Information on proposed or potential treatments or threats, such as destruction of a property through uncontrollable natural processes, is also not needed for evaluation, unless those effects are likely to occur prior to or during the evaluation, thereby altering the significant characteristic of the property. If archeological testing or structural analysis is needed for evaluation, it should not proceed beyond the point of providing the information necessary for evaluation and should not unnecessarily affect significant features or values of the property.
When more information is needed: Evaluation cannot be conducted unless all necessary information is available. (See Information Needed to Evaluate Properties.) Any missing information or analysis should be identified (e.g. development of context or information on the property) as well as the specific activities required to obtain the information (archival research, field survey and testing, or laboratory testing). When adequate information is not available, it is important to record that fact so that evaluation will not be undertaken until the information can be obtained. In some cases needed information is not obtainable, for example, where historical records have been destroyed or analytical techniques have not been developed to date materials in archeological sites. If an evaluation must be completed in these cases, it is important to acknowledge what information was not obtainable and how that missing information may affect the reliability of the evaluation.
The first step in evaluation is considering how the criteria apply to the particular historic context. This is done by reviewing the previously developed narrative for the historic context and determining how the criteria would apply to properties in that context, based on the important patterns, events, persons and cultural values identified. (See the discussion of the historic context narrative in the Guidelines for Preservation Planning.) This step includes identification of which criteria each property type might meet and how integrity is to be evaluated for each property type under each criterion. Specific guidelines for evaluating the eligibility of individual properties should be established. These guidelines should outline and justify the specific physical characteristics or data requirements that an individual property must possess to retain integrity for the particular property type; and define the process by which revisions or additions can be made to the evaluation framework.
Consideration of property type and integrity: After considering how the criteria apply to the particular historic context, the evaluation process for a property generally includes the following steps:
2. A comparison is made between the existing information about the property and the integrity characteristics or data required for the property type.
b. If the comparison shows that the property does not meet the minimum requirements, one of several conclusions is reached:
The integrity of the property in its current condition, rather than its likely condition after a proposed treatment, should be evaluated. Factors such as structural problems, deterioration, or abandonment should be considered in the evaluation only if they have affected the integrity of the significant features or characteristics of the property.
An inventory is a repository of information on specific properties evaluated as significant.
Content: The inventory should include:
Maintenance: Inventory entries should be maintained so that they accurately represent what is known about historic properties in the area covered by the inventory. This will include new information gained from research and survey about the historic contexts, property types, and previously evaluated properties, as well as information about newly evaluated properties. For individual properties, addition of kinds of significance, change in the boundaries, or loss of significance through demolition or alteration should be recorded.
Uses and Availability: An inventory should be managed so that the information is accessible. Its usefulness depends on the organization of information and on its ability to incorporate new information. An inventory should be structured so that entries can be retrieved by locality or by historic context.
The availability of the inventory information should be announced or a summary should be distributed. This may be in the form of a list of properties evaluated as significant or a summary of the historic contexts and the kinds of properties in the inventory. Inventories should be available to managers, planners, and the general public at local, State, regional, and Federal agency levels.
It is necessary to protect information about archeological sites or other properties whose integrity may be damaged by widespread knowledge of their location. It may also be necessary to protect information on the location of properties such as religious sites, structures, or objects whose cultural value would be compromised by public knowledge of the property's location.
Recommended Sources of Technical Information
Archaeological Method and Theory: An Encyclopedia. Linda Ellis, editor. Garland Publishing, Inc., New York, 2000.
Cultural Resource Significance Evaluation: Proceedings of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Workshop 3-4 October 1994, Vicksburg, Mississippi. Frederick L. Briuer and Clay Mathers, editors. US. Army Corps of Engineers, IWR Report 96-EL-3, 1996.
Defining Boundaries for National Register Properties (WordPerfect file). Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1995.
Geophysical Exploration for Archaeology: An Introduction to Geophysical Exploration. Bruce W. Bevan. Midwest Archeological Center Special Report No. 1. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Midwest Archeological Center, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1998.
"Other Questions that Count: Introductory Comments on Assessing Significance in Historical Archaeology." William B. Lees and Vergil E. Noble. Historical Archaeology 24(2):10-13, 1990.
Researching a Historic Property. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1991, revised 1998.
Settler Communities in the West: Historic Contexts for Cultural Resource Managers of Department of Defense Lands. Robert Lyon, editor. National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Region, 1994.
National Park Service, 1994, Thematic Framework. Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
Trends and Patterns in Cultural Resource Significance: An Historical Perspective and Annotated Bibliography (.pdf file). Frederick L. Briuer and Clay Mathers. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Support Center IWR Report 96-EL-1, 1996.
Guidelines for Identifying, Evaluating and Registering Aids to Navigation (WordPerfect file). Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1990.
Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Historic Aviation Properties. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1998.
Guidelines for Identifying, Evaluating and Registering America's Historic Battlefields. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1992.
Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Cemeteries and Burial Place. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1992.
How to Evaluate and Nominate Designed Historic Landscapes. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1990.
Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Historical Archeological Sites (WordPerfect file or .zip file). Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1992, revised 1999.
Guidelines for Identifying, Evaluating and Registering Historic Mining Properties. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1992, revised 1997, 1999.
How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Post Offices (WordPerfect file). Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1984, revised 1994.
Guidelines for Evaluating and Nominating Properties that Have Achieved Siginificance in the Past Fifty Years. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1979, revised 1990, 1996, 1998.
Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Rural Historic Landscapes. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1991, revised 1999.
Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Properties Associated with Significant Persons. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1989.
Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Traditional Cultural Properties. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1990, revised 1992, 1998.
Nominating Historic Vessels and Shipwrecks to the National Register of Historic Places. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register, History and Education, 1992.
How To Establish Boundaries for National Register Properties.
How To Evaluate and Nominate Potential National Register Properties That Have Achieved Significance Within the Last 50 Years.
How To Improve Quality of Photos for National Register Nominations.
How to Apply for Certification of Significance Under Section 2124 of the Tax Reform Act of 1976.
How To Apply for Certification of State and Local Statutes and Historic Districts.
How To Qualify Historic Properties Under the New Federal Law Affecting Easements.
Small, Surface, and Disturbed Sites as Sources of Significant Archeological
Data. Valerie Talmage and Olga Chesler. Interagency Archeological
Service, 1977. Washington, D.C. Available from the National Technical
Information Service. NTIS Publication Number PB 270939/AS. Discusses
the role of small, surface, and disturbed sites as sources of significant
information about a variety of prehistoric activities. These types of
sites are frequently ignored in the development of regional archeological