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Compile the Other Components of a National Historic Landmark Nomination

This page provides information about determining the historic name, period of significance, and physical parameters for the nominated property, as well as which resources are contributing and noncontributing. You will find information about the maps, site plans, and photographs that you will need for the nomination.

Please click on the questions below to learn more.


What specific information will I need to determine in order to complete the nomination form?

You will need to determine:

  • The historic name of the property (what it was called when the nationally significant events occurred)
  • The time frame in which the nationally significant events associated with this property occurred (this is called the period of significance)
  • Which components of the site are considered contributing resources to the property and which components are considered noncontributing resources to the property
  • The boundaries of the property based on the period of national significance and those resources which contribute to that national significance

The following pages will explain each of these points in greater detail.

How do I determine the time frame in which the property played a major role?

The time period when a property was associated with nationally significant events, activities, and persons is called the period of significance. Enter the dates for one or more periods of time when the property attained this national significance. Some periods of significance are as brief as one day or year while others span many, even thousands, of years.

Properties significant for architecture or engineering use the date of construction and/or the dates of any significant alterations and additions for the period of significance.

For archeologically significant properties, the period of significance is the period during which or about which archeological data will provide nationally significant information.

For properties nominated under criteria other than 6, the property must possess a high degree of historic integrity for all periods of national significance listed. Archeological integrity under Criterion 6 is based on information potential rather than on the seven aspects of historic integrity.

Examples of period of significance: Ludlow Tent Colony Site, Ludlow, CO; Stonewall Inn, New York, NY; and The Miami Circle at Brickell Point Site,Miami, FL

What resources get included in the NHL?

Buildings: A building, such as a house, barn, church, hotel, or similar construction, is created principally to shelter any form of human activity. "Building" may also be used to refer to a historically and functionally related unit, such as a courthouse and jail or a house and barn.

Sites: A site is the location of a significant event, a prehistoric or historic occupation or activity, or a building or structure. While the buildings and structures on a site may be standing, ruined, or simply non-existent at this time, the location itself possesses historic, cultural, or archeological value. A site might be a battlefield or the gardens for a large estate.

Structures: Structures are those constructions intended for uses other than creating human shelter. A structure might be a chicken coop, a tunnel, a dam, a windmill, a gazebo, a roadway, or a bridge.

Objects: Objects are primarily artistic in nature or relatively small in scale. They are simply constructed. Although the object may be, by nature or design, movable, an object is usually associated with a specific setting or environment. An object might be a fountain or a monument.

Districts: A district is a collection of sites, buildings, structures, or objects. These resources are either historically connected or connected aesthetically by a plan or physical development.

Taken together, we refer to buildings, sites, structures, and objects as "resources."

What if some of the resources within the boundaries of the nominated property were irrelevant or did not exist during the period of national significance?

The NHL Program makes a distinction between resources which are "contributing" and those that are "noncontributing."

A contributing building, site, structure, or object adds to the historical associations, historic architectural qualities, or archeological values present during the period of national significance, relates to the documented significance of the property, was present during the period of significance, and possesses a high degree of historic integrity.

A noncontributing building, site, structure, or object was not present during the period of significance, or it does not relate to the documented national significance of the property. A resource is also considered noncontributing if due to alterations, disturbances, additions, or other changes, it no longer possesses a high degree of historical integrity.  If resources listed in the National Register of Historic Places at the state or local level of significance are included in the NHL nomination, they should be counted as noncontributing resources for the purpose of the NHL nomination.

Please note: the majority of resources within an NHL should be contributing.

Examples of contributing versus noncontributing resources: Little Tokyo Historic District, Los Angeles, CA; and Black Jack Battlefield, Douglas County, KS

How do I determine the physical parameters of the historic site?

The boundary of the property is determined by the property's historic physical parameters.

Select boundaries that encompass the entire nationally significant historic resource, including modern additions that may be attached to historic resources. Include any surrounding land historically associated with the resource that retains a high degree of historic integrity and contributes to the property's historic significance.

The area to be nominated should be large enough to include all nationally significant historic features of the property, but should not include buffer zones or acreage around the edges of the property not directly contributing to the national significance of the property.

Examples of property boundaries: Dorchester Academy Boys' Dormitory, Midway, GA; and Sage Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, Ganado, AZ

How do I determine the physical parameters of an archeological site?

For archeological properties, the boundaries of the property are defined by the physical extent of the nationally significant resources and may include both above and below ground features that can contribute nationally significant information.

The area to be designated should be large enough to include all historic and/or archeological features of a property, but should not include buffer zones or acreage not directly contributing to the significance of the property.

Example of an archeological boundary: Menoken Indian Village Site, Burleigh County, ND

What kind of map do I need?

You will need a paper or electronic map of your property.

If you would like to sumbit a paper map, please follow these guidelines:

  • Use an original United States Geological Survey (USGS) map (or maps, if necessary). You can obtain a USGS map directly from the United States Geological Survey.
  • Use a 7.5 or 15 minute series USGS map. Do not submit fragments or copies of USGS maps because they cannot be checked for UTM references.
  • On the map, in pencil only, locate either the single UTM reference point (for properties less than 10 acres), the polygon and its vertices encompassing the boundaries (for properties of 10 or more acres), or the line and reference points indicating the course of the property (for linear properties). Also, identify the name of the property, the location of the property, and the UTM references entered in Section 10.

If you would like to submit an electronic map, please consult the National Register's guidelines for electronic maps.

Will I need a site plan?  A floor plan?

We require a site plan. If your property is a building, you should also include a floor plan.  Please do not embed maps or site plans in the text of the nomination.

Submit at least one detailed map or sketch map for districts and for properties containing a substantial number of resources. Plat books, insurance maps, bird's-eye views, district highway maps, and hand-drawn maps may be used. Sketch maps need not be drawn to a precise scale, unless they are also used in place of a verbal boundary description.

The information on the maps should not rely solely on color coding.  Please also use coding, crosshatching, numbering, or other graphic techniques.

The maps should have:

  • The boundaries of the property, carefully delineated
  • The names of streets or highway numbers, including those bordering the property
  • A north arrow and approximate scale, if done to scale
  • Names or numbers of parcels that correspond to the description of the resources in Section 7
  • Contributing buildings, sites, structures, and objects, (these should be numbered and the numbering should correspond to the listing of buildings, sites, structures, and objects listed in Section 7)
  • Noncontributing buildings, sites, structures, and objects (these should be numbered and the numbering should correspond to the listing of buildings, sites, structures, and objects listed in Section 7)
  • Other natural features or land uses covering substantial acreage or having historical significance such as forests, fields, rivers, lakes, etc.
  • Archeological sites and districts should also include the location and extent of disturbances, including previous excavations; the location of specific significant features and artifact loci; and the distribution of sites if it is an archeological district.

If the original map(s) is larger than 8½ x 11 inches, a copy must also be submitted that has been reduced to such size.

Example: Site plan for the Beth Sholom Synagogue, Elkins Park, PA


If the resource is a single building, or a building or buildings are major contributing resources, floor plans of the major levels of the building(s) are required even if the property is not being considered nationally significant for its architecture (Criterion 4). These floor plans need not be done to scale or by a professional architect; hand-drawn floor plans are acceptable.

Floor plans assist in clarifying the verbal description of the property in Section 7 of the nomination; they also help determine the historic integrity of the property.

Floor plans should clearly show any structural changes such as new or sealed door or window openings, and additions or removals such as porches, fireplaces, stairs, or interior partition walls.

Example: Floor plan for the Beth Sholom Synagogue, Elkins Park, PA

What types of photographs do I need?

Photographs submitted to the National Historic Landmarks Program are regarded as official documentation. They should be clear, well-composed, and provide an accurate visual representation of the property and its significant features. They must illustrate the qualities discussed in the nomination.

Photographs should show both historically significant resources and illustrate the historic integrity of those resource(s). The photos of the property must be current ones.

Please do not embed images in the nomination itself. Send the photos as separate attachments.

These photos must meet our technical requirements and may be digital. For information about the requirements, please read the National Register's Photograph Policy Factsheet. (The NHL Program follows the same guidelines.)

All photos submitted to the NPS enter into the public domain.

Checklist: Before you go any further

1. Do I know the NHL criteria and themes I will be using?

2. Have I determined the historic name, period of significance, and NHL boundary based on the property's national significance?

3. Do I have the required photos, maps, site plans, and floor plans? Do those photos and maps meet the technical requirements for the NHL Program?

Continue to the next section: writing the nomination