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Write a Draft National Historic Landmark Nomination

 

National Historic Landmark nominations must follow the NHL Program's guidelines for content, formatting, and style. This page covers common questions about filling out the NHL nomination form.

Please click on the questions below to learn more.

 

Where do I get the NHL nomination form and how should it be formatted?

Your NHL contact will provide you with an electronic nomination form. Please fill out the nomination form using a current version of Microsoft Word.

When completing the form please observe the following conventions:

  • Use your machine's default font (usually a Times New Roman 12 point). Do not change fonts or add any additional font codes in the document.
  • Enter the name of the property in both Header A and Header B, overwriting the text “PROPERTY NAME.” Be sure to retain all the capital letters and use bold codes.
  • Use the typeover feature when filling in blanks.
  • Do not adjust margins within the document.
  • Use single-spaced typing.
  • Use footnotes for nominations of historic properties.
  • Use the Society for American Archaeology's style guide if you are nominating an archeological site.
  • Italicize, do not underline, titles and foreign words.
  • Do not scan photographs or other illustrations into the text of the document.
  • Do not reference images within the text.
  • If you are including a column format inventory for section 7, use parallel columns, not newspaper columns. Create columns only by using Microsoft Word's column feature.
  • Use letters, alphabetically, to reference the UTM points in section 10.

How do I fill out sections 1-6?

Click on the links below for more information:

This information is also available via the National Register Bulletin on How to Prepare National Historic Landmark Nominations.

How do I describe my property? (Section 7)

Section 7 requires a contemporary and historic description of the property and its physical characteristics; this section demonstrates the high level of historic integrity which the property must possess.

Outlining Section 7:
  • Begin with a summary paragraph that briefly describes the general characteristics of the property, such as its location and setting, type, style, method of construction, size, and significant features. The summary paragraph should be an overview of the current condition of the property and its site. Subsequent paragraphs will provide the details.
  • Describe the setting, buildings, and other major resources, outbuildings, surface and subsurface remains (for properties with archeological national significance), and landscape features for all contributing and noncontributing resources. List and number all of the buildings, sites, structures, and objects which are within the proposed NHL. Make sure that the numbering you use corresponds to the numbering on the map and/or site plan.
  • Document the evolution of the property over time, describing major changes since its construction or its period of national significance.

Example: Section 7 from the USS Constellation NHL nomination, Baltimore, MD

How do I describe the architecture in Section 7?

Good quality photographs, and site and floor plans provide much of the documentation necessary to convey the appearance of a property. However, there are many features which are not evident in photographs. For example, the materials used in construction should be described and this description should be tied to the issue of integrity. This verbal description of the materials used contributes to a better understanding of how a building, structure, or landscape evolved.

Integrity involves the retention of historic fabric. A property with strong integrity will have a very minimal amount of alterations. Use Section 7 to clarify how and why your property retains its integrity.

Descriptions should concentrate on important features not evident in the photographs, especially as they relate to how a building functioned. This is particularly true of buildings with extended wings, such as farmhouses, or connected storage buildings and boiler houses with factories.

The identification of principal rooms helps explain how a building functioned. The functions of various spaces are especially important with industrial architecture since the operation of a mill cannot be understood without explaining its internal arrangements. The same applies for schools, libraries, or other institutional buildings.

The importance of understanding how a building functioned is relevant for criteria 1 and 2, as well as 4. By describing the function of a property (house and grounds) you will be less likely to omit important features in your descriptions.

Example: Section 7 from the U.S. Post Office and Court House (James R. Browning U.S. Court of Appeals) NHL nomination, San Francisco, CA

Example: Section 7 from the Gardner Earl Memorial Chapel and Crematorium NHL nomination, Troy, NY

Do I need to include an architectural description of my property even if I am not using Criterion 4? (Section 7)

Yes. Even if you are not nominating the property for its architecture, Section 7 should describe the property in terms of its architecture.

Example: Section 7 from the Hispanic Society of America Complex NHL nomination, New York, NY

How do I describe my archeological property? (Section 7 for Criterion 6 properties)

Section 7 is a narrative, physical description of the property as it exists today and as it was in the past (during the period of significance). This includes a description of the property's past and current environmental setting and physical condition.

Outlining Section 7:

  • Begin with a summary paragraph that briefly describes the general characteristics of the property, such as its location, setting, type, period of significance, cultural group(s) associated with the property, range of the contributing resources, and integrity of the property and its setting. Please note that the period of significance and cultural group will be discussed more fully in Section 8, but for the purposes of this summary, these subjects should be discussed to the level needed to provide the reader with a basic orientation regarding the property.
  • Describe the present and, if different, the relevant past environmental setting that prevailed during the property's period(s) of occupation or use, or period of significance (which may relate to the time when the archeological research was done at the property). This description should focus on the environmental features or factors that are or were relevant to the location, use, formation, or preservation of the archeological property.
  • Describe the physical characteristics of the property including: type site, important structures or ruins, density of features, artifacts, ecofacts, the extent of the deposits, and integrity including any natural and cultural process that have disturbed the site.
  • Describe previous investigations: Who did them? When? Why? Where? What did they find and where are the collections currently housed?

Example: Section 7 from the Menoken Indian Village Site NHL nomination, Burleigh County, ND

Example: Section 7 from the Travelers Rest NHL nomination, Lolo, MT

Do I need to discuss archeology if I am not using Criterion 6?

Maybe, maybe not.

It is always a good idea to thoroughly research a property to determine the full extent of a property's significance. This should include research into whether or not a property has been investigated archeologically or if it has archeological potential.

If you find that a property has had archeological investigations or has archeological potential, it may or may not contribute to the national significance of the property. However, the nomination should include a brief discussion of the archeology of the site if archeology has been done or if it may be done there. The extent to which you discuss archeology in a nomination will depend on the level of significance of the archeological resources and in what ways the resources contribute to the significance of the property.

If you are unsure about how archeology might contribute you should:

  • Discuss the archeology of the property with a qualified, professional archeologist. If the archeology dates to the precontact period, talk with a prehistorian (an archeologist who studies the precontact period). If the archeology dates to the historic period, talk with a historical archeologist (an archeologist who studies the historic period).
  • You should note in the nomination, where applicable, that archeological excavations have been done.

Example (Criterion 4 nomination that discusses archeology): Sections 7 and 8 from the Rosedown Plantation NHL nomination, St. Francisville, LA

Example (Criterion 4 nomination that discusses archeology): Sections 7 and 8 from the Historic Moravian Bethlehem Historic District NHL nomination, Bethlehem, PA

What factors should I include when discussing my property’s national significance? (Section 8)

The following information must be provided in order to demonstrate how a property possesses exceptional significance in illustrating or interpreting a broad national story and to make a compelling justification for NHL designation.

Outlining Section 8:

  • Begin with a summary statement to introduce the significance section. This should include a discussion of the relevant NHL criterion/criteria and related NHL themes. Provide an overview of the property's national significance. This should be done in a few paragraphs.
  • Discuss the broad national story associated with this property. NHL theme studies may be useful to you in establishing this historic context.
  • Provide the historical background of the property and place the property's history and/or archeology within the context of the national story.
  • Using specific examples, discuss how and why your property possesses national significance.
  • Establish the relative merit of the significance and historic integrity of the property in comparison to other similar properties.
  • Write a concluding paragraph.
  • Your argument must be supported with footnoted citations, unless you are using the Society for American Archaeology's citation method for archeological properties.

Please note: when writing Section 8, please refrain from using block quotations unless absolutely necessary; large block quotations typically do not advance an argument as to why the property is eligible for NHL designation.

Example: Section 8 from the B Reactor NHL nomination, Richland, WA

How do I describe the significance of my archeological property? (Section 8 for Criterion 6 properties)

The following information should be provided in order to demonstrate how a property illustrates nationally significant information and to make a compelling argument for NHL designation for your archeological property.

Outlining Section 8:

  • Begin with a summary introductory statement. Include a discussion of the NHL criteria and related NHL themes. Provide an overview of the national significance of the property. This should be done in a few paragraphs.
  • Discuss the national historic and archeological context of the property. The context will include a body of thematically, geographically, and temporally linked information; this is the analytical framework within which the property's importance can be understood and to which archeological investigations are likely to contribute important information.
  • Directly relate your property to NHL Criterion 6. Provide information about the research agenda, demonstrating how this research agenda discusses nationally significant information. Include a discussion of the archeological literature that shows how this property provides a major contribution to the field.
  • Discuss the related NHL theme and compare your property to other properties of this type or similar properties to establish how your property provides nationally significant information.
  • Write a concluding paragraph.

To learn more, please listen to our webinar about writing Section 8 for Criterion 6 properties.

Example: Section 8 from the Meadowcroft Rockshelter NHL nomination, Avella, PA

What do I do if my property is one of those requiring special consideration? (NHL Exceptions 1-8)

Properties which fall into the following categories require special consideration in order to be designated as NHLs. If a property is eligible for an exception, it generally has to meet higher standards in its other criteria for designation. If your property fits into any of these categories, please check with your NHL reviewer to see if it may still be eligible for NHL designation. The examples below are NHLs which were designated with an exception in each one of these categories:

What citation method should I use for my footnotes?

For properties nominated under Criteria 1-5, use The Chicago Manual of Style published by the University of Chicago Press (see examples below). The Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide is a helpful online reference tool. For properties nominated under Criterion 6, use the Society for American Archaeology's style guide. The NHL Program also has a Style Sheet to serve as a quick reference guide for preparers.

Include only information pertinent to the property and its eligibility.

 

Examples of how to properly cite sources in your footnotes using The Chicago Manual of Style:

Book:
One author:
N(ote): 1. Beth Savage, ed., African American Historic Places (Washington, DC: Preservation Press, 1994), 69.

Chapter or other part of a book:
N: 5. Andrew Wiese, “‘The House I Live In': Race, Class, and African American Suburban Dreams in the Postwar United States,” in The New Suburban History, ed. Kevin M. Kruse and Thomas J. Sugrue (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 101–102.

Oral History Interview:
N: 8. Benjamin Spock, interview by Milton J. Sean, November 20, 1974, interview 67A, transcript, Senn Oral History Collection, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD.

National Register of Historic Places or National Historic Landmark Nomination Form:
N: 3. Susan L. Flader, “Aldo Leopold Shack,” National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1978), Section 8.

HABS-HAER Report:
N: 16. Sarah Eaton, “Pan American Airways System Terminal Building, 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, FL,” Historic American Buildings Survey Report [HABS No. FL-36] (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1981), 2.

Historic Structures Report:
N: Cultural Resources Division, Southeast Regional Office, “Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Bodie Island Lighthouse and Oil House Historic Structure Report” (Atlanta: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, December 2004).

 

Examples of how to properly format in-text citations using the Society for American Archaeology guidelines:

Simple citation:
(Wylie 1991) or Wylie (1991)

Primary-source materials (e.g., unpublished archival materials including administrative records, letters, etc.):
(Archivo General de la Nación, Lima [AGN], Juzgado de Aguas 3.3.7.23, f. 3v); note that subsequent citations would use only the acronym AGN and the shortened "Aguas" (e.g., AGN, Aguas 3.3.4.39, 3.3.9.9)

Newspapers:
(Weekly Missouri Courier [WMC], 7 July 1838: page numbers [if available])

What citation method should I use for my bibliography?

Enter the primary and secondary sources used in documenting and evaluating the national significance of the property. These include books, journal or magazine articles, newspaper articles, interviews, planning documents, historic resource studies or survey reports, prepared NHL Theme Studies, census data, correspondence, deeds, wills, business records, diaries, and other sources.

For properties nominated under Criteria 1-5, use The Chicago Manual of Style published by the University of Chicago Press (see examples below). The Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide is a helpful online reference tool. For properties nominated under Criterion 6, use the Society for American Archaeology's style guide. The NHL Program also has a Style Sheet to serve as a quick reference guide for preparers.

 

Examples of how to properly cite sources in a bibliography using The Chicago Manual of Style:

Book:
One author
Savage, Beth, ed. African American Historic Places. Washington, DC: Preservation Press, 1994.

Chapter or other part of a book
Wiese, Andrew. “‘The House I Live In': Race, Class, and African American Suburban Dreams in the Postwar United States.” In The New Suburban History, edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Thomas J. Sugrue, 11-32. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Oral History:
Spock, Benjamin. Interview by Milton J. Sean. November 20, 1974, interview 67A, transcript, Senn Oral History Collection, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD.

National Register of Historic Places or National Historic Landmark Nomination Form:
Flader, Susan L. “Aldo Leopold Shack,” National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1978.

HABS-HAER Report:
Eaton, Sarah. “Pan American Airways System Terminal Building, 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, FL,” Historic American Buildings Survey Report (HABS No. FL-36). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1981.

Historic Structures Report:
Cultural Resources Division, Southeast Regional Office. “Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Bodie Island Lighthouse and Oil House Historic Structure Report.” Atlanta: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, December 2004.


Examples of how to properly cite sources in References Cited using American Antiquity:

Book, single author:
Elster, Jon
1989 Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences. Cambridge University Press, New York.

Titled volume/monograph in a series:
Thomas, David H.
1983 The Archaeology of Monitor Valley: 2. Gatecliff Shelter. Anthropological Papers Vol. 59, Pt. 1. American Museum of Natural History, New York.

Article in a journal:
Ashmore, Wendy
1991 Site-Planning Principles and Concepts of Directionality Among the Ancient Maya. Latin American Antiquity 2:199–226.

Item in a newspaper:
Noble, John W.
2002 When Humans Became Human. New York Times 26 February:D1, D5. New York

Where do my maps and site plan go?

Please do not embed maps or site plans in the text of the nomination.

If you have chosen to submit paper maps and site plans:

  • Review the guidelines for what kind of paper map(s) you need.
  • The original USGS map should be folded to fit into a folder approximately 8½x11 inches.
  • An 8½x11" copy of the map(s) may also be submitted as an image file via email or on a USB drive
  • All other maps (sketch map(s), site plans, etc.) should be folded to fit into a folder approximately 8½x11 inches. If the original map(s) is larger than 8½x11 inches, a copy must also be submitted that has been reduced to this size. This photocopy will be used as reproduction of the map for review by the parties of notification and the various NPS review bodies.

If you have chosen to submit electronic maps and site plans:

Where do my photographs go?

Not in the text!

Submit your color photographs via email or on a USB drive. Black and white images must be submitted on paper that meets our archival standards. See the photo policy for further guidance.

Once your images are submitted, your NHL staff contact will select several representative black and white images to include with the nomination package provided to the review boards.

Checklist: Before you go any further

1. Have I filled out every section of the nomination form completely?

2. Have I clearly explained the Criteria (and Exceptions, if necessary) that apply to my property?

3. Have I followed all of the guidelines for formatting and style?

4. Have I used either The Chicago Manual of Style or the Society for American Archaeology's style guide for my citations and bibliography?


Continue to the next section: submitting the draft nomination