National Historic Landmark Program

The National Historic Landmark is a federal program whose purpose is to identify and protect exceptional cultural resources which are important to our nation’s history. Cultural resources are defined as districts, sites, buildings, structures, landscapes, and objects of historic importance. The intent of this program is to educate the people of the United States in understanding its rich historic legacy and to preserve these landmarks, which represent the nation’s major achievements, for future generations.

The National Historic Landmark Program was created by the U.S. Congress in 1935 because of public concern over the rapid destruction of the nation’s historic resources. In 1966, the U.S. Congress reorganized the National Historic Landmark program to include regional historic properties. It created a National Register of Historic Places---a listing of properties which are regional in significance and yet important to the nation (National Register) and those which are national in significance (National Historic Landmark). Currently, over 80,000 National Register properties and over 2,400 National Historic Landmarks are listed.

These federal legislations established rigorous certification for designating National Historic Landmarks. The main criteria are: the historic property must play a major part in American history and the property’s physical condition must retain a high degree of its historic fabric or integrity.

National Historic Landmarks are eligible to receive federal assistance and protection. They are monitored by the Department of Interior, and can be removed from the program if historic integrity is destroyed or seriously compromised.

Information Sources on National Historic Landmarks

diamond National Historic Landmarks Program
Website presents official information and current activities.

diamond 36 CFR Part 65 (National Historic Landmarks)
Federal regulations for certification, technical support, and removal of National Historic Landmarks.

National Park Service (cultural and historic resources)
diamondDescribes the United States' historic preservation program.

Preparing National Historic Landmark Nominations
Sources recommended by Christopher Hetzel, Acting Chief of the Register and National Historic Landmarks Program

diamondNHL Program Nomination Process
Overview in preparing a National Historic Landmark nomination.

diamondNHL Bulletin
Detailed procedures in writing a National Historic Landmark nomination.

diamond National Register/National Historic Landmark Collections
The National Archives contains documents (such as correspondence) relating to the preparation of individual National Landmark nominations.

diamondThe above National Archives Collections sorted by state


Updated January 2019