Tomorrow’s Heritage So Rich: A Reading List

By Forum Online posted 09-01-2016 16:08


With the end of summer quickly approaching, we have kicked off our annual PastForward reading lists! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be providing a curated selection of reports, articles, and videos to prep you for our annual conference. We hope that they’ll spark discussions come November 15–18, when PastForward arrives in Houston, Texas. Haven’t registered yet? Don’t forget that rates go up after September 15!

Over the course of the last year, the preservation community has been reflecting on the milestone anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. For 50 years the Act has served as the foundation for the modern historic preservation movement, providing safeguards and tools for the protection of historic places across the country.

This year at PastFoward, we are asking attendees to look back and then look forward. The materials on this reading list cover not only the inception and evolution of the Act and the modern preservation movement but also ideas and recommendations for the future of historic preservation.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

One of the big events at PastForward will be a special convening on the Future of Historic Preservation. We’ll be holding an interactive work session based on key findings and common themes that have emerged from a series of meetings among preservationists and allies held during the past year to plan the next 50 years of historic preservation. Based on this session, the National Trust will pull together recommendations for the future the movement. Read the draft recommendations that will be discussed at PastForward.

No discussion of the National Historic Preservation Act can omit the seminal book With Heritage So Rich. Written in 1966 this volume of essays, poetry, photography, and policy recommendations laid the foundation for the passage of the Act later that year and jumpstarted the present incarnation of our movement. The book was a culmination of many meetings and high-level discussions about the future of preservation, that began three years earlier in Williamsburg, Virginia, at a national conference cosponsored by Colonial Williamsburg and the National Trust for Historic Preservation .

Also read this resolution on the anniversary of the Act from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

PastForward 2016 won’t be the first time that preservationists have gathered to look at the past and future of historic preservation. Ten years ago a group of preservation organizations led by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) convened at the Preserve America Summit to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Act. The report published following this meeting identified key ideas for charting the future of the national preservation program: identifying historic properties, enhancing stewardship, sustaining communities, educating citizens, and providing leadership. Each of these ideas included recommendations for immediate action and today, 10 years later, they figure prominently in preservation conversations.

For the 50th anniversary of the act, ACHP is again developing policy recommendations to identify the challenges and opportunities facing the national preservation movement. An interactive session at PastForward will provide attendees the opportunity to discuss these recommendations—and the strategies for implementing them beyond 2016, in partnership with the incoming presidential administration and Congress.

Other retrospectives to check out include:

The National Historic Preservation Program Today (Jackson Report, 1976 )
The National Historic Preservation Act and the National Park Service: A History (1986)
A Model Partnership: 30th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (CRM Journal, 1996 )

Also in anticipation of this year’s anniversary, the National Council on Public History published a series of essays re-examining past articles from their journal, The Public Historian. Each essay discussed the significance of an article and relates it to contemporary conversations in historic preservation.

Can historians help planners make better futures? (January 2015)
An uneasy fit: History in historic preservation (February 2015)
Above ground, below ground, on the ground: CRM in practice (March 2015)
Harvesting the romance of the past (April 2015)
Building the public trust: Preservation’s middle age? (May 2015)
Robert M. Utley: Founder of the National Historic Preservation Program (July 2015)
Historic preservation shines a light on a dark past (July 2015)
The fifty-year stumbling block (September 2015)
Trashy history: Infrastructure as historic property (October 2015)
Pennsylvania’s hallowed ground: A role for historic preservation (November 2015)
Fighting for a better memorial? (December 2015)
I, Too, Sing America: Integrating the voices of all Americans in historic preservation (January 2016)

The Act is also the focal point of a new collection of essays called Bending the Future: 50 Ideas for the next 50 Years, edited by Max Page and Marla R. Miller, professors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. National Trust Chief of Preservation David J. Brown reviewed the book, saying:

Bending the Future features visions of the next five decades from some of the nation’s leading preservation professionals, historians, scholars, activists, and journalists. The editors invited “provocations,” and they certainly received a few. But what is almost universal across these short essays are thoughtful and insightful examinations of the roots of preservation and of where those foundations can take us in the future.

A Global Perspective

One of the central themes emerging in a forward-looking historic preservation movement is the importance of thinking about our work globally. PastForward 2016 attendees will think about historic preservation in the United States from an international perspective. Where do we fit within broader discussions of urbanization? What lessons can we learn from the global practice of heritage conservation?

Right before our conference in November, countries from across the globe will gather in Ecuador for Habitat III – the United Nations [UN] Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. As we discuss in our previous reading list, the idea of livability and affordability is a critical theme for the future of preservation. You can read the UN’s New Urban Agenda to see where historic preservation fits into the conversation. Read this blog post from Donovan Rypkema about Habitat III

US/ICOMOS and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation have been working hard on a project they call “With a World of Heritage So Rich: Lessons from Across the Globe for US Historic Preservation in its Second 50 Years.” On their site you can read a series of essays on the future of preservation from what they are calling a virtual Rains Committee (named after the group who published With Heritage So Rich).

Don’t forget to also check out the US/ICOMOS Knowledge Exchange, launched as the organization marked its own 50th anniversary. This initiative allows virtual communities of heritage practitioners to share international cultural resources knowledge on specific themes.

Resources From Forum (Open to All)

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