The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Shaping National Preservation Policy

Public Outreach

Advancing public knowledge about the role of the federal government in historic preservation and the benefits of such public investment for modern society.

Educating the public about the benefits of preservation and the role of the federal government in promoting preservation has long been one of the core missions of the ACHP. The law establishing the ACHP (NHPA; Public Law 89-665) directed the agency, among other things, to “encourage, in cooperation with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and appropriate private agencies, public interest and participation in historic preservation,” and “encourage, in cooperation with appropriate public and private agencies and institutions, training and education in the field of historic preservation.” A later amendment clarified that the ACHP should also “inform and educate Federal agencies, State and local governments, Indian tribes, other nations and international organizations and private groups and individuals as to the Council’s authorized activities.”

Beginning in 1971, the ACHP prepared an annual printed report on its activities and historic preservation issues and made it available to the public. By the late 1970s, the reports were getting quite lengthy, and a number of the reports in the 1980s and 1990s included themed, extended written and photo essays on such subjects as preservation economics, conservation of historic towns and cities, rural preservation, and federal property management.  The reports also included annual and multi-year assessments of the National Historic Preservation Act, the national preservation program, and the challenges and opportunities facing U.S. historic preservation and the ACHP.

Beginning in the 1980s, the ACHP worked with the White House, the Department of the Interior, and others on two rounds of Presidential and National Historic Preservation Awards for the 20th and 25th anniversaries, respectively, of the 1966 NHPA. The first awards were presented in conjunction with the Interior Department’s Take Pride in America campaign, a national public awareness campaign designed to encourage the public to protect and use the natural, historical, and recreational resources of the public lands wisely. When the Preserve America Program was created, there were several additional years of Presidential Awards from 2004-2008, and recognition for federal preservation achievement and partnership activities were given by the ACHP Chairman or through partnerships with the National Trust and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In the early days of the ACHP, communications were handled by the executive director, his deputy, and an assistant. Special studies and publications were handled by a policy office and contract assistance. A separate Communications and Publications function, including the capability to produce high quality publications and handle press inquiries, was created in the 1980s. Annual reports and other information were regularly made available to the media, and public inquiries were addressed along with press outreach on major preservation cases, ACHP meetings, awards, and other activities of potential public interest.  In 2002, a Communications, Education, and Outreach office was created along with a parallel ACHP member committee.

Currently an ACHP website (www.achp.gov) provides extensive information to parties involved in historic preservation, including students, as well as the interested public. In addition, the ACHP has developed several social media outlets to share information and announcements in a timely manner.

Want to explore this topic further? Check out these original documents and interviews with key players from the ACHP archive!

Robert G. Stanton

Former Director, National Park Service, and Current Expert Member, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Over the course of my 35-year career with the National Park Service, I was privileged to interact frequently with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) which included on occasion serving as the Secretary of the Interior’s representative on the ACHP. The work of the ACHP is outstanding in promoting and providing guidance on the importance of preserving the nation’s historic resources. Read More

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

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