National Historic Preservation Act of 1966

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 was passed primarily to acknowledge the importance of protecting our nation’s heritage from rampant federal development. It was the triumph of more than a century of struggle by a grassroots movement of committed preservationists.

Some key elements from the Act:

  • Sets the federal policy for preserving our nation’s heritage
  • Establishes a federal-state and federal-tribal partnership
  • Establishes the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Programs
  • Mandates the selection of qualified State Historic Preservation Officers
  • Establishes the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
  • Charges Federal Agencies with responsible stewardship
  • Establishes the role of Certified Local Governments within the States

Download a full copy of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (52 pages, .pdf).

The Historic Preservation Act (abridged)

In 2014, the codified law for the National Historic Preservation Act was moved from Title 16 to Title 54. In the process, some text was changed and various provisions were re-ordered.  The preservation community and industry continues to use the original Section names when referring to key provisions o the original Act.

  • Section 2: (54 U.S.C. 300101)
    Sets the federal policy for historic preservation
  • Section 106: (54 U.S.C. 306108)
    Requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of its actions on historic properties by identifying historic properties, assessing adverse effects and resolving those adverse effects. The process is initiated by the federal agency, and includes comment and input from stakeholders at the local and State levels, as well as the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. For more about Section 106, click here.
  • Section 108:
    Authorizes the Historic Preservation Fund
  • Section 110: (54 U.S.C. 306101)
    Requires federal agencies to create historic preservation programs, designate a historic preservation officer and provide a process for nominating properties to the National Register.

Additionally, while the National Historic Preservation Act sets federal policy for historic preservation, the actual regulations can be found in 36 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 800 “Protection of Historic Properties. This provides guidelines on how to follow the policy set forth in the National Historic Preservation Act.