Wikipedia:WikiProject National Register of Historic Places/Style guide

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The National Register of Historic Places WikiProject's style guide is intended to apply to all articles within the project's scope. In other words, it applies to all articles and lists of articles related to sites, districts, places, contributing properties, parks, structures, etc. that are or were at one time listed on or associated with the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). While the recommendations presented here are well-suited for the vast majority of NRHP articles, some articles may be exempt from these conventions. Each article should be discussed individually, and a consensus should be built around what is best for that article or group of articles at that time.

Naming conventions[edit]

Most NRHP articles are created by clicking on redlinks in the state, county, city, or other lists of sites listed on the register (such as National Register of Historic Places listings in Oregon, National Register of Historic Places listings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or National Register of Historic Places listings in Manhattan below 14th Street). In these lists, the official name given by the NRHP program should be used.

If there is an article already named the official title of the NRHP in question, disambiguation may be required. For instance, there are many buildings on the National Register with the official name "First Baptist Church". In cases like this, it is common practice to append "(City, State)" to the official title to distinguish it from all the other First Baptist Churches. A list of all sites named "First Baptist Church" can be found at the First Baptist Church article, while individual church's articles are found at their disambiguated names (e.g. First Baptist Church (Columbia, South Carolina)).

This does not mean, however, that the title of an article about a property listed on the NRHP should always be the name listed on the National Register. Article naming is guided by Wikipedia:Naming conventions. That Wikipedia policy indicates that the article title should be the most recognizable name to the greatest number of English speakers. Accordingly, sometimes the NRHP name for a site will not be the name of the article. For example, a building may now be known by a different name than it had when it was listed on the NRHP. If the article about a site listed on the NRHP has a different name than appears on the National Register, a page with the NRHP name should be created to redirect to the article.

Lists of NRHP listings by state, county, and city list use the names that are listed on the National Register. Links on these lists point to a page with the NRHP name of the site, even if that page is a redirect. For example, "Greenwich Village Historic District" (the official NRHP name) is listed on the NRHP as a historic district. The article about the district is named Greenwich Village. The list National Register of Historic Places listings in Manhattan below 14th Street links to Greenwich Village Historic District because that is the official NRHP name, even though it is a redirect to Greenwich Village.

Avoid abbreviations for Street (St.), Road (Rd.), etc., and two-character state abbreviations in article titles, even if the name given by the NRHP includes the abbreviation. Also, arrange NRHP titles in the most readable order (for example "Hall, James, Office" should be changed to "James Hall Office").

One exception to these naming conventions are boundary increases, usually pertaining to districts. If an NRHP listing's area is increased to include more historic structures or sites, the increase receives a separate reference number and separate listing on the National Register while retaining the old listing as well. In effect, the district or structure is listed on the register multiple times with different areas. Though the boundary increase receives its own official name and reference number and Elkman's tool outputs two separate infoboxes, it is common practice to forego the redirecting system explained above and simply combine the boundary increase listing in the state, county, or other list with the original listing. For example, Wick Park Historic District was originally listed on the NRHP in 1990, and a boundary increase was listed in 2001. The list of National Register of Historic Places listings in Mahoning County, Ohio contains one entry for the district, combining the original listing and the boundary increase.

Lead Section[edit]

Infobox[edit]

A sample NRHP infobox
AMEX.jpg
The American Stock Exchange
Location 86 Trinity Pl, Lower Manhattan, New York City, New York
Coordinates 40°42′31″N 74°00′45″W / 40.70861°N 74.01250°W / 40.70861; -74.01250
Built 1921, expanded in 1931
Architectural style Art Deco
Governing body NYSE Euronext
NRHP Reference # 78001867
Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 2, 1978
Designated NHL June 2, 1978

The first element in an NRHP article usually should be an infobox. In most cases, {{Infobox NRHP}} should be transcluded at the top of the page, but this is not a strict requirement. A useful tool for gathering information to put in the infobox is the Elkman NRHP infobox generator, created by User:Elkman, a member of this project. This tool will create an infobox based on a the National Register Information System (NRIS) database as of March 13, 2009. For sites that have been listed after that date, an infobox must be built manually.

To use the tool, simply type in the name of the site (using the official NRHP name is usually best) and click "Submit". The tool may return more than one result, so make sure that you pick the right one based on the location or other information unique to the property for which you are searching. If the search returns too many results, you may want to limit the tool to searching only a specific state or territory by using the drop down box provided. If the search returns no results, try searching for only part of the name or perhaps rearranging names (sometimes "Washington, George" will return a result but "George Washington" will not). If the NRHP reference number is known, there is also a search box for that. Each reference number is tied to only one listing, so the infobox returned should be the one you are looking for.

In the case of a boundary increase (see above), a single site is listed twice (with different areas) and thus has two reference numbers. Though Elkman's tool will output two infoboxes, the editor should attempt to merge the information into a single infobox. To do this, use the boundary increase features of the infobox (seen in its documentation), as in Wick Park Historic District. If there are any other fields that differ between the original and the increase such as architect name or architectural style, the editor may decide to differentiate the association with original or increased areas (e.g., to list something like: "Architect: Name1 (original), Name2 (increase)"), or to edit a combined entry without differentiation (e.g., "Architect: Name1 and Name2").

While Elkman's tool provides a lot of information directly from the NRIS, it should always be double checked against other reliable sources for accuracy. The NRIS, while extremely valuable to this project, is not free of error. The NRIS database does not distinguish between an architect and a contractor/builder, for instance. Any error (except coordinate errors; see below) found in the NRIS data given by Elkman's tool should be reported on this page under the appropriate heading. These reports are collected and forwarded to the NPS periodically.

After copying the infobox to the top of the article, other information such as images, local designations (state, city, or other registers), and visitation numbers can be added to it. For a detailed explanation of how to use the infobox, see its documentation. The title of the infobox (the | name = parameter) should be the same as the official NRHP name given by the NRIS database. Similar to the name of the article, all abbreviations such as St., Ave., Rd., etc. should be expanded in the infobox, and the name should be arranged in the most readable order (instead of "Hall, James, Office", type "James Hall Office"). If, however, the site is also a National Historic Landmark and the NHL program name for the site is different than the NRHP program name for it, then the NRHP infobox name should show the NHL name.

If there is already another infobox in the article -- a lighthouse, bridge, or other special box -- it may be desirable to use the "embed" feature of the NRHP infobox to add it to the end of the existing infobox. For an explanation of how to do this, click here. When combining infoboxes, it is best to strip out duplicated information such as coordinates, location, and other information not specific to the NRHP listing. Sometimes it may even be desirable to keep the NRHP infobox separate from the main infobox on the page. If only a certain part of a park or district (like a single statue or monument in a larger area) is listed on the NRHP, it is usually better to include the infobox in the section that talks about the NRHP listing specifically rather than at the top of the article.

Coordinates[edit]

Latitude-longitude coordinates for individual NRHP listings are usually provided by the NRIS and thus are included in Elkman's infobox output. These coordinates not only provide regional information to readers but also allow a pushpin map to be displayed in the infobox, and they create a link to several interactive maps including Google Maps, Bing Maps, and various sites which show US Geological Survey quadrangles.

Though the NRIS coordinates give a general idea of where the site is, they usually require some correction to be spot on. Many NRIS coordinates were recorded using the North American Datum of 1927. The United States (and most of the world) is now using the World Geodetic System 84. The latter better reflects the shape of the earth, but the change included a change in the baselines for coordinates. For more information about coordinate errors, see Wikipedia:WikiProject National Register of Historic Places/Editor help#Coordinates issues.

In many cases, the editor can check the coordinates by simply clicking on the link that appears in the infobox. For example,

but in other cases, it's not so easy

In the latter case, if a photograph of the site is available, sometimes you can match the photograph to Google Street View or Bing Birdseye View to identify the correct building. Do not, however, use street numbers without additional information; they are rarely sufficiently accurate.

It is not necessary to report coordinate errors to the project. For an explanation of how to find more accurate coordinates, click here. For districts or other large areas or structures, don't be over-precise. One second (1" = ~.0003°) is about 100 feet (31 m) of latitude; anything more precise is simply overkill. For individual buildings or small monuments, however, it is customary to use one, or perhaps two, decimal places in order to allow readers to identify structures on Google Maps or other available services.

NRIS gives coordinates in degrees, minutes, and seconds (DMS format). The NRHP infobox allows for input and display in either DMS or decimal format. See Template:Infobox NRHP/doc#Coordinates for documentation and examples.

Opening paragraph[edit]

The opening, or lead section, of the article should contain the name of the article, along with other common names in bold text. If the article name differs from the official NRHP name, the NRHP name should appear as one of the bolded alternative names. The lead section should include a brief overview of the topic, including mention of the NRHP listing. For a detailed overview of how to write the opening section, see MOS:INTRO.

Some typical NRHP leads:

  • Old North Church: Old North Church (officially known as Christ Church in the City of Boston), at 193 Salem Street, in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts, is the location from which the famous "One if by land, and two if by sea" signal is said to have been sent.

Body of the article[edit]

If an article is about an NRHP listing, make sure to keep the information relevant to the NRHP itself. While some detail about historical context or surrounding areas is obviously necessary (such as an overview of William Faulkner's life in the Rowan Oak article), the article should mainly focus on the NRHP listing itself. Make use of wikilinks and possibly the {{seealso}} or {{main}} templates to guide readers to more information in these cases.

General practice is usually to include a "History" heading wherein most of the information from the NRHP/NHL document(s) is covered. Since many properties were listed on the NRHP a long time ago – some as early as the 1960s – most of the information in the official documents may be outdated. A section explaining the property's status or relevance today is sometimes included as well. While there is no concrete outline that applies to every article and headings may vary depending on the article, they should generally follow a chronological order with the most recent information closer to the bottom of the body section.

For resources to find information to add to an article about an NRHP listing, see the Resources page.

Historic districts[edit]

Historic district articles are generally harder than articles about individual buildings to develop to a finished degree. About 20 good examples of HD articles are mentioned at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject National Register of Historic Places/Archive 38#Good historic district article examples; Russian Village District in CA is another suggested one. Photos for all or many or some of the buildings in a district are welcome, to be included directly in an article or included in a commons category specific to the district (to be linked by {{commons category-inline}} or otherwise, from the article).

Historic District articles may cover all of the contributing properties in the district or each contributing property may have its own article. It is desirable to include a general explanation of the cohesiveness of the properties in the district. (Why were these properties included? Why were the non-contributing properties in the district excluded? etc.) Make sure that for district articles, which frequently overlap with city, community, or downtown articles, a clear distinction is made between what the NRHP listed district's borders are (they are usually given in the NRHP nomination form, sometimes with maps) and any present-day borders that may exist. An NRHP district does not always require its own article as there may be a high degree of overlap with present-day communities. In cases such as this, it is desirable to include the NRHP infobox on the community's article even if it talks about an area larger than the NRHP listing. A heading in the article may be devoted to the NRHP listing while the rest of the article talks about the remaining area in the community.

References[edit]

A "References" header should be added after the body of the article, using the following code:

==References==
{{Reflist}}

NRIS reference[edit]

The National Register Information System (NRIS) is cited in the Elkman output, but if the Elkman tool is not used, the reference to the NRIS can be made using the {{NRISref}} template. Full information about the template parameters can be found at this template's documentation page. Templates used in lists, Elkman's generator, and nearly all project members use the reference name "nris" for the NRIS referece, so it makes future editing and additions easier if you do the same.

NRHP/NHL nomination form[edit]

If the NRHP or NHL nomination form is used in the article, there are several suggested reference formats, listed below:

  • When the text and/or photos documents are not available online, but received as a hard copy from the National Park Service:
NRHP nomination form
<ref name="nrhpnom">{{cite document
|author=_____Author_____
|date=_____Date entered into NRIS_____
|work=National Register of Historic Places
|title=NRHP Nomination:_____Name_____ (including accompanying _____# of photos_____ photos, from _____Year(s)_____)
|publisher=National Park Service}}</ref>
where the author of the form is listed in section 11 ("Form Prepared By") of the document, the date the form was entered into the NRIS is shown at the top right corner of the first page, the name of the site is in section 1 ("Name") of the document, and the year photos were taken appears after each photo.
NHL nomination form
<ref name="nhlnom">{{cite document
|author=_____Author_____
|date=_____Date entered into NRIS_____
|work=National Register of Historic Places
|title=NHL Nomination:_____Name_____ (including accompanying _____# of photos_____ photos, from _____Year(s)_____)
|publisher=National Park Service}}</ref>
where the locations of the information are the same as in the NRHP form.
  • When two separate PDFs of text and of photos are available online:
NRHP nomination form
<ref name="nrhpnom">{{cite document
|url=http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/_____Reference number_____.pdf
|format=pdf
|title=National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: _____Name_____
|author=_____Author_____
|date=_____Date published_____
|publisher=National Park Service}}
{{cite document
|url=http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/_____Reference number_____.pdf 
|format=pdf
|title=Accompanying _____# of photos_____ photos, from _____year(s)_____.
|work=National Register of Historic Places Inventory}}</ref>
where the reference number is given in the NRIS database, the author of the form is listed in section 11 ("Form Prepared By") of the document, the date the form was entered into the NRIS is shown at the top right corner of the first page, the name of the site is in section 1 ("Name") of the document, and the year photos were taken appears after each photo.
NHL nomination form
<ref name="nhlnom">{{cite document
|url=http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/_____Reference number_____.pdf
|format=pdf
|title=National Historic Landmark Nomination: _____Name_____
|author=_____Author_____
|date=_____Date published_____
|publisher=National Park Service}}
{{cite document
|url=http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Photos/_____Reference number_____.pdf
|format=pdf
|title=Accompanying _____# of photos_____ photos, from _____year(s)_____.
|work=National Register of Historic Places Inventory}}</ref>
where the locations of the information are the same as in the NRHP form.
  • When only PDF of text is available:
NRHP nomination form
<ref name="nrhpnom">{{cite document
|url=http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/_____Reference number_____.pdf
|format=pdf
|title=National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: _____Name_____
|author=_____Author_____
|date=_____Date published_____
|publisher=National Park Service}}</ref>
where the reference number is given in the NRIS database, the author of the form is listed in section 11 ("Form Prepared By") of the document, the date the form was entered into the NRIS is shown at the top right corner of the first page, the name of the site is in section 1 ("Name") of the document, and the year photos were taken appears after each photo.
NHL nomination form
<ref name="nhlnom">{{cite document
|url=http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/_____Reference number_____.pdf
|format=pdf
|title=National Historic Landmark Nomination: _____Name_____
|author=_____Author_____
|date=_____Date published_____
|publisher=National Park Service}}</ref>
where the locations of the information are the same as in the NRHP form.

NHL summary page[edit]

If the summary page on the NHL search site is used, the reference should appear as follows:

<ref name="nhlsum">{{cite web
|url=_____URL of summary page_____
|title=_____Name of NHL___
|date=_____Designation date_____
|work=National Historic Landmark summary listing
|publisher=National Park Service}}</ref>

where the URL is shown in your browser's address bar, the name of the NHL appears in large font at the top of the summary page, and the designation date appears in the "Statement of Significance" section ("as of designation - date").

Templates[edit]

{{National Register of Historic Places}} or other related regional templates (found here) should be added near the bottom of the article. The most region-specific template available for an NRHP article is the most desirable. These templates provide readers links to other properties or lists of properties on the NRHP and allow them to go quickly between articles if desired. The national template is shown below:

State-specific stub templates should be added to stubs (i.e. {{SouthCarolina-NRHP-stub}}) to aid in expanding them. These stub templates place stub articles into categories that are watched by members of the WikiProject, and they have a better chance of being expanded into longer, more detailed articles if these templates are included at the bottom of the article. The national stub category, {{NRHP-stub}}, is shown below:

Categories[edit]

A subcategory (perhaps many levels down) of Category:National Register of Historic Places should be present, but do not add parent or grandparent categories if a more refined one is accurate. (e.g. if an article is in Category:Central Park West Historic District, don't also put it in Category:National Register of Historic Places in New York, since the entire former category is within the latter). Add as many other categories that fit. Some categories that are common for RHP are:

  • [[Category:Houses in ''state'']]
  • [[Category:Registered Historic Places of religious function]]
  • [[Category:''yyyy'' ships]]
  • [[Category:''X'' County]]
  • [[Category:Buildings and structures in ''city, state'']]
  • [[Category:Buildings and structures completed in ''Year'']]
    • [[Category:Bridges completed in ''Year'']]
    • [[Category:Houses completed in ''Year'']]
    • [[Category:Religious buildings completed in ''Year'']]
    • [[Category:School buildings completed in ''Year'']]
    • [[Category:Tunnels completed in ''Year'']]
  • [[Category:Historic house museums]]
  • [[Category:Archaeological sites in ''state'']]
  • etc. Try to find as many appropriate ones as possible, without any redundant parent categories.

Talk page[edit]

Add {{WikiProject National Register of Historic Places}} on the talk page. It is useful to assess your work according to the NRHP quality scale and the importance scale by adding "| class = assessment | importance = importance" to the WikiProject template. The talk page template is shown below:

WikiProject National Register of Historic Places (Rated NA-class)
WikiProject icon This page is within the scope of WikiProject National Register of Historic Places, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of U.S. historic sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 NA  This page does not require a rating on the project's quality scale.
 

It is also generally helpful to add the article to a state WikiProject such as {{WikiProject New York}} or {{WikiProject Ohio}}. Many of these WikiProjects also have quality rating scales (some specific to the projects) and even importance scales, ranging from low to high. An example of a state's importance scale can be found at WikiProject New York.

Other templates related to the article's subject can also be added. For example, a stub article on a state park in Alaska where archaeological excavation of Native American dwellings is being conducted can have:

Some other common talk page templates are:

Show off your work[edit]

Add new or improved articles (or new pictures) to the top of the New articles and pictures section of the project homepage. Any new articles that have an interesting or unusual fact in them should be suggested for the Did you know? box of the Main Page. Consider nominating any particularly striking pictures as featured pictures, either here or on WikiCommons, wherever they are stored.

Congratulations! You have just created your first article about a site listed on the National Register of Historic Places! Feel free to write about other sites in which you are interested, or possibly help out with the project's to-do list. For any further questions, please refer to the project talk page for assistance. Thanks for helping out!