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Historic Contexts Overview 


Historic contexts help assess the significance of a property by determining if a property represents a significant part of history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture of a geographical area. In order to decide whether a property is significant within its historic context, the following five things must be determined:

  • The facet of prehistory or history of the local area, State, or the nation that the property represents;
  • Whether that facet of prehistory or history is significant;
  • Whether it is a type of property that has relevance and importance in illustrating the historic context;
  • How the property illustrates that history; and finally
  • Whether the property possesses the physical features necessary to convey the aspect of prehistory or history with which it is associated.

Contexts must be developed for evaluating and nominating any property to the National Register of Historic Places.

For purposes of this website, historic contexts related to Pennsylvania's historic properties are organized by National Register Areas of Significance. Some historic contexts have been formally approved by the National Park Service and other are white papers or research papers that serve as guidance documents. 

Historic contexts and research papers are available as links on this website and as National Register nominations or reports in PA-SHARE. For instructions for searching in PA-SHARE, see Searching for Resources and Other Information in PA-SHARE.   The effort to add context documents to PA-SHARE and the PHMC website is ongoing so we encourage you to check back periodically for newly added information.


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