Reference Materials

Preservation guides, manuals, and briefs.

Planning a preservation project can be a daunting task. In order to help demystify the process, we have compiled a handy guide to many of the reference materials to which our preservation experts commonly refer. These documents provide the best practices for the preservation of everything from historic properties to museum collections, as well as historic construction manuals.

Historic Preservation

The documents in this section represent the gold standard for the preservation of Historic Structures as put forth by the Secretary of the Interior and National Park Service. If you’re looking for information on Nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, Federal Tax Credit Program, or other resources, please reference the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office.

The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are common-sense historic preservation principles in non-technical language. They promote historic preservation best practices to protect our nation's irreplaceable cultural resources. There are four Treatment categories: Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration and Reconstruction. Each Treatment type has from eight (8) to ten (10) Standards. Under each type of treatment there are Guidelines that give recommendations on what to do and what to avoid for a treatment. The Guidelines are helpful when planning an historic preservation project.

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There are currently fifty (50) Preservation Briefs. They are short Technical Papers with illustrations, ranging from eight (8) to twelve (12) pages in length, on specific preservation topics. They include such subjects as roofing, repair of wooden windows, and the restoration of historic porches. The Briefs provide a more in-depth and detailed discussion of solutions for specific preservation topics than the more general Guidelines discussed above.

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The Tech Notes are designed to provide practical information on traditional and innovative techniques for successfully maintaining and preserving cultural resources. They cover topics like Stabilization and Repair of a Historic Terra Cotta Cornice and Non-destructive Evaluation Techniques for Masonry Construction. These cover even more specific methods than the technical briefs above.

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The website allows the user the ability to seek out and find properties in Idaho that are on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s cultural resources deemed worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, The National Register is part of a program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic resources. The National Register is maintained by the National Park Service under the Secretary of the Interior. In Idaho, it is administered by the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office, a division of the Idaho State Historical Society.
  • The site is composed of two sections. The first is a listing of properties within each county in Idaho. Locate the county, find a particular property, click on the property and The National Register form for that property will open.
  • The second section is an interactive digital map of the state. To locate a property requires a process of progressively narrowing down a search through a series of blue colored bubbles on a map of Idaho. One must methodically select an ever-smaller area of the state to locate a property. It takes patience but allows the user to pinpoint a property by its geographic location in the state.

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Construction Manuals & Technical Specification References

This is a list of publications commonly referenced by preservationists when working with historic materials and structures. These manuals cover structures built from the 1840s to 1950s.

By Charles Dwyer, 1856

With the annexation of Texas (1845), the Mexican War (1846-1848), and the Oregon Treaty (1846) and the subsequent creation of the Oregon Territory (1848), the United States increased in size by 70%. To aid the westward migration of the 19th century, building manuals were produced for the emigrants, which contained chapters on log cabins, studless vertical board construction (then known as “balloon construction”), basic stud framing (what we now call “balloon framing”), sod, and adobe. One of the most prominent of these building manuals was Charles Dwyer’s The Economic Cottage Builder: Cottages for Men of Small Means (1856). Within this treatise, Dwyer describes the means and methods of the various types of simple construction. Many of the first buildings (houses, churches, commercial buildings) by the emigrants were what Dwyer called “Balloon” construction which can be found in many early settlement communities throughout the newly acquired territories.

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by F. E. Kidder, Two volumes, Part I: Mason’s Work. Part II: Carpenter’s Work, 1898

These two volumes became the standard references for much of the architectural profession for the next three decades (1860-1890s). The information in the books is primarily presented in the form of text (90%), with some graphic illustrations (10%). It requires a comprehensive reading of the text to understand the details of the means and methods for the various types of construction. Extremely thorough, these two volumes are excellent resources for early 20th century construction despite their technicality.

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The book provides graphic Illustrations of many construction details from the 1920’s to the early 1930’s. It is a reference guide for historic buildings of the period. The publication was revolutionary as the book is 98% graphic illustrations with detailed notes of each component of a particular assembly. Modest written commentaries for clarification are interspersed when necessary, but this book is not textural. In addition to its visual presentation of standard construction assemblies, it also provides standards on dimensions as assembly components were now being mass manufactured. For the builder or architect, it meant details could be picked and chosen to create a complete structure.

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This volume carries the Graphic Standards into Mid-Century Modern design. It details the new norms for curtain walls, structural glass, metal windows, and such topics as Commercial Kitchen and Restaurant Planning. The details give insight to the world of the 1950’s. The 1956 Standards greatly expand the depth of illustrations provided to the architectural profession. This volume should be consulted if your preservation program is working with Mid-Century Modern buildings.

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The IEBC addresses special code considerations for historic buildings. These codes provide specific instances when accommodations may be made for historic buildings that would otherwise fail to meet contemporary standards. It includes such provisions as historic lath and plaster in good condition can substitute for sheetrock to obtain a one-hour fire rating. Other provisions allow historic railings and guard rails to remain in place. These and many more provisions allow a great deal of historic fabric to be retained while still being safe and operable. It is recommended that project planners consult with the local building authority early in the planning process.

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The General Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for the care and maintenance of all Federal buildings, which includes numerous historic structures. The GSA material at this website is specific to historic structures and is an excellent resource for an in-depth understanding of historic preservation treatments. It is well organized and highly technical in their specifications. The specifications are organized on the Construction Specification Institute (CSI) and will be quite familiar to architects and engineers.  The value to Idaho Heritage Trust grantees is the inclusion of the detailed procedures and materials used in a preservation treatment. These can be used as a point of discussion with a contractor on what materials to use and the methods for a repair. They will also be helpful to include in any grant application.

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Historic Cemetery Preservation

Historic cemeteries present a particular challenge for preservationists. These resources provide practical and inventive means to combat the constant exposure to the elements, vandalism, and general neglect.

The Oregon State Historic Preservation Office has produced a series of Heritage Bulletins that provide technical information. This bulletin addresses the care, preservation, and treatment for Historic Cemeteries. It provides information on such topics as How to clean Cemetery Markers, the issue of vandalism, and ways to protect a historic cemetery. The bulletin material is an invaluable resource in caring for an historic cemetery.

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IHT holds periodic seminars with hands-on demonstrations on cemetery and gravesite care. These videos are pulled from our most recent demonstration and provide a helpful visualization of the principles written about by the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office bulletins. 

Museum Management and Collection Care

These are resources for managing both museum and private collections, as well as the proper treatment and care of collected items.

The American Society for State and Local History Resource Center contains Technical Leaflets addressing Museum management and administration, interpretation, research practices, and preservation techniques. Examples include Choosing a Collection Management System to 101 ideas for New Revenue at History Organizations.

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The American Society for State and Local History has Technical Leaflets on the general care of objects in museum or private collections. The American Institute for Conservation website has practical guides on the care of artifacts for those interested in doing it themselves. However, there are circumstances where museum or private collections need the assistance of a professional conservator trained in the care of special artifacts. The above website also has a system on how to find a conservator in your area. It is easy to use and locates conservators by mailing zip codes. Each conservator will list their specialty, though there may not be a conservator of the needed specialty in your state.

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Archaeology is a sensitive discipline in that archaeological collections are considered part of our national heritage and therefore subject to very stringent regulation. Please consult these regulations and proper governing bodies before embarking on any project of archaeological significance.

  • Collecting archaeological artifacts on Federal, Native American, or State land is strictly prohibited. Any artifact discovered on these lands must not be disturbed and left in place. If artifacts are discovered on private lands, they are the property of the landowner.
  • Those wishing to conduct archaeological studies on Federal or State lands must apply and get a permit for the work. Permits for Federal lands must be obtained from the agency managing the particular site. These include but are not limited to the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For State lands, a permit is required and must be obtained from the State Archaeologist in the State Historic Preservation Office in Boise. The State Archaeologist can be contacted at (208)334-3861.
  • There is a special condition if a grave site is discovered. In these instances, the person must call the local sheriff, who in turn will notify the Coroner and the State Archaeologist. Forensic examination of the remains and any funerary objects will be conducted to determine the ethnicity. If the remains are Native American, culturally affiliated tribes will be called and the remains retuned for interment. This also applies if the remains are Native Hawaiian. If the remains are not Native American or Hawaiian, they will be identified and placed in the State Archaeological Collection.

This page explains in detail the reasons behind these regulations, as well as providing links for further information and ways you can responsibly proceed with collecting and analyzing archaeological sites and artifacts.

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This compendium put together by the National Parks Service links to resources covering everything from applicable laws governing archaeology to best practices in the treatment and handling of artefacts from specific types of sites to the management of archaeological collections.

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Here you will find detailed information on the documents and processes required for requesting an archaeological survey of your site. There is also a database of archaeological sites throughout the state, and an incredibly detailed PDF outlining the ISHS procedures and guidelines for their consultations.

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The IAS supports and promotes archaeological endeavors throughout the state. Their semi-annual peer-reviewed journal, Idaho Archaeologist, is an excellent resource for keeping up on archaeological concerns. They also put on an annual conference and archaeology fair if you are curious in learning more.

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Technical Assistance

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View a comprehensive list of IHT’s projects and an interactive map of historic sites across Idaho.

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