By Junior Digital Archivist Alyssa Voss
On May 6th, 1973, the first National Preservation Week began. Established by the National Trust of Historic Places, the week was meant to promote heritage tourism and showcase the social and economic benefits of historic preservation on the local, state, and national levels.
Donald Sheehan, the member who pitched the idea for the event, explained that “National Preservation Week is a means of relating local and state preservation progress to the national effort for the mutual benefit of both.” National Preservation Week became an annual event. Then in 2005, the National Trust extended the week-long celebration to the whole month of May, creating National Preservation Month.
Historic preservation is the act of preserving or protecting a building, object, or other artifacts of historical significance. In the United States, the preservation movement has a long and rich history. The preservation movement jump-started in the 1850s when the Mount Vernon Ladies Association saved George Washington’s homestead. A hallmark of the movement is the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which set up federal policies and acknowledged the importance of preserving the nation’s heritage.
Many people (generally those outside of the work itself) wonder why preservation is important and why it is celebrated. To put it simply, historic preservation allows us to understand where we came from and how the world as we know it came to be. It is an important way to pass on our understanding of the past world to future generations.
Celebrating preservation allows us to showcase the benefits and advantages that emerge from these preservation efforts and brings awareness to the labor currently taking place.
Preservation is not a monolith. There are many ways to participate and celebrate during Preservation Month. All over the country, various preservation organizations, historical societies, and businesses partake in and host events throughout the month. The National Trust has several events scheduled. On May 9th, the National Trust will announce this year’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Later in the month, the recipients of the Backing Historic Small Restaurants Grant Program will be announced as well. The grants will aid the restaurant owners in addressing the needs of their restaurant during these economic hardships.
Warren County, Missouri’s Picture Cave was honored on the 2022 list for its large array of Native American wall paintings. Check them out!
Preservation is more than just saving old buildings. It’s about preserving and telling the stories of those and what came before us, then passing those stories on while adding in a few of our own. You could begin saving those stories by digitizing your files. Whether it be your organization’s documents and photos or company’s history, every story is worth being told. Contact Anderson Archival today and let us help you get started preserving your collection.