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 and are intended to serve as guidance documents. Context documents are also accessible by searching "Archaeological and Historic Survey" reports through the Ask ReGIS function of the Cultural Resources Geographic Information System. The effort to add context documents to the CRGIS and PHMC web pages is ongoing so we encourage you to check back periodically for newly added information.