Historic Contexts

The significance of a historic property can be judged and explained only when it is evaluated within its historic context.  Historic contexts are those patterns, themes, or trends in history by which a specific occurrence, property, or site is understood and its meaning (and ultimately its significance) within prehistory or history is made clear.

In order to decide whether a property is significant within its historic context, the following five things must be determined:

1. The facet of prehistory or history of the local area, State, or the nation that the property represents;
2. Whether that facet of prehistory or history is significant;
3. Whether it is a type of property that has relevance and importance in illustrating the historic context;
4. How the property illustrates that history; and finally
5. 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.  Please use the Bureau for Historic Preservation's guidelines for How to Prepare a Historic Context (PDF).

The following is a working list of Pennsylvania multiple and thematic resource property documentation through 2010 accepted by or listed in the National Register of Historic Places. One-third of properties listed in the National Register have been submitted under a multiple or thematic context. Contexts have been developed for the following themes in Pennsylvania history:

Adams County Properties Associated with the Battle of Gettysburg MPS
African American Churches of Philadelphia, 1787-1949 MPS (PDF 276 KB)
Agricultural Resources of Pennsylvania, c1700-1960
Allegheny County Owned River Bridges TR
Allegheny Portage Railroad MPS
Allegheny River Navigation System MPS (PDF, 7 MB)
Aluminum Industry Resources of Southwestern Pennsylvania MPS (PDF, 5 MB)
Anthracite-Related Resources of Northeastern Pennsylvania MPS (PDF, 10 MB)
Bedford County Covered Bridges TR
Berks County Covered Bridges TR
Bituminous Coal and Coke Resources of Pennsylvania MPS (PDF, 34 MB)
Civil War Era National Cemeteries MPS
Covered Bridges of Adams, Cumberland, and Perry Counties TR
Covered Bridges of Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming Counties TR
Covered Bridges of Chester County TR
Covered Bridges of Columbia and Montour Counties TR
Covered Bridges of Erie County TR
Covered Bridges of Indiana County TR
Covered Bridges of Juniata and Synder Counties TR
Covered Bridges of Lancaster County TR
Covered Bridges of Northumberland County TR
Covered Bridges of Somerset County TR
Covered Bridges of Washington and Greene Counties TR
Covered Bridges of the Delaware River Watershed TR
East Fallowfield Township MRA
Embreeville Historic District
Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) Architecture in Pennsylvania State Parks: 1933--1942, TR
Farms in Berks County MPS (PDF, 3 MB)
Four Public Squares of Philadelphia TR
Greensboro--New Geneva MPS
Gristmills in Berks County MPS (PDF, 3 MB)
Highway Bridges Owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation TR
Historic Agricultural Resources of Pennsylvania
Historic Educational Resources of Pennsylvania
Historic Farming Resources of Lancaster County MPS (PDF, 7 MB)
Industrial Resources of Huntingdon County, 1780--1939 MPS (PDF, 6 MB)
Iron and Steel Resources of Pennsylvania MPS (PDF, 13 MB)
Lawrence County Covered Bridges TR
Lincoln Highway Corridor Historic Resources:Franklin to Westmoreland Counties MPS (PDF,3  MB)
New Hope MRA
National Road in Pennsylvania MPS (PDF, 2 MB)
Oil Industry Resources in Western Pennsylvania MPS (PDF, 4 MB)
Pennsylvania National Guard Armories MPS
Pennsylvania Railroad Rolling Stock TR
Philadelphia Public Schools TR (PDF, 1 MB)
Philadelphia Public Schools Addendum (PDF, 1 MB)
Pittsburgh Public Schools TR (PDF, 1 MB)
Railroad Resources of York County MPS
Strasburg Road TR
East Fallowfield Township MRA
Tobacco Buildings in Lancaster MPS (PDF,3 MB)
U.S. Coast Guard Lighthouses and Light Stations on the Great Lakes TR
Union County Covered Bridges TR
Upper Delaware Valley, New York and Pennsylvania, MPS (PDF, 3 MB)
West Branch Brandywine Creek MRA
West Whiteland Township MRA
Whiskey Rebellion Resources in Southwestern Pennsylvania MPS (PDF, 7 MB)

To obtain copies of specific multiple property forms, please contact your regional National Register reviewer.

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