Event, General, Politics, Women's History

Reclaiming Herstory – Affirming & Celebrating Women’s History Sites


The US National Trust for Historic Preservation is ‘now accepting nominations for 2015 America’s 11 most endangered historic places list’. The aim in 2015 is to ensure that historic places associated with women’s place in history can be celebrated and affirmed – and saved! The website for the Trust observes that for more than twenty-five years, the endangered historic places list:

… has highlighted important examples of the nation’s architectual, cultural and natural heritage … at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

In launching the 2015 search, President of the Trust, Stephanie Meeks, noted that historic places ‘are a tangible reminder of who we are as a nation’. She added that the Trust’s annual listing of historic places ‘has helped shine a spotlight on threatened historic places throughout the nation’. This  ensures not only their preservation, but ‘galvaniz[es] local support for the preservation of other unique, irreplaceable treasures that make our nation and local communities special’.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Home in Hyde Park

Since 1988, over 250 ‘threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures have been identified’ on America’s most endangered historic places list – urban, rural, Native American, sports places, communities, single or stand-alone buildings. In 2015, it’s time for places specifically associated with women to come to the fore, as:

… the list spotlights historic places across America … facing a range of threats including insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. The designation has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save endangered sites from every region of the country.

Because women are too often overlooked in history, it is inevitable that places associated with women, women’s activism and struggles, women’s political stands and women’s suffering and celebration, anguish and achievement, are equally ignored. In recognising this, the Trust notes that places added to the list:

… need not be [traditionally] famous, but … must be significant within their own cultural context, illustrate important issues in preservation and have a need for immediate action to stop or reverse serious threats. All nominations are subject to an extensive, rigorous vetting process.

Chartered by Congress in 1949, the Trust gains financial support ‘entirely [from] private contributions’ and takes ‘direct on-the-ground action when historic buildings and sites are threatened’. This serves to support the building of ‘vibrant, sustainable communities’. The Trust ‘advocate[s] with governments to save America’s heritage’, striving ‘to create a cultural legacy as diverse as the nation itself so that [everyone] can take pride in [their] part of the American story’.

With over 300,000 members and supporters, and partnering ‘with hundreds of preservation organizations from coast to coast’, the  Trust is ‘recognized as the leader of the historic preservation movement in the United States’. 2015 is the year to ensure that women’s records are recognised as not only a significant but a central part of US history. The Trust calls for entries, nominations and positive suggestions to recognise women in US history – from all backgrounds, all states and territories, all centuries, all fields of endeavour. The call is on for women to come to the fore, for those who care about US history and herstory, for those who recognise women as equal participants in the building of the country to act! Don’t let another year go by without ensuring the recognition of women through places, spaces, communities, buildings and sites.

Material provided by US National Trust for Historic Preservation

with brief additions by Jocelynne A. Scutt


Ellen White, Prolific Writer

‘Nothing Gilded, Nothing Gained’

A Brief History of the National Trust

  • In the late 1940s, leaders of a fledgling American preservation movement recognized the need for a national organization to provide support and encouragement for grassroots preservation efforts. In response, a small group set to work on the establishment of a National Trust for Historic Preservation. Their efforts bore fruit when President Truman signed legislation creating the National Trust on October 26, 1949.
  • The founders envisioned an organization whose primary purpose would be the acquisition and administration of historic sites. True to this vision, in 1951 the Trust assumed responsibility for its first property: Woodlawn Plantation in northern Virginia. Twenty-seven other historic sites, ranging from the 18th-century Drayton Hall in South Carolina to the Glass House in Connecticut, have come become National Trust Historic Sites in the years since.
  • Both the National Trust and the preservation movement entered a new phase with the 1966 passage of the National Historic Preservation Act. Among other important provisions, the Act provided federal funding support for the Trust’s work. After 30 years, this federal appropriation was terminated by mutual agreement. Today the Trust relies on private-sector contributions for support.
  • Outreach programs have continued to assume importance as the organization has grown. The Preservation Services Fund was created in 1969 to provide financial assistance to local preservation projects. The first field office opened in San Francisco in 1971. There are now 13 in 12 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Demonstration projects soon followed: the National Main Street Center, which emphasizes preservation as a tool for revitalizing traditional business districts, in 1980; Community Partners, which employs a similar approach in historic residential neighborhoods, in 1994. Other special programs were created to focus on rural preservation (1979), heritage tourism (1989) and statewide organization development (1994).
  • Complementing outreach, the Trust continued to emphasize education. Publication of a magazine (today called Preservation) began in 1952. The first Preservation Honor Awards, recognizing individuals, organizations and projects that represent the best in preservation, were presented in 1971. The Trust has championed the annual nationwide celebration of Preservation Week since 1973. The yearly list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, first issued in 1988, has become a highly effective means of spotlighting treasures in trouble and rallying efforts to save them.
  • In 2011, the National Trust announced a dynamic new program called National Treasures, through which the organization will identify significant threatened places across the United States, and take direct action to save them. National Treasures are part of a new and focused effort to bring more Americans into the preservation movement, and demonstrate the relevance of preserving the nation’s historic places.
  • Today, the National Trust has a staff of 300 employees based at headquarters in Washington, D.C., in field offices nationwide, and at historic sites in 15 states. With 750,000 members and supporters, today’s National Trust has become the organization its founders envisioned: the vigorous leader of an expansive movement that is changing the face of America.

National Trust for Historic Preservation Now Accepting Nominations for 2015 America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places List Contact pr@savingplaces.org or 202-588-6141 Follow the National Trust @PresNation and 11 Most list #11Most For additional information, e-mail 11Most@savingplaces.org or call 202.588.6141. To learn more about the program and to submit a nomination, visit:  www.preservationnation.org/11most http://www.preservationnation.org/who-we-are/press-center/press-releases/2015/national-trust-for-historic.html (accessed 4 February 2015)

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