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 Nebraska Historic Resources Survey & Inventory  (NeHRSI)

A survey is a systematic method of documenting historic resources such as buildings, structures, sites, objects and districts. The information derived from survey work is entered into the statewide historic resources inventory which acts as an archive of information on historic properties. Surveys conducted by the NSHS, Certified Local Governments, and by federal and state agencies, contribute to this inventory. No restrictions are placed on properties included in the inventory, nor does the inventory require any level of maintenance or public accessibility. Rather, the inventory provides basic documentation on historic properties throughout the state.

The Survey

Survey files on various historic buildings began being collected by the NSHS in 1961. Though quite limited in scope and activity, this was the start of NSHS efforts to document historic resources throughout the state. Surveys efforts were bolstered by the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, which established the State Historic Preservation Office and required statewide inventories. In 1974, with increased funding offered to the State Historic Preservation Office by the National Park Service, a comprehensive survey program was formed called the Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey. This newly organized survey program provided a systematic methodology and priorities for the completion of surveys. Over time procedures and levels of documentation have changed but the goal of creating an archive of information about the historic resources of the state holds firm.


Above: David Murphy is photographing the Kearney Canal & Electric Street Railway Power Plant in Kearney, Nebraska during a 1978 survey.

Current surveys are usually conducted on a county-by-county basis. Researchers conduct the survey by driving every rural and urban public road in the project area and recording each property that is at least 40 years old and has maintained its historic integrity. Surveyors never enter private property without permission. In addition to this fieldwork, surveyors research the history of the area in order to better understand it. The Nebraska Historic Resources Survey often includes studies of statewide thematic subjects. The current survey employs a variety of technologies for documentation and often includes additional program work such as heritage tourism assessments, intensive level research, or the creation of driving tour brochures.

Why survey? The survey helps local preservation advocates, land-use planners, economic development coordinators, tourism promoters and the public understand the wealth of historic properties in their communities. The Nebraska Historic Resources Survey provides a basis for preservation and planning at all levels of government and for individual groups or citizens. It is important to note that the survey is not an end in itself, but a beginning for public planners and individuals who value their community's history and wish to benefit from these resources.

What properties are surveyed? Generally, the Nebraska Historic Resources Survey includes properties that possess historic architectural integrity. Properties that have known historical significance are also documented during survey. These properties may be buildings, structures, sites, objects, or districts. Collectively these property types are referred to as resources. The Nebraska Historic Resources Survey is partially funded by the National Park Service, and the State Historic Preservation Office must use federal guidelines when identifying and evaluating historic properties.

What will I find in a survey report? Findings of the survey are summarized in county reports. Since the late 1980s, findings from county surveys have been summarized in county reports. Each report contains a brief historical overview of the county and its individual towns, as well as photographs of select historic properties. In addition, reports include a discussion of how certain historic resources reflect local, statewide or national history in areas like settlement, agriculture, commerce, education and government. The reports also make recommendations regarding properties within the county that may be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Please note that these reports are completed by consultants and do not necessarily represent the views or determinations of the NeSHPO, nor the state government or National Park Service.

Where can I get a copy of a county report? Reports are available in county libraries, local historical societies, or through interlibrary loan. Most county reports are downloadable in PDF. A limited number of hard copies are available for each county. Contact Patrick Haynes at 402.471.4770 or patrick.haynes@nebraska.gov to find out if the county report you are looking for is available.

The Inventory

The inventory consists of over 73,000 properties and includes historic buildings, agricultural structures, bridges and roads, cemeteries and many more types of historic places. The Nebraska Historic Resources Inventory is open to the public for research. Information usually includes basic location data and photographs; however, more in-depth information may be available for some properties. While we still have many hard copy files, we also have many forms and maps digitized. For those wishing to access research materials please make an appointment with staff by calling 402.471.4787. For those interested in archeological resources, please contact the Archeology Division at 402.471.4760.

   

Much of the information on USGS and plat maps has been converted to a digital mapping system allowing for greater analysis.

When will the inventory be complete? With the progression of time, new becomes old, which is why the inventory is part of an on-going process. Every year properties grow a little bit older, and many are altered or torn down. Surveys continue to document historic properties missed in previous surveys. Often 30 years or more pass before an area gets resurveyed, and many properties become historic during that time. It is also important to document in the inventory when properties have been demolished or significantly altered. In an effort to keep our information up to date we rely heavily upon the general public to submit information to the inventory.

How can you help? Download a copy of the Nebraska Historic Resources Inventory Form . For historic cemeteries please use the cemetery specific form . Completed forms may be sent via mail or email. Educators interested in having students submit inventory information might find the lesson plans and activities on the Public Outreach and Education page beneficial.

For Contractors/Consultants conducting compliance required surveys
Those conducting surveys to comply with federal regulations should contact Jill Dolberg, Review & Compliance Coordinator, at 402.471.4773 or by email at jill.dolberg@nebraska.gov for the appropriate survey forms.

Apply to join the Architectural Historians / Historians Contractors List: Contractor Form

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Last updated 9 November 2010

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