Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Wilson, Tarsha Sydney (2018). When a Little Goes a Long Way: Tracking the Historic Preservation Fund & Its Impact on the Field of Historic Preservation (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


The Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) is a federal grant-in-aid program stemming from the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. It is authorized at $150 million annually with funds deposited from Outer Continental Shelf oil lease revenues. The fund is reauthorized by Congress periodically with apportionment mandated by the National Park Service under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior. Despite being authorized for $150 million, the fund has never been fully appropriated with lows of $25-$26 million and highs reaching close to $90 million. Research for this impact assessment required scouring newspaper archives within the historic preservation field like Preservation News, as well as those outside the field. Conversations with preservationists also aided in the impact assessment and the answer to the question came down to the famous quote: ""You don't know what you got til it's gone"". Stringent appropriations and the threat of elimination of the HPF in the 1980s caused a wave of advocacy on behalf of the re-authorization of the HPF.

Research and analysis of appropriation history and uses of the funds allocated showed that although the HPF occupied a minuscule portion of the federal budget and has been historically branded as being underfunded, a little does go a long way and we can only hope that the future generations of preservationists that are being molded by programs supported by the fund will adopt the same attitude as those preservationists and Congressmen and women that fought so hard to keep it in the past.


Historic Preservation Fund, National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, National Park Service, Federal Grants, federal-state partnership



Date Posted: 11 June 2018