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Policy Statement 561 - Historic American Engineering Record

 

Approved by the History and Heritage Committee on March 27, 2020
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on My 4, 2020
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 11, 2020

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) strongly supports the work of the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), which includes:

  • Documenting many of the United States' historic engineering, industrial, and technological landmarks;
  • Preserving a record of these works, explaining how they worked, and why what happened at these sites was important;
  • Articulating why Americans should care to preserve at least a portion of these sites for their historic interest; and
  • Furthering the study and knowledge of the history of the engineering profession and its role in the history and technology of the United States

ASCE strongly urges that the HAER program be funded and staffed to support a future level of effort equal to its productivity during its first five decades (1969 to 2019).

ASCE stands ready to serve as a continuing partner with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Library of Congress (LOC) in support of HAER.

Issue

HAER was created in 1969 through a tripartite agreement among the NPS, the LOC, and ASCE so that documentation on outstanding works of engineering, industry, and technological processes could be preserved. Each organization has had clearly defined roles. The NPS has conducted documentation surveys. The LOC has received completed drawings, histories, and photographs into its archives, and has maintained these collections and made them accessible to the general public. ASCE has provided guidance and oversight.

Over its five-decade life, HAER has documented over 10,000 sites, produced more than 115,000 large-format photographs, 105,000 data pages, and 6,000 measured and interpretive drawings. All of this documentation now resides in the LOC.

HAER's budget and staffing has decreased significantly over the past two decades. HAER's chief engineer position has been unfilled since 2006 and there are unfilled staff positions. These conditions have made it increasingly difficult for HAER to carry out its mission.  

Rationale

The National Historic Preservation Act requires that projects impacted by federal funds be documented to the standards of HAER, either by independent cultural resource management firms contracted by federal agencies or by HAER itself. To successfully carry out this responsibility, HAER needs adequate funding.

Documentation of engineering, industrial, and technological landmarks and preserving a record of these landmarks supports an understanding and appreciation of the history and heritage of civil engineering. These are integral components of education and professional practice.

ASCE Policy Statement 561
First Approved in 2020


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