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Historic Preservation: Navigating the Internet

A research guide to finding books, articles, and other resources in Historic Preservation

Evaluating Websites

Criteria for evaluating websites include:

  • Accuracy
  • Authority
  • Coverage
  • Currency
  • Objectivity

Remember to examine websites carefully before using them for research purposes.  If you still aren't sure, ask a librarian or your professor for assistance.

Using Virtual Libraries

Virtual libraries . . .

♦  Provide directories of carefully selected Web resources.

♦  Include annotations (summaries) of the selected websites.

♦  Are usually maintained by librarians or other information specialists.

♦  Furnish the quality control that is lacking in web search engines.

Users can usually browse by subject or search.  For example, see:

Finding Dulcinea: Librarian of the Internet. (If the search feature does not work, try this link.)

See also the Library of Congress's Virtual Reference Shelf, which includes "selected online resources for research," and Alcove Nine: An Annotated List of Reference Websites.

Citing Your Sources

While writing research papers, you may need to:

  List your sources in bibliographies or works cited, and

♦  Provide either footnotes or endnotes.

Here is a link to the UMW Libraries' Guide to Citing Resources.

Navigation Menu

When looking for web resources related to any of the following topics, either click on these links or scroll down:

Dictionaries, Glossaries, and Guides

Bibliographie and Collections



Online Periodicals

Papers and Documents



Google Tricks

Dictionaries, Glossaries, and Guides

Classic Commonwealth: Virginia Architecture from the Colonial Era to 1940
Published by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, this guide "is designed to aid professionals, students, and the interested public in identifying and documenting the numerous types and styles of historic buildings in the Commonwealth."

New Dominion Virginia:  Architectural Style Guide
An index of architectural styles in Virginia that "relies heavily on photographs which exemplify or illustrate relevant styles."
A comprehensive directory designed to “foster the preservation of historic buildings, historic downtowns and neighborhoods, cultural resources, and to promote heritage tourism by facilitating communication among historic preservation professionals and the general public.”

Resources (University of Mary Washington Historic Preservation Department)


A collection of historic American buildings--such as those designed by Frank Lloyd Wright--and engineering structures from the collection of the Library of Congress. Covers 1933 to the present.

Cities and Buildings Database (University of Washington)
A collection of digitized images "drawn from across time and throughout the world."
Plaster Architecture Project
Attempts to improve the "knowledge and the safeguard of the techniques and manufactured articles made of plaster, mortar, and artificial stone." The site's headings are: Census, Essay, Glossary, Bibliography, and Forum.

RIBApix (British Architectural Library at the Royal Institute of  British Architects
Includes images covering "world architecture of all periods together with related subjects such as interior design, landscape, topography, planning, construction and the decorative arts."


Bibliographies and Collections

A listing of "contractors, web sites, organizations, publications, videos, and other resources related to rural architecture."
Dozens of online bibliographies cover various aspects of "historical archaeology."
Cites works related to artifacts, electronic / digital media, furniture, library and archival materials, natural history, paintings and photographs, textiles, prints and drawings, exhibitions, disaster preparedness, and other topics. Compiled by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin.
Includes works relating to almanacs, calendars, greeting cards, commercial catalogs, magazines, photographs, postcards, paper dolls, crate labels, sheet music, and many other types of ephemera. Compiled by the Ephemera Society of America.
Maintained by Michigan State University Libraries, this annotated listing is a "compilation of web pages and books of potential interest to nonprofit organizations seeking funding opportunities related to historic preservation."

Historic Preservation Resources (National Agricultural Library, Rural Information Center)
Provides links to more than fifty "information guides and manuals on general and technical aspects of historic preservation."
Offers a "resource list of links, books, and journal articles on the preservation of historic schools, providing financial and administrative preservation tools, and presenting school preservation case studies."

Resources (Preservation, Library of Congress)
A brief listing of works related to preservation of books and paper, photographs, and audio visual materials. Compiled by the Library of Congress.
Compiled by a member of the Illini Country Stitchers Guild. See also Preserving Textiles.


A project of the Getty Research Institute, this controlled vocabulary database comprises more than 130,000 words, phrases, and related information that researchers in art and art history can use as "preferred" or "authority" terms to describe fine art, architecture, archival items, and material culture dating from antiquity to the present. 

Central Rappahannock Heritage Center
The center "archives and preserves historical documents and photographs pertaining to the history and people from the counties of Caroline, Stafford, King George, Spotsylvania and the City of Fredericksburg in Virginia."

Cities and Buildings Database
A collection of digitized images maintained by the University of Washington

Historic Court Records (Fredericksburg, Virginia)
Includes "extracts, transcripts and indices of records in repository in the Fredericksburg Circuit Court, Fredericksburg, Virginia."
Provides information on the National Park system and much related material on natural resources, legislation, and publications. Its websites include Heritage Documentation Programs, National Archeological Database, and National Register Information System, the official database of the National Register of Historic Places.

From Cornell University, “PreserveNet is designed to provide preservationists with a comprehensive database of regularly updated internet resources and current professional opportunities."
This controlled vocabulary database, a project of the Getty Research Institute, comprises more than 1,000,000 names of continents, nations, cities, historical places, mountains, rivers, and other geographic areas that are significant to researchers in art, art history, and architecture.

Online Periodicals

A journal that explores the "new ranges of architectural communication available through digital media" contains articles relevant to preservation issues.

CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship
A publication of the National Park Service that showcases articles on cultural resource management. It replaced CRM, published from 1978 to 2002.

An electronic journal dedicated to "scientific research for the preservation of cultural heritage."

Online Conservation / Preservation Serials
A listing with links to various online serials dedicated to aspects of preservation. Maintained by Stanford University's Conservation OnLine site.
The publication of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

Papers and Documents

The AHHP is dedicated to the preservation of the Smithsonian Institution's buildings. Its website includes links to the Smithsonian Preservation Quarterly and other documents related to historic preservation.

Development of Humidity Recommendations in Museums & Moisture Control in Buildings
A copy of an article by J.P. Brown and William B. Rose that originally appeared in 1996 in the APT Bulletin.
This paper by Randall Mason, part of the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, "reviews the current findings [2005] on the value of historic preservation and the methods used to assess that value, making the case for needed improvement if the economics of preservation is to more objectively and rigorously quantify the effects of historic preservation."
A report detailing federal historic preservation case law.
The website for the federal agency that deals with overland transport issues (railroads, trucking, some pipelines), and how they relate to preservation. Includes links to historic preservation legislation, regulations, documents, archeological resources, cultural resources management, tribal consultation, and much more.
A series of works that provide guidance in evaluating, documenting, and nominating historically significant sites to the National Register.

PDF Publications(Getty Conservation Institute)
Copies of various publications from the Getty Conservation Institute.


An organization of "conservation professionals dedicated to preserving the art and historic artifacts of our cultural heritage for future generations."
The “preservation” link on this site includes a bibliography of works dedicated to the preservation of gravestones.
A "cross-disciplinary, membership organization dedicated to promoting the best technology for conserving historic structures and their settings."

Central Rappahannock Heritage Center
The center "archives and preserves historical documents and photographs pertaining to the history and people from the counties of Caroline, Stafford, King George, Spotsylvania and the City of Fredericksburg in Virginia."
A non-profit organization dedicated to preservation issues of Civil War battlefields.  The “newsroom” link covers current issues related to battlefield preservation.
The various programs of the J. Paul Getty trust focus on all aspects of the visual arts. Its Conservation Institute "serves the conservation community through scientific research, education, and training, model field projects, and the dissemination of information."
Includes articles related to various aspects of preservation.
The historic preservation program of the U.S. General Services Administration "provides technical and strategic expertise to promote the viability, reuse, and integrity of historic buildings GSA owns, leases, and has the opportunity to acquire."
An international organization founded in 1959 to "promote the conservation of all types of cultural heritage, both movable and immovable."
Provides information on the National Park system and much related material on natural resources, legislation, and publications. The Discover History link connects the user to sites on museum collections, national historic landmarks, maritime history, the Civil War, archaeology, battlefield preservation, tours, American Indians, and grants assistance. The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training "advances the application of science and technology to historic preservation." Databases and indexes that can be accessed include:

Heritage Documentation Programs

National Archeological Database

National Register Information System, the official database of the National Register of Historic Places.
A guide to the National Trust and its services. This private non-profit organization is "dedicated to saving historic places and revitalizing America's communities."
The U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites "fosters heritage conservation and historic preservation at the national and international levels."

Website of the "premier museum of decorative arts."  Click here to search the museum's collections.


Furnishes links to conferences, directories of educational programs, employment and scholarship opportunities, products and services, and various other types of Internet resources of interest to preservationists.

Google Tricks

  • Use quotation marks for exact words or phrases.
    • For example, “global warming” (to search global warming as a phrase rather than two separate words).
  • Use an asterisk as a wildcard or a placeholder. 
    • For example, universit* (for university or universities); “a * saved is a * earned”
  • Use OR to search for one word or the other.  Useful for synonyms. 
    • For example, attorneys OR lawyers
  • Use site: to search within a site or domain (no space after colon).
    • For example, “global warming”; climatology
  • Use a dash to exclude a word or phrase from a search. 
    •  For example, cougar speed –car; “global warming” –
  • Use allintitle: to show results with word(s) in the title (no space after colon).
    • For example, allintitle:“global warming”
      • You can also use allinurl to find websites with words in the URL.
  • Use related: to search for sites similar to ones you know (no space after colon).
    • For example,
  • Use link: to find sites linked to a particular web page (no space after colon).
    • For example,;
  •  Use filetype: to restrict results to certain file type (no space after colon).
    • For example, climatology filetype:pdf
  • Use two periods without spaces to search for a number range, such as dates, prices, and measurements.
    • For example, “test scores” 2013..2014; microwaves $100..$300