Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-56f9d74cfd-5k9ck Total loading time: 0.303 Render date: 2022-06-25T09:20:00.826Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Interpreting the 50-Year Rule

How A Simple Phrase Leads to a Complex Problem

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2017

David T. Yoder*
Affiliation:
Behavioral Science Department, Utah Valley University, OremUT 84058 (davidtyoder@gmail.com)

Abstract

For over 40 years, some archaeologists have labored under a distorted interpretation of the 50-year rule in which anything more than 50 years of age becomes “archaeological” and therefore must be recorded and evaluated for eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places. A reexamination of federal law shows that this is a mistaken interpretation. Data from the Intermountain Antiquities Computer System indicates that, if this practice continues, the number of featureless historical sites requiring documentation in the West will greatly increase at a large expense to the public and that most of these costs will be associated with sites not considered significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture. Solutions are presented that will give archaeologists greater flexibility in recording material culture more than 50 years of age, allowing us to redirect our efforts to resources of greater interest while making the practice of archaeology more defensible to the public. These problems are symptomatic of a larger issue that relates to how cultural remains from the latter part of the twentieth century and beyond will be valued. The discipline of archaeology must begin candid conversations about the relative importance of such recent material culture and its management implications.

Durante más de 40 años, algunos arqueólogos han trabajado bajo una interpretación distorsionada de la regla de los cincuenta años, en la que cualquier cosa que tenga una antigüedad de más de cincuenta años se considera “arqueológica” y por lo tanto debe ser registrada y evaluada para determinar su elegibilidad ante el National Register of Historic Places. Una revisión de la ley federal demuestra como ésta es una interpretación errónea. Los datos de la Intermountain Antiquity Computer System indican que de seguir esta práctica, el número de sitios históricos sin ninguna característica especial que requiere de documentación en el occidente de los Estados Unidos aumentará de manera considerable a expensas del público y que la mayor parte de estos costos estarán asociados a sitios que no son considerados significativos para la historia la arquitectura, la arqueología, la ingeniería o la cultura americana. Las soluciones que se presentan darán a los arqueólogos una mayor flexibilidad en el registro de la cultura material de más de cincuenta años de antigüedad, lo que nos permite redirigir nuestros esfuerzos a los recursos de mayor interés, al mis o tiempo que se justifica la práctica arqueológica ante el público. Estos problemas son sintomáticos de una cuestión mayor que se relaciona con la forma en la que se valorarán los restos culturales de la segunda parte del siglo 20 y los posteriores a éste. La arqueología como disciplina debe iniciar conversaciones francas en torno a la importancia relativa de la cultura material más reciente y las implicaciones para su administración.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2014

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation 2011 Meeting the “Reasonable and Good Faith Effort” Identification Standard in Section 106 Review. Policy issued by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Electronic document, http://www.achp.gov/rgfe_guidance.pdf, accessed July 15, 2014.Google Scholar
California Department of Transportation (California DOT) 2011 Tract Housing in California, 1945-1973: A Context for National Register Evaluation. Cultural Studies Office, Caltrans Division of Environmental Analysis, Sacramento, California.Google Scholar
Casella, Eleanor C., and Symonds, James (editors) 2005 Industrial Archaeology: Future Directions. Springer, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Colorado Bureau of Land Management (Colorado BLM) 2011 Handbook of Guidelines and Procedures for Inventory, Evaluation, and Mitigation of Cultural Resources. Electronic document, http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/cultural_resources/cultural_resource.html, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (COAHP) 2007 Colorado Culture Resource Survey Manual. Electronic document, http://www.historycolorado.org/oahp/survey-inventory-forms#manual, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
Dixon, Kelly J., Schablitsky, Julie M., and Novak, Shannon A. (editors) 2011 An Archaeology of Desperation: Exploring the Donner Party’s Alder Creek Camp. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.Google Scholar
Federal Highway Administration 2014 First Amended Programmatic Agreement among the Federal Highway Administration, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the California State Historic Preservation Officer, and the California Department of Transportation Regarding Compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as It Pertains to the Administration of the Federal-Aid Highway Program In California. Electronic document, http://www.dot.ca.gov/ser/vol2/106pa_14.pdf, accessed July 15, 2014.Google Scholar
Gorte, Ross W., Vincent, Carol Hardy, Hanson, Laura A., and Rosenblum, Marc R. 2012 Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data. Congressional Research Service Report for Congress. Electronic document, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42346.pdf, accessed Dec 31, 2013.Google Scholar
Groover, Mark 2008 The Archaeology of North American Farmsteads. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.Google Scholar
Hardesty, Donald L. 1988 The Archaeology of Mining and Miners: A View from the Silver State. Society for Historical Archaeology, Special Publication Number 6, Ann Arbor, Michigan.Google Scholar
Hardesty, Donald L. 1991 Toward an Historical Archaeology of the Intermountain West. Historical Archaeology 25(3):2935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hardesty, Donald L., and Little, Barbara J. 2009 Assessing Site Significance. A Guide for Archaeologists and Historians. AltaMira Press, Lanham, Maryland.Google Scholar
Intermountain Antiquities Computer System (IMACS) 1998 Intermountain Antiquities Computer System User’s Guide. University of Utah, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service.Google Scholar
Lees, William B., and King, Julia A. 2007 What Are We Really Learning through Publicly Funded Historical Archaeology (And Is It Worth the Considerable Expense?). Historical Archaeology 41(2):5461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Little, Barbara J. 2007a What Are We Learning? Who Are We Serving? Publicly Funded Historical Archaeology and Public Scholarship. Historical Archaeology 41(2):7279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Little, Barbara J. 2007b Historical Archaeology: Why the Past Matters. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California.Google Scholar
Loomis, Brandon, and Fahys, Judy 2011 Utah Fires Its State Archaeologists. Salt Lake Tribune 23 June. Salt Lake City, Utah.Google Scholar
Mathers, Clay,Darvill, Timothy, and Little, Barbara J. (editors) 2005 Heritage of Value, Archaeology of Renown: Reshaping Archaeological Assessment and Significance. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.Google Scholar
Melosi, Martin V. 2000 Fresno Sanitary Landfill National Historic Landmark Nomination. Electronic document, http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/01001050.pdf, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
Nevada Bureau of Land Management (Nevada BLM) 2012 Guidelines and Standards for Archaeological Inventory. Electronic document, http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/prog/more_programs/cultural_resources.html, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
New Mexico Bureau of Land Management (New Mexico BLM) 2005 Procedures for Performing Cultural Resource Fieldwork on Public Lands in the Area of New Mexico BLM Responsibilities. Electronic document, http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/more/cultural_resources/cultural_permittees.html, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
Noble, Vergil E. 1996 Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: A Plea for Change in the Practice of Historical Archeology. Historical Archaeology 30(2):7484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Palmer, Jamie, Loosle, Byron, and Brim, Jaclyn 2012 Policy or Practice? Changes in the Recordation of Historic Components at Archaeological Sites Located in Juab & Millard Counties, Utah (1930-2009). Poster presented at the 33nd Biennial Great Basin Anthropological Conference, Lake Tahoe, Nevada.Google Scholar
Ramos, Maria, and Duganne, David 2000 Exploring Public Perceptions and Attitudes about Archaeology. Prepared for the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, D.C., by Harris Interactive, Rocherster, NY. Electronic document http://www.saa.org/portals/0/SAA/pubedu/nrptdraft4.pdf, accessed Dec 29, 2013.Google Scholar
Rathje, William L. 1999 Archaeology of Space Garbage. Discovering Archaeology 1(5):108–11Google Scholar
Rathje, William L., and Murphy, Cullen 2001 Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona.Google Scholar
Schroedl, Alan R. 2008 A Personal Perspective on the IMACS Site Form and the Next Generation of a Utah Site Database. Utah Archaeology 21(1):89105.Google Scholar
Sebastian, Lynne 2009 The Future of CRM Archaeology. In Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management: Visions for the Future, edited by Sebastian, L. and Lipe, W. D., pp. 318. School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series, School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe.Google Scholar
Sebastian, Lynne, and Lipe, William D. (editors) 2009 Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management: Visions for the Future. School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series, School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe.Google Scholar
Shanks, Michael, Platt, David, and Rathje, William L. 2004 The Perfume of Garbage: Modernity and the Archaeological. Modernism/Modernity 11(1):6183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spiegelman, Helen, and Sheehan, Bill 2005 Unintended Consequences: Municipal Solid Waste Management and the Throwaway Society. Issue Brief of the Product Policy Institute. Electronic document, http://upstreampolicy.org/unintended-consequences-municipal-solid-waste-management-and-the-throwaway-society/, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
Sprinkle, John H. Jr., 2007 “Of Exceptional Importance”: The Origins of the “Fifty-Year Rule” in Historic Preservation. The Public Historian 29(2):81103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sprinkle, John H. Jr., 2014 Crafting Preservation Criteria. The National Register of Historic Places and American Historic Preservation. Routledge, New York, NY.Google Scholar
Transportation Research Board of the National Academies 2012 National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 723, A Model for Identifying and Evaluating the Historic Significance of Post-World War II Housing. Transportation Research Board, Washington D.C. Electronic document, http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/167790.aspx, accessed July 24, 2014.Google Scholar
United States Census Bureau (U.S. Census Bureau) 2013a Resident population and Apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives-Utah. Electronic document, http://www.census.gov/dmd/www/resapport/states/utah.pdf, accessed January 1, 2014.Google Scholar
United States Census Bureau (U.S. Census Bureau) 2013b Resident Population and Apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives-Colorado. Electronic document, http://www.census.gov/dmd/www/resapport/states/colorado.pdf, accessed January 1, 2014.Google Scholar
United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USDA, FS) 2008 Forest Service Manual, Chapter 2360-Heritage Program Management. USFS Manual. Electronic document, http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/heritage/, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (USDI, BLM) 2004 Manual Sections 8100-8170. BLM Manual. Electronic document, http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/regulations/Instruction_Memos_and_Bulletins/blm_manual.html, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service (USDI, NPS) 2002a How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. National Register Bulletin 15. Electronic document, http://www.nps.gov/nr/publications/bulletins/nrb15/, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service (USDI, NPS) 2002b Historic Residential Suburbs. Guidelines for Evaluation and Documentation for the National Register of Historic Places. National Register Bulletin. Electronic document, http://www.nps.gov/NR/publications/bulletins/suburbs/index.htm, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
United States Government Accountability Office 2009 Federal Land Management: Potential Effects and Factors to Consider in a Move of the Forest Service into the Department of the Interior. GAO-09-412T.Google Scholar
Utah Bureau of Land Management (Utah BLM) 2002 Handbook H-8110, Guidelines for Identifying Cultural Resources. Electronic document, http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/prog/more/cultural/archaeology/cultural_resource.html, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
Wyoming Bureau of Land Management (Wyoming BLM) 2010 Standard Permit Conditions. Electronic document, http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/programs/Cultural_Resources/permits.html, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar
Wyoming Bureau of Land Management State Director and Wyoming State Historic Preservation Officer 2014 Wyoming State Protocol Appendix D Exclusions: Defined Non-Sites and Property Types Requiring No Formal Documentation. In State Protocol Between The Bureau Of Land Management Wyoming State Director And The Wyoming State Historic Preservation Officer. Electronic document, http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/Section106/Protocol.aspx, accessed July 1, 2014.Google Scholar

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Interpreting the 50-Year Rule
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Interpreting the 50-Year Rule
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Interpreting the 50-Year Rule
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *