HP 206 Researching Historic Structures and Sites

Fall 2017

Wednesdays, 12:00 to 3:00, Wheeler 101
Professor Thomas D. Visser, e-mail: Thomas.Visser@.uvm.edu
Office hours: 204 Wheeler House, Tues & Wed 10:30 to 11:30 AM or by appointment
Graduate Teaching Assistant: Adrienne Dickerson
Office hours: Mondays 11 AM - noon, 103 Wheeler House

Course web site http://www.uvm.edu/histpres/206/hp206syl2017.html

Course Goals and Outcomes

HP 206 Researching Historic Structures and Sites is designed to provide an introduction to the historic preservation research methods and documentation techniques used by professional historic preservationists to identify and to record historic structures and heritage sites using archival and physical evidence. The course introduces techniques for heritage site research and documentation, including writing building descriptions and historical narratives, as well as an overview of basic digital photography, GIS, CAD, measured drawings and publishing on the web. The reading assignments are intended to provide incoming preservation students a broad overview of the professional field of preservation and to help students develop knowledge and skills in historic sites research methodologies.

Another goal of this course is to help students develop skills in working on collaborative preservation research projects. The results of this research project will be shared with the public as a public service through a web site developed in this course. The class project this semester will build on the sequence of research projects (see http://www.uvm.edu/~hp206/) completed by previous students in this course. Our class project will be to research places associated with the history of Burlington, Vermont, using photographs, stereo views, drawings, and maps available at the University of Vermont Library Special Collections as our primary archival sources. Each student will be responsible for individually completing assignments that together will contribute to the class project. The general plan for this research project will be developed in class. As with all field research, safety always should be the first priority. Always watch for traffic. Respect the privacy wishes of others. Avoid taking pictures when identifiable people are in view. Only take photographs from a public way or with permission. Do not trespass.


All students are expected to attend all classes unless for illness or for reasons beyond a student's control or if excused in advance. Cellphones should be turned off during all classes. Computers and digital devices should only be used for class-related business during lectures and labs. No texting, e-mailing, web-browsing, or other distractive activities should be done during class lectures.

Assignments should be submitted at the beginning of class. Written assignments should be done on a computer and printed with double-spaced 12-point black text. Multiple page submissions should be stapled or punched and bound together. Digital assignments should be submitted as specified below. The final assignment and all grade-able submissions are due on the last day of class. There is no final exam. It is expected that all assignments will be submitted on time. Late work may be penalized unless arrangements are made in advance. Extensions for assignments may only granted for illness or for serious reasons beyond the control of a student. There will be no incomplete course grades for this course except with the Graduate College Dean's approval for reasons beyond a student's control.

Those enrolled in this course have priority use of the Historic Preservation Computer Lab in Wheeler 103. Students are responsible for supplying appropriate paper for the printouts and to pay the "pig" for printer ink and toner use at the rates displayed. When using lab computers, files should only be saved to users UVM zoo accounts or to a USB flash drive, not to the computer hard drives. Some assignments will require that digital products be submitted. (These procedures will be reviewed in class.) Each student will be provided access to their own web account through the University of Vermont. This UVM web account should be used for developing course project web pages and for submitting other assignments as noted below.

All writing must be authored directly by each student. It is expected that all work will be produced in a professional manner and will be thoroughly proof-read and checked for spelling and grammatical and formatting errors before being submitted. Unedited "rough drafts" should not be submitted or posted on the web. Generally in the history/historic preservation field, the Chicago Manual of Style note format is the preferred style guide for research publication citations (not the parenthetical author/date format) and thus all work submitted for this course must cite sources using the note format of this style. The Chicago Manual of Style is available for consultation in book format in the reference section of the UVM Library or it may be purchased. Online versions are also available. All sources of information and ideas that are not common knowledge must be identified through attributions in the text or by citations using notes (either footnotes or endnotes, but not both). Plagiarism is not tolerated at the University of Vermont. For guidance, see Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It. Please also review the University of Vermont's Code of Academic Integrity and the UVM Student Handbook.

Schedule Class topics Assignments
Aug. 30

Course overview

Project introduction and research plan

Research and writing in Historic Preservation

Methods for researching historic buildings and sites using archival evidence

Plagiarism, copyright, and public domain

Building descriptions; form & structure terminology overview

Assignment 1 introduction

HP 206 Researching Historic Structures and Sites Projects

Building description tips

Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It

How Not to Plagiarize

Copyright Basics

Creative Commons

Aug. 30
5-8 PM
Historic Preservation Annual Welcome Event

Wheeler House- West Veranda
Guests invited

Sept. 6

Community identity: Cultural heritage and landscape

Class research project planning
(meet first at Wheeler 101)

Methods for researching historic buildings and sites using archival evidence (continued)

Site visit: UVM Bailey-Howe Library
Guest speaker: Chris Burns, UVM Special Collections

Assignment 1 due - Memories paper

UVM Center for Digital Initiatives

Key to Sanborn maps

UVM Landscape Change Program

UVM Library -E-Resource Portal - History

City of Burlington - Property Database

Burlington Planning & Zoning - National Register of Historic Places listings

Florence Declaration
on Heritage and Landscape as Human Values

Sept. 13

Class research project planning (continued)

Methods for researching historic buildings and sites using archival evidence (continued)

Postcards and photographs as historical research evidence

Garvin, A Building History of Northern New England - read through Chapter 1

Prints and Photographs Online (LOC)

Copyright and Other Restrictions That Apply (LOC)

Evolution of Postcards in the United States

Sept. 20

Documentation and recordation: Architectural photography - equipment & methods
- film photography
- scale rectified photography
- digital photography

Assignment 2 due - Research plan
National Register Photo Policy

How to Improve the Quality of Photographs for National Register Nomination

HABS/HAER Photo Guidelines

Vermont Photographic Documentation Requirements

Sept. 27

Documentation and recordation: Methods for deciphering a building's history from physical evidence



Assignment 3 due - Field photography

Garvin, A Building History of Northern New England - read Chapter 2

Visser - Field Guide to New England Barns & Farm Buildings - read Chapter 1

A Model for Identifying and Evaluating the Historic Significance of Post-World War II Housing

Oct. 4

Documentation and recordation: measuring and recording buildings, reading building plans and elevations



Recording Historic Structures - read Chapter 5

HABS Guide to Field Documentation


Autodesk Fusion 360 (free)

Oct. 5

HP 303 Internship Presentations

9 AM - noon - guests invited

Oct. 11

Class research project planning
Creating web pages for historic preservation projects and organizations - basics
(Meet in Wheeler 103 Historic Preservation Computer lab)

Garvin, A Building History of Northern New England- read Chapter 3 to end

Web tips

More web tips

UVM Web Guide

w3schools web development site

Oct. 13-14
(Friday & Saturday

Historic New England Field School in Preservation Practice: Using Easements to Protect Historic Properties

At Shirley Center Meetinghouse, 41 Brown Road, Shirley, Massachusetts. Registration is required. Space is limited to 20. Call 617-994-6644 for more information or register online. (Student rate available.)

Oct. 13-14
(Friday & Saturday)

Association for Preservation Technology (APT) annual conference

At Westin Ottawa & Chateau Laurier Hotel, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Presented in association with the National Trust of Canada and the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP-ACECP)
Pre-registration is required. (Student rate available.)

Oct. 18

Documentation and recordation:

Assessing the visual impact of site dimensions

Measuring and recording urban and suburban places

Site plans

Mapping Historic Sites


Recording and simulating historic places in three dimensions


Recording Historic Structures - read Chapter 6

Visser, Porches of North America - read Chapter 1

Browse the following web resources:

Oct. 25

Deciphering historic buildings from physical historical evidence: Porches & porticoes

Assignment 4 due - Historical research paperVisser, Porches of North America - read Chapter 2 - end

Nov. 1

Deciphering historic buildings from physical historical evidence: Porches (continued)

Assignment 5 due - Map(s)

Visser - Field Guide to New England Barns & Farm Buildings - read Chapter 2 to end

Nov. 8

Deciphering historic buildings from physical historical evidence: Barns & farm buildings

Class research project
Web template planning

After the break meet in computer lab


Lab assignment: Revise and update your historical research paper as a digital file, digital reference collection, map, and photography assignment files suitable for publishing on the web

Nov. 15

Documentation and recordation


Nov. 22

Thanksgiving Break

No Class

Nov. 29

Places by night - Street lighting types and review issues

Class research project
Web publishing workshop

Browse the following web resources:

Lab assignment: Bring to the lab your historical research digital files, digital reference collection, map, and photography assignment files for publishing on the web.

Dec. 6 Class presentations

Assignment 6 due & Assignment 7 due


Assignment 1 - Recording memories

Write a short paper (3 to 5 pages) from memory that describes a building or place that you remember from long ago. Try to be as accurate and detailed as possible. Consider the specific qualities of the character of the building and place that impressed you most strongly. Identify and discuss the appearance of physical materials and how the place made you feel then, but avoid conjecture.

Assignment 2 - Research project plan - Identification, documentation and recordation of historic sites - Archival photo files

Conduct preliminary research on your project topic and sites using primary and secondary archival sources (UVM Library Special Collections and other sources) and on-line resources. Scan or download digital files of the images that you will be researching. Assemble a digital reference collection of related historic photographs, maps, aerial imagery. Store these digital files in a publicly accessible project resource folder on your UVM zoo account. Organize into folders that note which images are suitable for reproduction and which may have copyright restrictions. Maintain a log of the subjects, sources and copyright restrictions/ permissions for all images.

  • Submit on paper a plan of your historic research that includes:
    1. The current street addresses of the buildings and sites that you will be researching;
    2. A preliminary timeline of the major changes to each of the current and previous buildings and structures on the properties;
    3. A sample of the specific primary archival sources that you will be using to support your research (list each in both CMS note form and CMS bibliographic form);
    4. A sample of the specific secondary archival sources that you will be using to support your research (list each in both CMS note form and CMS bibliographic form);
  • Submit by email to thomas.visser@uvm.edu a URL link to the project resource folder on your zoo account. (Set permissions for this folder to public.)
  • Assignment 3 - Field photography

    Photograph with a digital camera or high resolution smartphone each site being documented from as close as possible to the same viewpoint as the original image. Try to match time of day. Be sure the camera is set to take the images at 1024 pixels wide or higher and in the "fine" or highest quality (least compression) jpg mode.

    For each image, record:

    This information should be recorded in a spreadsheet (Excel) and saved to your publicly accessible zoo account. Submit this assignment by sending an email to thomas.visser@uvm.edu with a link to the field photo spreadsheet file on your UVM zoo account.

    Assignment 4 - Historical research

    Develop a narrative that documents the history your assigned sites, drawing on both archival sources and the findings of your field research. Your research should expand the body of knowledge about the history of these sites through the use of the rich collection of primary source archival materials available at the University of Vermont Library and other archives and on-line sources. These primary source materials could include historic maps, historic photographs, city directories, aerial imagery, and newspapers, as well as possibly, census records, business listings, insurance records, probate records, letters, et cetera. Also after your initial primary research, consult such secondary source materials, such as the Vermont historic sites and structures surveys (available at UVM Library Special Collections) and resources available through the city of Burlington. These may be used for critical review, however the goal of this project is not to reiterate information from secondary sources. Rely first on primary sources and physical evidence. Then put your findings into context. Compare your research findings with a critical review of secondary sources. Always be skeptical of the research of others!

    The historical narrative for each site should be thoroughly proof-read and produced in a professional manner on paper (approximately three to five pages of text for each image) with proper citations of all sources using end notes as described in the Chicago Manual of Style and bound. An edited digital version will be used for the web site.

    Supplement your historical narrative on each site with representative photographs. Enrich your narrative with illustrations of other historic (and other older) images, drawings and maps.

    Only use images that in the public domain and that you have permission to use if owned by someone other than yourself. For images obtained from the UVM Library or other archives, you should request permission for their use for this project. Each illustration should have a figure number and a detailed caption that identifies the subject, direction of view, original photographer (if known), and the archive from with the image was obtained.

    Submit this assignment on paper, bound with staples or in a 3-hole folder, but save a digital copy to your zoo account HP 206 project folder.

    Assignment 5 - Map

    Using on-site measurements, field notes, and photographs, produce a digital map or maps that show the locations of the sites that you have documented in your research project.

    The goal of this assignment is to help you become familiar with digital tools available for making maps that identify locations of historic resources. (If you would like to use CAD, Illustrator, Photoshop or another application to make a map, this would be fine, but be sure to save a copy as a jpg image at the proper pixel size for posting on your web site.)

    Product: Upload your site plan map(s) to the web. Submit this assignment by sending an email to Thomas.Visser@uvm.edu with a link to a web page.

    Assignment 6 - Digital Presentation

    Organize your research findings into a condensed 10 minute (no longer) digital presentation using Powerpoint or Keynote. Briefly introduce yourself and your project, then summarize your findings illustrated with representative images from your research. Bring your presentation to class saved in a file with your name in the file name on a USB flash drive or on your laptop computer.

    Assignment 7 - Web Publishing

    We will develop a template format for the class project web site together. Based on this template, convert your historical research and images into web pages. These pages should have an introduction with a table of contents directory, a summary of the history of your sites, maps that identify the location of each site surveyed, historical maps, and other information. Post the files in proper folders, accessible to everyone on the web using your UVM account. When finished, e-mail the URL for your section of the web site to Thomas.Visser@uvm.edu. This work will be included in a web site that may be published by the UVM Historic Preservation Program for full public access with the understanding that it may be edited as needed in the future and that everything submitted should be suitable for publication.


    Grades on assignments will reflect the quality of the work and its professional appearance and organization.

    Required texts

    Garvin, James. A Building History of Northern New England. Hanover: University Press of New England. 2001. (Several copies are on reserve in Wheeler 103.)
    Burns, John, Ed. Recording Historic Structures. Washington: AIA. 1989. (Several copies are on reserve in Wheeler 103.)
    Visser, Thomas. Field Guide to New England Barns & Farm Buildings. Hanover: University Press of New England. 1996. (Several copies are on reserve in Wheeler 103.)
    Visser, Thomas. Porches of North America. Hanover: University Press of New England. 2012. (Several copies are on reserve in Wheeler 103.)

    Recommended readings

    Brand, Stewart. How Buildings Learn. Penguin Books. 1995.
    McAlester, Virginia Savage. A Field Guide to American Houses (Revised). New York: Knopf. 2015.


    Recommended equipment

    USB flash drive
    Digital camera (at least 8 mega-pixel)
    Laptop computer

    *Optional HP 206 travel grant scholarships

    Historic preservation graduate students enrolled in HP 206 may request a travel grant scholarship to attend either the 2017 Association for Preservation Technology International annual conference in Ottawa, Ontario or the 2017 Historic New England Field School in Professional Practice in Shirley, Massachusetts. Both events are scheduled for October 13 & 14, 2017.

    Up to $1000 for allowable expenses may be requested for a HP 206 travel grant scholarship. Allowable expenses may include transportation and accommodation expenses and conference/worshop fees at student rates. According to University and federal policies, these will be considered scholarships and will be handled according to University accounting procedures discussed at http://www.uvm.edu/policies/acct/scholarships.pdf. Funding for the HP 206 travel grant scholarships is provided by the Historic Preservation Program Endowment Fund through the generosity of private donations to the UVM Historic Preservation Program.

    All travel shall be at the student's own risk. All travel and lodging arrangements and liabilities are the responsibility of each student. Students are also responsible for passports required for international travel. The University of Vermont, its faculty and staff shall bear no liability for risks associated with the travel supported by these grants. The attendance of any faculty or staff of the University of Vermont at any conferences, events or places visited by award recipients shall not imply any liability for the students by the faculty or staff or the University of Vermont.

    Students will be required to sign a Memorandum of Agreement before travel grant scholarship funds are provided. Only complete and satisfactory applications will be receive awards. Advance arrangements must be made so as to avoid conflicts with any scheduled classes or teaching assistantship responsibilities.

    As pre-registration is required to attend either professional event, travel grant scholarship applications may be submitted by students enrolled in HP 206 by email to Prof. Visser in advance. The deadline for HP 206 travel grant scholarships applications will be one month before requested travel dates.

    HP 206 travel grant scholarships applications shall include the following information:

    1. Name, email address, mailing address and telephone number of the applicant;
    2. A statement of purpose for the grant, including a discussion of how this award will support the development of professional historic preservation career goals;
    3. A planned day-to-day itinerary including modes of travel and accomodations and names, addresses and telephone numbers of the conferences or training workshops to be attended. Note: The purpose of these grants is not to fund expenses associated with sight-seeing or pleasure trips.
    4. A detailed budget of anticipated expenses for which reimbursement is being requested.

    HP 206 travel grant scholarships applications will be assessed according to the following criteria:

    1. The potential for learning about the professional practice of historic preservation;
    2. Exposure to the roles of preservation professionals;
    3. Potential for career development;
    4. Schedule and itinerary;
    5. Budget.

    Each HP 206 travel grant scholarship will be awarded through written notification that will include a letter of agreement that must be signed by the recipient and returned to Prof. Visser, the director of the Historic Preservation Program before travel commences and before expenses are incurred.

    HP 206 travel grant scholarship completion reports are required to be submitted to Prof. Visser by all travel grant recipients within one week of return from travel. These will then be reviewed and forwarded with a request to initiate payments through the University of Vermont as scholarships. This process of review for possible scholarship reimbursement may take a month or more. If satisfactory completion reports are not submitted by two weeks before the last class in the semester, the grant will be forfeited. The following information is to be included in the travel grant scholarship report:

    1. A letter of acknowledgment;
    2. The actual travel itinerary including names and addresses of the conference events and/or training workshops attended;
    3. A one-page summary of what your learned about historic preservation by attending the workshop or conference.
    4. An expense accounting on a travel form that meets the requirements of the UVM Accounting Department with original receipts attached for all reimbursable expenses.

    © T. Visser - UVM Historic Preservation Program, rev. November 1, 2017