Book: Recording Historic Structures

If you are involved in researching and documenting historic structures (buildings, structures) one of the best books you can invest in is Recording Historic Structures, edited by John A. Burns (see here).  The book covers documentation standards for HABS and HAER, discussing how to properly photograph buildings, teaching readers how to do conduct thorough historical research, and how to do measurements and drawings. Basically, this is everything you need to know for being up to par with the standards of the National Park Service. The lessons in the book are understandable and supplemented with case studies, photographs, and documents.

Aside from the technical side, the book often gives the readers thought provoking statements. One of my favorites so far is, “The effectiveness of the primary sources will depend on the questions being asked” (p. 28). It may sound obvious, but it’s a statement to remind me to stay on my toes. Even if you have all of the information in front of you, it’s only useful if you know how to use it and how something is significant to research.

I read this book for my documentation at the University of Mary Washington and I’m reading it again at UVM. While some may not want to read a textbook more than once, I’m finding that I am learning more the second time around. The beautiful hardcover book is worth the $75 investment, because it you gain more in knowledge and the book serves as a good reference manual.