A Historic Preservation Survey

What does historic preservation mean to you? Is it a movement, a field of study, an avocation, a trade? How do you classify yourself: student, professional, amateur? Lately I’ve been wondering how people in the field view preservation and how they view themselves in the context of the field. If you can, please take the time to read the questions below and leave a comment (anonymously is fine if necessary). Choose an answer and explain. If you a reader of Preservation in Pink, your answers will interest me. I am hoping to work it into the next newsletter.  Thank you!

Question 1: What is Historic Preservation to you?

a) a field of study

b) a profession

c) a movement

d) a trade

e) an avocation

f) a lifestyle

g) more than one: list them

h) other


Question 2: Categorize yourself.

a) student

b) professional

c) concerned citizen

d) other


Please add any other comments that you feel relate to this matter.


5 thoughts on “A Historic Preservation Survey

  1. Kaitlin says:

    I’ll go first.

    Question 1: Historic preservation can mean all of the above, but to me it is first and foremost a lifestyle and a profession.

    Question 2: I am currently a student, but I would also consider myself a professional.

    I never stop thinking about historic preservation.

  2. Maria says:

    The answer is always all of the above! But I agree with you Kate, lifestyle and profession top the list. It dictates everything from where I live to where i go out to eat! (its soo much more fun to eat in an old brewery or warehouse than in a strip mall!)

    And I am a currently a professional.

  3. landau says:

    Not that I’m a historic preservationist, but I’d answer question 1 with a, b, and f. I think it’s too important to be called a movement (what will happen when it stops moving?!); I consider a trade more like… a locksmith; and I’m not entirely sure what an avocation or a vocation is. I guess I consider historic preservation an idea, really, that is complex enough to be integrated with academia as a “field of study”. One may or may not consider oneself a historic preservation professional (or on the other hand, any given ‘professional’ may or may consider oneself a historic preservationist). Because it’s an idea, it may also be ideological for some, and thus yes, a way of living or being, an aspect of group solidarity and/or self-identity.

    Categorize myself: I’d say I’m a, c and other. Being a student of anthropology, I believe that science for only the sake of science is a perversion of itself. If academics are not also “concerned citizens” this is just unethical. The purpose of education – to acquire knowledge and make the world a better place – has been lost. If your research has no ‘broader impacts’ or ‘implications’, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. It seems like historic preservation, perhaps more than anthropology and other more traditional disciplines, really get this.

  4. Kelly says:

    I’d say it is all of those, but I’d go with historic preservation as a movement, a lifestyle more than anything else. To me, historic preservation is an umbrella term covering a lot of more specific but related trades and professions. When I tell people I work in preservation, I often feel the need to drop the “historic” part, and/or explain that I’m less interested in the past- stories about “what once was” are great and everything, but I’m interested in what we still have today in the present, and what we can do with that. That sense of place. To me, preservation means a thoughtful approach to cultural, architectural resources, to our environment- I suppose as a part of the larger movement of taking a thoughtful approach to life!

    I’m currently a professional, but looking at again becoming a student!

  5. Nicholas says:

    1. I think the main gist of preservation is understood by many whether they realize it to be a movement around the world or not. I see preservation as all of that list. The part that makes it a movement, I believe, is the fact that there is an opposition to the common sense ideal: maintain what we have. And I think it can become a way of life for people that experience that opposition daily. I think it becomes dangerous when it becomes an ideology, though. I personally don’t believe anything to be sacred when it comes to architecture and the built world. None of it is intrinsically valuable. We have to realize that the only value it has is the value we give it. I’m most interested in preservation from the angle of the practical: adaptive use, urban revitalization, etc.

    2. Just a student right now.

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