At the time of this writing, more than 1,000 historic college and university campuses or historic properties used by colleges in the United States are included in the National Register of Historic Places. (1) Listing in the National Register recognizes historic campuses, supports their preservation, and encourages appreciation of their value as part of the nation's heritage. The National Park Service expands and maintains the National Register and administers federal grants and other programs that assist in preserving historic properties on college and university campuses. (2) For example, nearly 60 colleges and universities have received Save America's Treasures grants to help preserve nationally significant historic properties since 2000. (3) The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, whose purpose was to jump-start the economy, create or save jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges, included $15 million to be competitively awarded to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the preservation of campus buildings listed in the National Register. (4) As of October 2010, 20 HBCUs have received recovery grants that benefit historic properties on their campuses. (5)
The National Park Service actively educates the public about registered historic places on college and university campuses and encourages people to visit them through its Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary Series. More than 50 Discover Our Shared Heritage travel itineraries are available to date in the series, which describes and promotes several thousand historic places. (6) Found on the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/, the itineraries are created in partnership with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers; federal, state, and local governments; and private organizations nationwide that are working with the National Park Service to promote heritage education and tourism.
The itineraries help the public learn about and plan trips that link visits to a variety of historic places. Many communities and individual sites, including historic campuses, will not be on a traveler's agenda unless they are part of an itinerary with a number of interesting sites and destinations. By linking historic places found in communities and national parks, the itineraries encourage visits and lead Internet travelers worldwide to more information on historic places in the National Register and to additional useful information. The itineraries support institutions, property owners, and communities in raising public awareness of historic places and using heritage tourism for fund-raising and economic development.
A number of the itineraries feature historic properties on college and university campuses. The government agencies and organizations working with the National Park Service to develop the itineraries selected these heritage sites because they are important assets. Spotlighting historic campuses and the architecture of academic institutions fosters an appreciation of each college or university's history and pride in its heritage among administrators, students, alumni, and potential donors. Historic campuses give colleges and universities their unique identities, making them more attractive to students, visitors, and others.
The Discover Our Shared Heritage itineraries focus on communities, regions, and National Heritage Areas or on themes such as civil rights, the Underground Railroad, American presidents, aviation, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and places where women made history. Each itinerary includes contextual essays with background information, individual web pages for each site that provide descriptions taken mostly from National Register registration documentation, photographs, and advice on how to plan a visit. Maps make it easy to get to each destination. A "Learn More" section offers links to websites of featured historic places and to websites focused on tourism, historic preservation, and other related areas. …