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The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) online collection includes images of measured drawings, photographs and written histories for various regions of the country.


The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) collections are among the largest and most heavily used in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Since 2000, documentation from the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) has been added to the holdings. The collections document achievements in architecture, engineering, and design in the United States and its territories through a comprehensive range of building types and engineering technologies including examples as diverse as the Pueblo of Acoma, houses, windmills, one-room schools, the Golden Gate Bridge, and buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Administered since 1933 through cooperative agreements with the National Park Service, the Library of Congress, and the private sector, ongoing programs of the National Park Service have recorded America's built environment in multiformat surveys comprising more than 556,900 measured drawings, large-format photographs, and written histories for more than 38,600 historic structures and sites dating from Pre-Columbian times to the twentieth century.

This online presentation of the HABS/HAER collections includes digitized images of measured drawings, black-and-white photographs, color transparencies, photo captions, data pages including written histories, and supplemental materials. Since the National Park Service's HABS, HAER, and HALS programs create new documentation each year, digital images will continue to be added to the online collections.

The AIA and HABS

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National Park Service (NPS), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the Library of Congress re-signed the HABS Tripartite Agreement in 2003. First signed in 1933, the agreement created the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) to document America's historic structures and to create work for architects, draftsmen, and photographers left jobless by the Great Depression.

Now the oldest federal preservation program still in existence, (and, in fact, the longest lasting official partnership between a private organization and the federal government), HABS has played a leading role in preserving America's culture through documentation of important civic structures. Its mission has always been to create a lasting archive of America's historic architecture.

The AIA Presidential Citation Award presented to HABS reads:

Presented to the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) to celebrate seven decades of distinguished service to the design and construction professions and the public, whose memories, values, and dreams are reflected in glass, wood, stone, and steel. The rigor of their science and the passion of their commitment as enlightened stewards of America's irreplaceable design heritage have yielded one of the world's largest cultural and historic resources archives, thus ensuring that the past will continue an essential, inspirational dialogue with posterity.

Chapline Street Row Historic District, Wheeling, WV

[Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS, Reproduction number HABS WVA,35-WHEEL,9-]

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Built in America: HABS / HAER / HALS, 1933-Present

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