This lecture is part of the National Council for Preservation Education meeting held July 15-16, 2014 in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Documenting Preservation History Through Education: The New Orleans Preservation Timeline Project by John H. Stubbs, Tulane University
Documenting the preservation of America’s historic towns, cities and places through institution-based research projects can be a useful and effective tool for both measuring progress and educating future preservationists. Producing preservation histories allow for instruction in archival research and technical writing and enhances appreciation of why purposefully preserved historic places appear and function the way they do. Such research projects also require getting to know the players and determining cause and effect in heritage conservation practice.
The glaring absence of a single source for the history of historic preservation in New Orleans, Louisiana as late as 2013 begged for a book or research project on the subject. After inquiring with local preservationists about the desirability and feasibility of such a project it was determined that Tulane University’s Master of Preservation Studies graduate program would be the ideal seat for such an investigation. When methods of preferred distribution of such material were considered, digital media was deemed preferable to book form. From this position the web-based Tulane MPS-based New Orleans Preservation Timeline project was established.
The New Orleans Preservation Timeline is an effort to bring New Orleans’ rich and significant preservation past, present and future to life. The events that led to the safeguarding of one of the nation’s most extraordinarily wellendowed historic cities — as well as the losses that have been suffered — have left a legacy from which the world can learn. It also serves as an educational resource for those interested in the progress and key accomplishments of architectural preservationists working in the region of New Orleans since the mid-nineteenth century.
Phase I of the Timeline project was launched at the MPS program’s biennial Preservation Matters conference in mid-April 2014 and can be accessed at http://architecture.tulane.edu/preservation-project/. The initial phase mainly established the custom-designed program containing key time categories, entry templates and cross-links.
The project currently includes the first thirty-five representative entries that were originally researched and written as an inaugural project of graduate students via the MPS program’s Introduction to Preservation class taught by John Stubbs. Over seventy additional entries have been drafted that are currently being refined through the project’s information vetting process, which includes consultation with leading practitioners in the field. Corrections, enhancements, and suggestions for future entries are welcomed by preservationists, historians and the community alike towards producing a resource that is accessible online to a global audience.