The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts worthy of preservation for their significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, and culture. The National Register was established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that as a matter of public policy, properties significant in national, state, and local history are considered in the planning of federal undertakings, and to encourage preservation initiatives by state and local governments and the private sector.
Cultural Resources on land and underwater may be considered for listing on the National Register if they are resources:
A. That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
B. That are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
C. That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
D. That have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
The OSA maintains records of significant archaeological sites – like Native American villages, shipwrecks, and colonial plantations – that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Sites under consideration for the NRHP but not listed are reviewed and inventoried by the OSA for purposes of resource protection and scientific research.