A Brief History of Preservation Month
Every year in May, local preservation groups, state historical societies, and business and civic organizations across the country celebrate Preservation Month through events that promote historic places and heritage tourism, and that demonstrate the social and economic benefits of historic preservation.
Preservation Month began as National Preservation Week in 1973. In 2005, the National Trust extended the celebration to the entire month of May and declared it Preservation Month to provide an even greater opportunity to celebrate the diverse and unique heritage of our country’s cities and states.
Preservation Month 2023
This year’s Preservation Month theme is “People Saving Places,” a national high-five to everyone doing the great work of saving places—in ways big and small—and inspiring others to do the same. Want to help spread the word in your community? Sign up for email and be among the first to receive a Preservation Month 2023 marketing kit with ready-to-use copy and images for all your digital outreach.
The first National Preservation Week was celebrated on May 6-12, 1973. At the annual meeting on October 27, 1972, in Washington, D.C., Donald T. Sheehan, a member of the Trustees Advisory Committee on Membership & Public Relations, proposed the idea of the National Preservation Week as a “means of relating local and state preservation progress to the national effort for the mutual benefits of both.” The National Trust chose the second week of May because it coincided with the organization's annual award luncheon, then in its third year.
A Joint Congressional Resolution was introduced on February 15, 1973, by Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee to designate the week of May 6-12, 1973, as National Preservation Week. President Richard Nixon signed the resolution into law on May 5, 1973.
First Lady Patricia Nixon, who presented the National Trust awards during the third annual Awards Luncheon in the Decatur House Garden on May 8th, also read the Presidential proclamation:
“As the pace of change accelerates in the world around us, Americans more than ever need a lively awareness of our roots and origins in the past on which to base our sense of identity in the present and our directions for the future.”
Mayors and governors throughout the country have since added their proclamations to President Nixon's.
Donate Today to Help Save the Places Where Our History Happened.
Donate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation today and you'll help preserve places that tell our stories, reflect our culture, and shape our shared American experience.