Criteria for Marker Inscriptions
Historic markers are designed to span generations. By obtaining one, you’re doing a service to your community and the public at large. To help ensure the highest quality marker inscriptions, we have established the following criteria:
- The marker inscription must be proven using primary source documentation.
- The marker subject must be historically significant to the larger community or beyond.
- Inscriptions must be clear about why the subject (i.e. person, place, thing, event) is historically significant.
- Key dates must be included when necessary for framing context; however, the inscription should not be written simply as a list of dates.
- Inscriptions should maximize available character limits.
- The marker must recognize a historical fact that occurred more than 100 years from the time a final application is submitted. Currently the time frame is 1740-1920.
Guidelines for Buildings, Cemeteries, Farms, Places of Worship and Schools
Particular attention to historical significance must be provided when submitting an application for subjects in any of the following areas: buildings, cemeteries, family farms, places of worship and schools. If your application falls into one of these areas, consult the following guidelines:
- Buildings and Homes – Regardless of the type of structure, primary sources must prove the building or home’s historical significance to the larger community or beyond. For example, a building or home might have served an important purpose, was designed by a prominent architect or had a noteworthy resident. If you are commemorating a noteworthy resident, focus the marker inscription on the person, not the structure. You should address how the person’s historical significance had an impact on the larger community (i.e. town, city, county, etc.). Consider mentioning if the person served in local government, prominent civic organizations or was a business leader. Applications regarding buildings and homes that still exist or remain actively used are strongly preferred. If the structure no longer exists, your chances of a successful application are limited.
- Cemeteries – Consider if any noteworthy figures are interred there. That information should be included in the marker inscription and must be proven with primary sources. Applications for markers recognizing unmarked or abandoned cemeteries without signage are welcomed. For those who want to commemorate Revolutionary War soldiers’ and veterans’ burials only, submit your application through our Patriot Burials Historic Marker Program in partnership with the Empire State Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
- Family farms – Demonstrate the farm’s historical significance to the larger community (e.g. its operation did something pioneering; there was a far-reaching impact) or the farm property still retains an important feature unique to the area (e.g. lime kilns).
- Places of worship – Identify connections to noteworthy events and/or historical figures. As with all inscriptions, the proposed text must include a more historical context than simply listing out key dates.
- Schools – There must be a historical significance to the larger community that goes beyond serving a specific portion of the school district. Ideally, the marker will commemorate a school building that still exists or even remains an active educational site. Applications that also prove a noteworthy individual attended are encouraged.
If a significant person, place, thing or event falls outside of these guidelines, you are welcome to submit an LOI. However, the Foundation has the final determination as to whether your application moves forward.
Criteria Revised: 3/31/2020