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The 1992 Amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act, Title IV (16 U.S.C. 470x-Section 405) provide that, “The Secretary, in consultation with the Board, shall provide preservation technology and training grants to eligible applicants with a demonstrated institutional capability and commitment to the purposes of the Center, in order to ensure an effective and efficient system of research, information distribution and skills training in all the related historic preservation fields.”

This report details the Preservation Technology and Training Grants program activities between March 16 and Oct. 16, 2007. NCPTTs grants program supports innovative projects in archeology, historic architecture, historic landscapes, and materials conservation. The focus of these projects is preservation technology.

2008 PTT Grants Call for Proposals

This year for the first time NCPTT implemented a pre-proposal application process. Applicants were required to submit a brief one- to two-page abstract through NCPTT’s website that described their research or training idea. The pre-proposal offered applicants an opportunity to get feedback early in the grants process, while simultaneously allowing NCPTT staff to quickly identify proposals that fit with NCPTT’s mission.

NCPTT continued to ask for proposals within the seven established research priorities and/or that addressed a special initiative. The latter declared:

The aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 brought to light a need for further research into mitigation of storm damage to cultural resources. This Special Initiative gives priority to research that develops or advances technologies to preserve storm damaged cultural resources.

The call for pre-proposals was posted on the website by September 15, 2007. A total of 137 were received by Monday, Oct. 15, 2007. Program chiefs reviewed and responded to each of the pre-proposals within five days of its receipt. Chiefs provided specific comments to help strengthen accepted pre-proposals and to provide future guidance for rejected pre-proposals. A total of 78 pre-proposals were accepted to move forward in the grant process.

NCPTT will continue to foster a simple, streamlined approach to the grant process. The pre-proposal process should ensure a better fit between full proposals and the NCPTT mission, so now NCPTT will turn its attention to streamlining the review process in hopes of accelerating the pace of grant selection, award, and project implementation.

NCPTT plans to convene a national review panel on March 5, 2008 in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

2007 PTT Grants

The 2007 Call for Proposals was mailed to over 2,500 potential applicants and organizations active in preservation and conservation. Application instructions were posted to the NCPTT website in September 2006. Dec. 1, 2006 was the deadline for full proposals. In all, NCPTT received 44 complete proposals from applicants requesting a total of approximately $1.9 million.

The 44 proposals were reviewed in three phases. NCPTT staff first reviewed each of the proposals for conformance with proposal requirements. Outside experts in various preservation and conservation disciplines then reviewed the proposals by program area. Finally, the proposals selected by the peer reviewers were subject to a final review by a panel of government preservation experts and a representative of NCPTT’s advisory board. As part of this national panel review, NCPTT staff reviewed all of the competing proposals to ensure they were adequately distributed across the country, between institutions, and among disciplines. NCPTT’s recommendations for awards were then reviewed by a Heritage Preservation Services senior grants administrator for financial and policy matters.

PTT Grant Awards 2007

In 2007 NCPTT awarded 10 grants funds totaling $350,700:

  • School of Engineering, University of Vermont, $49,900
    Heritage Preservation Engineering: Curriculum Development
  • New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission, $49,200
    Adapting Post-Disaster Data for Local Government Use
  • Princeton University, $48,900
    Diagnosing and Controlling Hygric Swelling of Stone
  • University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, $50,000
    Microbial Detoxification of Mercury Contaminated Museum Collections: Effect of Material Composition on Mercury Removal
  • Cornerstones Community Partnerships, $13,700
    An Emergency Flood Mitigation Manual for Earthen Architecture
  • City of Aspen, Colorado, $23,100
    Conservation of Wooden Artifacts in Cemeteries
  • Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, $14,800
    Aerial Thermal Survey of New Philadelphia, Ill. Town Site
  • Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS – $46,100
    Establishing an Elemental Baseline for Sourcing Shell and Shell-Tempered artifacts in the Eastern Woodlands of North America using Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)
  • University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ – $50,000
    Evaluation of Conservation and Preservation Practices in a Southwest Pottery Collection
  • Voyageurs National Park, MN – $5,000
    Stone Wall Repair Training Workshop

Total Funding: $350,700

Conservation Symposium Focuses on PTT Grants

On Nov. 12, 2007 NCPTT and the New York Conservation Foundation will host Progress in Preservation through NCPTT Grants, sessions I and II, at the Eastern Analytical Symposium in Somerset, New Jersey. Twelve past grant recipients will present the results of their work at the sessions. The projects presented will represent the fields of materials conservation, architecture, archeology, and landscapes. Titles range from “Digital Image Analysis for Petrographic Thin Sections of Cultural Materials” to “Investigations of Mechanical Anchor Strength in Stone Masonry.”

Highlights of Recently Received PTT Grant Products

PTT Grant MT-2210-06-NC-11, Vernacular Wooden Church Steeples in the Eastern United States: Form and Restoration, Interim Report and Articles, Will Beemer, Timber Framers Guild. Beemer’s grant is to fund a publication project focused on wooden church steeples. The goal is to identify characteristic forms and their structural systems, delineate them in drawings, and conduct a structural analysis so that the form and dynamics of thousands of other similar steeples will be better understood. Beemer has published two of four proposed articles in Timber Framing (March 2007 and September 2007), with a third article in press for December. See http://tfguild.org/publications/historicsteeples.html. Status Note: in progress.

PTT Grant MT-2210-06-NC-5, Seeing is Believing: Thermography Aids Historic Preservation, Interim Report &Article, Michael G. Spencer, University of Kentucky. Infrared thermography has become an increasingly important tool in assessing historic structures, but creating a meaningful interpretation of raw data has been a challenge. This project sought to correlate detailed physical characteristics of model architectural structures in various environments with the data obtained from them by means of infrared thermography. Results include an article published in the University of Kentucky’s Alumni journal. This work has leveraged additional funds through the purchase of an infrared camera by the University. Status Note: in progress.

PTT Grant MT-2210-06-NC-4, High Definition Documentation of Archaeology, Glenn Hill (Texas Tech University) Principal Investigator, Kacyra Family Foundation, Interim Report and Webinar. The goal of the grant was to disseminate information on three-dimensional laser scanning to decrease the time required to document the built, structural components of archaeological sites. Hill conducted a two-week training workshop, a two-day overview session, and four four-day workshops at Mesa Verde National Park, which resulted in the documentation of one cliff dwelling. A six-hour webinar for Vanishing Treasures parks is planned for November 2007. Other planned deliverables include a real-time walk-through of Fire Temple. Status Note: in progress.

PTT Grant MT-2210-05-NC-12, Testing the Regional Reliability of Spectral Signatures of Archaeological Phenomena, Final Report, Alan Sullivan, University of Cincinnati. Sullivan designed a predictive satellite model for locating small-scale and low-obtrusive archaeological phenomena using as a case study the Upper Basin or northern Arizona. His study predicted the presence and absence of five types of archaeological sites at high rates: 100% and 99.4%, respectively. The drawback is that the pixel resolution—1 m—is so high that it over-predicts sites. In other words, the resolution is so high that it identifies many possible images as sites, which makes it highly successful but entails the downside of also incorrectly identifying many natural phenomena as sites.

PTT Grant MT-2210-05-NC-11, The Digital Archive of the Cultural Landscape in the Upper Tongue River Valley, Final Report and Documentary, Chere Jiusto, Montana Preservation Alliance. Jiusto and her team studied the cultural landscape of the Tongue River Valley to create a geospatially-linked digital archive of historic sites. More than 100 sites were GPS located, mapped, and digitally archived with cross-linked site forms and photographs. Final products include a report (The Cultural Landscape of the Tongue River Valley) and a one-hour documentary video (Stories Long Remembered: The Ranching History of Birney, Montana). The video has aired on Montana Public Television, and copies have been distributed to county libraries. Status Note: The final report will be accepted pending editorial revision by the author for consistency.

MT-2210-05-NC-10, An Evaluation of Supercritical Drying and PEG/Freeze Drying of Waterlogged Archaeological Wood, Final Report, Eric Shindelholz, The Mariner’s Museum. Shindelholz compared the new supercritical drying method for archaeological wood specimens against traditional air and freeze drying with polyethylene glycol. Freeze drying worked well, air drying did not, and supercritical drying proved to be effective only for some types of wood.

PTT Grant MT-2210-05-NC-09, Merging Aerial Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Satellite Multispectral Data to Inventory Archaeological Sites, Final Report, Douglas C. Comer Principal Investigator, Catalina Island Conservancy. Comer used commercially available aerial/space data to create analytical protocols that identify digital image signatures that correlate with archaeological site locations. Supplementary outside funds created a software prototype that can reduce a 5-hour protocol process to 15 minutes. This could enable land managers to conduct rapid planning-level site inventories over wide areas. Status Note: the final report is under review and acceptance is anticipated, pending receipt of an administrative summary.

PTT Grant MT-2210-05-NC-02, Acoustic Emission and Vibration Correlation, Final Report, David Biggs, PE, Principal Investigator for Fort Ticonderoga Association. Biggs performed testing on four stone-masonry walls to research vibration damage and the feasibility of using acoustic emission technology on historical stone-masonry. The goals of the testing were to assess the correlation of vibration readings to visual structural damage in historical, to determine the feasibility of using acoustic emission technology to detect damage in historical stone-masonry walls, and to determine the feasibility of acoustic emissions to predict signs of distress and sudden failure of historical stone-masonry walls.

PTT Grant 2210-04-NC-13, Evaluation and Monitoring of Culturally Appropriate Treatments for Vandalism at Rock Image Sites, Jeff Van Pelt Principal Investigator, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. This is a report on the results of research carried out under the NCPTT Grant Agreement with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The report details work done to enhance the understanding of Tribal concerns and interests regarding the conservation of rock image cultural heritage sites.

PTT Grant MT-2210-04-NC-11, Lustron On-Line, Interim Report, Jeanne Lambin, National Trust for Historic Preservation. The basic framework for the Lustron website is completed, the content management system for the website has been completed, and much of the text for the content of the website has been produced. It is in the process of being edited and it will be posted in the coming months. The Nominator, Lustron Locator, and Scrapbook are now in their beta form and will be tested in the coming months. Work continues on editing and posting the content for the site. Selected content will be vetted by the Advisory Committee and once all the content of the website is posted, it will be tested in beta-form by the Advisory Committee and selected members of the Lustron Community. A promotional postcard to mail to Lustron owners is in production, as is the press packet to promote the site. Jeanne M. Lambin, National Trust for Historic Preservation. Status Note: in progress.

PTT Grant MT-2210-04-NC-07, Supercritical Fluid Cleaning of Perishable OrganicArtifacts for Non-destructive Radiocarbon Dating, Final Report, Dr. Marvin Rowe, Texas A&M. The goal of this research was to develop a technique for conducting “non-destructive” radiocarbon dating of perishable archaeological artifacts. Preliminary results show that supercritical fluid extraction will very likely provide a non-destructive means of effectively removing humic acid from archaeological artifacts. Combined with plasma-chemical extraction of organic carbon from the artifacts, this could lead to virtually “non-destructive” radiocarbon dating of most perishable, organic archaeological artifacts.

PTT Grant MT-2210-03-NC-08, The Use of Multibeam Swath Bathymetry for the Identification and Assessment of Underwater Archaeological Sites, Dr. Roger D. Flood, Professor, Marine Sciences Research Center Stony Brook University. The project was a two-phase approach to evaluating the use of multibeam swath bathymetry as a new tool for underwater archaeology. The first phase entailed field-work to examine suspected archaeological sites on the bottom of the Hudson River recently identified during the NYS-DEC multibeam survey. The second phase of the proposed project entailed discussing the methods with other workers in the Hudson River and elsewhere in order to review and analyze the study results and to review our experience in the use of multibeam data derived from hydrographic or other surveys to suit archaeological needs.

PTT Grant MT-2210-03-NC-05, Thin-Section Petrography of Cultural Materials: Comprehensive Resource and Training Publication, Dr. Chandra Reedy, University of Delaware, Museum Studies Program. This 639-page book manuscript on the use of thin-section petrography includes and overview of the technology and its context; problems and goals unique to the study of cultural materials; numerous well-illustrated case studies of art, architecture, and archeological objects; and in-depth discussion of innovative approached to digital image analysis and statistical methods for petrographic thin sections.

PTT Grant Number MT-2210-02-NC-02, Video Preservation Website: Migration of Historic Video Tape to Digital Video Files, Tim Vitale Principal Investigator, Bay Area Video Coalition. http://videopreservation.stanford.edu. This thorough website was built and designed as a clearinghouse of information on videotape preservation. In the past, video tapes had to be sent out to a service bureau for preservation where custody was transferred to a non-conservation service provider, and, the expense was relatively high due to a per-item cost that ranged from $200 to 400, or more. This website helps holders of video artifacts to develop their own tools for preserving their video, reducing cash outlay to service providers, eliminating risky shipping of cultural artifacts and ending the loss of intellectual control over the final product.

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119