Recent Theme Studies

Manzanar National Historic Site cemetery with mountains in background
Manzanar National Historic Site, CA

NPS Photo

Recently Published National Historic Landmark Theme Studies

Finding A Path Forward: Asian American Pacific Islander National Historic Landmarks Theme Study (2018)

This theme study was carried out as part of the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Initiative.

The Era of Reconstruction: 1861-1900 (2017)

LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Queer History (2016)


This theme study was carried out as part of the LGBTQ Heritage Initiative.

American Latino Heritage (2013)

This theme study was carried out as part of the American Latino Heritage Initiative.

Japanese Americans in World War II (2012)

In 1991, Congress authorized the National Park Service to prepare a National Historic Landmark theme study on Japanese Americans during World War II. The purpose of this study was to identify historic places that best exemplify and illustrate the period from 1941 to 1946 when Japanese Americans and Japanese aliens were ordered to be detained, relocated, or excluded pursuant to Executive Order 9066 and other actions. Thirty-seven properties were identified in H.R. 543, the enabling legislation for the Manzanar National Historic Site. This theme study is based in large part upon Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites, as well as information included in Report to the President: Japanese-American Internment Sites Preservation. The study was completed in August 2012. In 2013, as part of various heritage initiatives implemented by the Program, a study focusing on the larger Asian American and Pacific Islander community was initiated.

American Aviation Heritage: Identifying and Evaluating Nationally Significant Properties in U.S. Aviation History (2011)

Few technological advances have transformed the American economy, society, culture, and national character as the development of powered flight. Our nation’s leadership in both civil and military aviation set the foundation for the twentieth century to be an American century. With the centennial of the first powered flight in 2003, the preservation of properties nationally significant in the history of aviation was recognized as an important goal. However, while many aircraft, rockets, and spacecraft have been preserved in museum settings, many sites, structures, buildings, and objects associated with this story are not protected for future generations.

To ensure the preservation of these important properties, the National Park Service and the United States Air Force partnered to prepare a theme study on the history of American aviation that identifies the sites, districts, buildings, structures, and landscapes that best illustrate or commemorate key events in the history of American aviation. The theme study was launched on March 10, 2003, at a public event at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field. The theme study was completed in 2011. One of the many properties identified for further study via the theme study, the 1956 Grand Canyon TWA-United Airlines Aviation Accident Site in Arizona, was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2014.

Protecting America: Cold War Defensive Sites Theme Study (draft 2011)

On March 30, 2009, P.L. 111-11 was passed directing the National Park Service to develop a Cold War (1945-1991) theme study focusing on military sites. The study provides a basic context for the Cold War and the effects of Cold War politics on the development of weapons systems and defense programs in the United States, and the inherent military challenges faced within this unique context. Property types considered under this study include intercontinental ballistic missile sites, flight training centers, manufacturing facilities, and nuclear weapons test sites, among other site types. The draft study was completed in October 2011.

Last updated: November 16, 2018