Architecture / Building / HABS Supplemental Material


Often while researching a structure for the preparation of HABS reports, important documents and early views are found. This information will be of interest to a researcher using the HABS collection, especially if the item is not readily available in another collection. Copies of these items can be included for reference purposes. There are two methods of retaining copies, either as part of the HABS report or with the field notes.


All items must be placed in the public domain. Written permission from the owner of the original item must be obtained before the item is placed in the collection. The owner must understand that the item is in the public domain and is available for reproduction without further approval from the owner. Credit lines can be requested but not enforced by the Library of Congress. Be aware of copyrighted items. They cannot be placed in the public domain unless the copyright has expired or the author has issued a written release.


As part of the HABS report: The item must be reproducible, according to HABS standards. If a photograph is accompanied by a large format negative and is not under copyright restrictions, it can be placed with the photographs for a structure. If a negative is not available, the photograph is xeroxed as part of the report. Copies of items, such as illustrations in books or historic photographic views, should be in the public domain or accompanied by a signed copyright release form; these items also should not be available in other collections or repositories. If they are part of another collection or are copyrighted, please note their existence, location, and ordering details in the “Sources of Information” section of the HABS report. Reference-only xerox copies may be made and filed in the field notes.


Xerox copies of written material–such as deeds, inventories, articles, and construction specificationsor graphic material, such as floor plans or early views, can be submitted. These items will be xeroxed onto 8-1/2″ x 11″ archival bond and included with the report. A complete bibliographic citation is necessary.


As part of field records: The field records for a structure consist of reference material that is not part of the formal HABS documentation, but is placed in the Library of Congress and is available to researchers who go there. It is not reproduced in the microfiche of the HABS collection. The field records usually include the original field notebooks used to prepare the HABS measured drawings, the 35mm photographs taken by recording team members, and any supplemental material of importance.


Various types of duplicate items may be added to the field material. Photographic prints of items, such as early views and architectural drawings, can be made and filed with the field material. The print can be made from a 35mm negative, which is less expensive than the largeformat negative required for the formal documentation. Also, the negative need not be supplied with the print. Large-scale items, such as architectural drawings, maps, site plans, etc., can be folded and placed in the field records.


Because the field records are less accessible to researchers, careful judgment is required as to what to put where. Discuss this with your supervisor.



Although a full set of HABS measured drawings is desired for nearly every building, such an

undertaking is not always possible, due to funding and time constraints. A HABS drawing usually

involves hand-measuring every detail, drawing it to scale, and finally inking it on mylar. A full set

HABS Historical Reports: Supplemental Material, page 60

of drawings includes plans and elevations, as well as sections and details; sometimes an

axonometric view is included.


When there is less time or fewer architects, a simple floor plan drawing (whether found during the

research process or traced by the historian) can go a long way toward illustrating important

aspects of the building that are not portrayed in the photographs. While these drawings do not

meet HABS standards, they can be an informative supplement to a historical report.



The standard reference guides used by HABS/HAER for grammar and punctuation are the

Chicago Manual of Style and A Manual for Writers (Turabian, 5th edition). In addition–and

sometimes as an exception–to these references, there are additional matters of style germane to

architectural and technical subject matter. Above all, be consistent.


years: 1930s, ’30s

not Thirties, and never 1930’s using an apostrophe

1850-60, 1850-1940

do not repeat century unless it changes

always include the decade, ie., not 1850-7

first quarter of the nineteenth century

not first quarter of the 1800s

spring 1888, December 1900


do not capitalize season, or state as “summer of 1969”


do not use a comma, as in “December, 1900”


dates: July 4, 1776, was a great day.

note comma after the year


  1. 1850: not c. or circa (written out)


towns: Omaha, Nebraska, is a lovely town.

note comma after the state


numbers/numerals: All numbers from one to ninety-nine are written out, while 100 and above are cited as numerals, except in the case of ages, street numbers, dimensions, and millions.


For example: “In 1850-60, an estimated forty-seven miners traveled more than 650 miles across the western states. Many did not live past the age of 40, although one 89-year-old man lived into the twentieth century. He lived at 37 Gold Rush Ave. The frame dwelling was a 10′-4″ x 12′-0″ space and cost only $577.00 when the old man bought it in December 1898, yet legend says he was worth $2 million.”


nineteenth century, eighteenth century, eighteenth-century dogma

not 19th century or 18th-C (see hyphenations below)


percent: 0.7 percent, 50 percent; always use a numeral, and only in a chart or graph may % be used


money: $5.87, $24.00, $24.25, $234.98, 1 cent, 10 cents, 99 cents.

do not write out dollars.


dimensions: measurements and dimensions are never written out; they always appear as numerals, and feet or inches are always indicated using technical symbols, with two types of exceptions.

For example: “Two families live at 333 Third St., which is the historic town lot


No. 146. The Byrnes live on the first floor, where the bedroom is 12′-6″ x 9′-0″, the bathroom is 5′-0″ x 4′-0″-3/4″, and the kitchen is only about 8′ square. The second-story space has been remodeled into two equal-sized 12′-0″-wide rooms with four large windows that measure nearly 5′ tall.”


20′-6″ x 18′-0″


2″ x 4″



use a lowercase x, not “by”

use apostrophes and quotation marks for feet and inches, respectively

hyphenate all feet and inches numerals, and any fractions indicate an even measurement with -0″


Note: When punctuating dimensions, commas fall outside the inches/feet marks: The planks measured . . . 10′-6″, 5′-2-1/3″, and 2′-0″.

exception 1: 10 cubic feet and 10 square feet, not 10 cubic’

exception 2: approximate measurements do not require the -0″: ie.,  The three commercial buildings are about 20′ wide and 40′ deep.



222 Packard St.

capitalize and abbreviate street, avenue, boulevard, etc., but not short items such as road or lane, when the number prefaces the street name


Sam lived on Packard Street.

write out and capitalize street when no number is given


It is at the intersection of Packard and Mills streets.

when two proper names (also true of companies, rivers, etc.) are listed, do not capitalize street


The houses surveyed are No. 15 and No. 27 Mill Street.

The deed cites lot No. 146.

“number(s)” is always capitalized and abbreviated as No. or Nos.

(Also: LaSalle, Illinois, is a No. 1 town.)


Interstate 66 , U.S. 30 or Route 30

write out and capitalize “interstate” on first reference.

Subsequent references are abbreviated, i.e., I-66


capitalization: U.S. government, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. exports, the U.S. Army write out “United States” when it is the noun, but not when it is an adjective; do not place a space between U. and S.


acronyms: write out the complete name on first reference, putting the proper name’s acronym in parentheses afterward; thereafter use the acronym only:

For example: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) have an agreement to study historic barns in the United States, but the SAH is unsure of the USDA’s commitment.


hyphenations: many phrases are clarified when augmented by a hyphen; the following architectural terminology is clarified by employing the general rules of hyphenation:


  1. in general, hyphenate an adjectival construction, one that which precedes the subject
  2. in general, do not hyphenate an “ly” word, including “federally”
  3. do not hyphenate “late” or “early” before a century


one-over-one-light double-hung sash: write out the numbers, not 1/1 double-hung sash

bird’s-eye view, bull’s-eye window

load-bearing brick wall; but the brick wall is load bearing

stained-glass windows; but the windows contain stained glass

side-hall and center-hall plans; but the house has a center hall

third-floor window, but the window is on the third floor

rough-cut stone

five- and seven-course bond (note division form in a series); but American bond is laid in seven or five courses

single-family and multi-family dwelling

gable-end chimney; but the chimney is on the gable end

side-gable roof

canal-era, Civil War-era structure (not Civil-War-era)

bead-and-reel molding; the molding motif is bead and reel

standing-seam (metal roof)

nineteenth-century lighthouse

but do not hyphenate a “late” or “early,” ie., a late eighteenth-century springhouse

Palladian-style, . . . a Mission-style roofline

append “-styleto an established architectural term if your subject is reminiscent of the original but not an example of the actual model; this is not to be confused with proper names such as International Style, which take capital letters and would not be hyphenated



single word:

beltcourse, stringcourse


gristmill, sawmill


Neoclassical (not neoclassical, Neo-classical)


wraparound porch

powerhouse, but power plant

jerkinhead (roof)


two words:

row house

bell tower

concrete block, concrete-block base

main line



HABS Historical Reports: Supplemental Material, page 63





facade vs. elevation
a facade is the wall of a building, usually the front; an elevation is a drawing of a wall


interior vs. inside; exterior vs. outside
interior and exterior connote defined boundaries, while the others are nonspecific


concrete vs. cement
cement is the dry mix to which water and aggregate are added to make concrete


cinder block vs. concrete block
cinder block is made with a lightweight cinder aggregate and is widely used for interior partitions; concrete block is heavier, stronger and used in structural walls


the first-floor facade of a commercial structure, not the entire front facade


glazing, lights, panes, sash, windows, fenestration
in architectural parlance, windows can be described in general as glazing; units of windows are lights, not panes; lights grouped into a frame are sash; fenestration indicates a number and arrangement of window openings in a facade


L-plan vs. ell
buildings take the form of T-plans, H-plans, and L-plans for their resemblance to those letters; anell” is the wing or block, usually a rear add-on, that is the three dimensional version of the wing indicated on the L-plan


molding vs. moulding
in England carved mouldings are commonplace, but in America, we use moldings


mantel vs. mantle
a mantel is the structural support above and the finish around a fireplace; a mantle is an outer wall or casing composed of a separate material than the core apparatus, as in a blast furnace, and it is the feature on a gaslight from which the flame emits


wood vs. wooden
wood is wood; wooden may be hard, durable, and stiff like wood, but it is not necessarily wood (this principle also applies to oak vs. oaken, etc.)


historic vs. historical
historic is the adjective used to denote something that is old and presumably important, i.e., historic building fabric; historical is the adjective used when the subject relates to history, i.e., historical society


lath vs. lathe
lath is a strip of wood used as the groundwork for plaster, as applied to walls (plural, laths); lathe is a machine for shaping circular pieces of wood or metal