If you don’t want to read all this, just click GET STARTED.
What should I take pictures of?
The National Register of Historic Places WikiProject on Wikipedia has organized the more than 87,000 monuments and sites on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). These lists are categorized by state and by county, with identifying information about the monument or site, including address and geo-coordinates. You can even print out a walk list and map with a simple click of a button.
You can find NRHP sites in your area by visiting this page on Wikipedia. Likewise, you can use the search box on Wikipedia and enter “List of RHPs in XX”, where “XX” is the postal code of your state. “RHPs” is short for “Registered Historic Places”. There will be a list of counties in the state on the page. Click on a county name and you’ll be taken to a list of the NRHP sites in that county. These are the sites that are eligible for the contest and the ones we hope you’ll photograph.
You may also notice that there are some sites that do not have photos yet. These are the sites that we’d really love for you to photograph. Most of them will have an address and geographical coordinates. Click on the coordinates to see a map of the site’s location. That’s where you need to go to take the photograph.
Some sites already have photographs included in their table entry. Think you can take a better photo? Please do, and upload it to Wikimedia Commons! You can even take multiple photos of the same site – interior and exterior shots, specific architectural details, different times of day, different angles. While there is no need for multiple shots of the same feature, from the same angle, at the same time of day, it’s good practice to take several shots and upload the best.
The slide presentation “Working with WikiProject:National Register of Historic Places” will give you an overview of the process. A YouTube video of a 20 minute talk at WikiMania may also be of interest.
What should I NOT take pictures of?
- Please don’t make people the focus of your photos, rather concentrate on the buildings.
- Many NRHP sites are privately owned. Please respect the owners’ privacy and don’t trespass.
- Some sites are listed as “Address Restricted” to protect, for example, archeological sites from looters. While some of these sites have been protected in other ways and opened to the public, please don’t photograph any “Address Restricted” sites for this contest.
- Never take a photo of the interior of a building without the owner’s permission, even through an open window.
- Taking photos of street signs and the like can be very helpful for you to identify the location of the previous photo, but there is usually no need to upload these shots.
Do you have any tips for getting a useful shot?
- Take more than one photo for each historic site. Later you can choose the best ones to upload. There is no limit to how many photographs you can upload.
- Light is the most important element in photography. Try working with the sun at your back, or in the early morning just after dawn, or in the late afternoon just before dusk. There are no firm rules here however: whatever works for you is great.
- If you have an older camera, set the camera to the highest resolution. Most cameras now take photos with over 3 megapixels, which is generally all that is needed for most photos on Wikipedia, but higher resolutions may be useful in some cases and are certainly allowed.
- If you plan to take photos at several sites, use the special Google Map feature and print a map of the sites as well as the text from the NRHP county lists.
- If you take a detailed photograph, such as photo of a tower or a doorway, it’s helpful to also take a photograph of the whole monument or site for context.
- You are free to take any photos you’d like from public roadways, but please respect people’s privacy. Don’t shoot photos through open windows, and for this contest please focus on buildings rather than on people.
- Your photos can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like. Most photographers will try to get a basic overview of the site, in much the same way a newspaper photographer would try to make the building recognizable to people who walk by. But if you want to make the photo more imaginative or artistic, so as to challenge the viewer to see the site in a new way, that’s fine with us.
How do I upload all these fantastic photos I took?
In order to participate in the contest, you need an account on Wikimedia Commons. If you’ve never had an account on Wikimedia or Wikipedia, it’s easy to register and completely free. Fill in a working email address while registering, or we can’t contact you if you win!
To upload, just click on the upload button that will be in the place in the table where you want your photo. The NRHP registration number and coordinates will be automatically entered on the upload form. You can copy the site’s description and other information from the county list, but please do add some information of your own. Click the continue button and the photo will be uploaded, complete with a Creative Commons attribution-share alike (CC-BY-SA) licence, that allows anybody to use the photo as long as they attribute the photo to you. Please make sure the file name is descriptive, rather than the automatic names, such as “DCSN0008921.jpg”, that are commonly assigned by cameras. For example, just rename the file of a photo of a house in Ohio to “R Wright House Marietta OH.jpg”.
Are you unable to upload using Wikimedia Commons? Try using our “Wiki Loves Monuments” Flickr group – just add your Flickr photos to this group and they will be converted (but depending on your Flickr account, you may not be able to enter high resolution photos this way).
After uploading, what should I do?
For purposes of the contest, you are done after uploading.
Go out and take some more photographs!
Photographs of sites that haven’t previous been photographed for our lists will appear on a special page WikiProject National Register of Historic Places/Unused images and experienced Wikipedians will review your photos and decide whether they should go on a county list, or in an article on the historic site. If you know how to edit Wikipedia, you can do this yourself, but we ask that if you are just learning how to edit during the contest, that you hold off editing the county lists. This will help us keep the county lists tidy and in working order for all contest participants.