Applying for a New Historical Marker
The Georgia Historical Society produces and erects new historical markers each year, working in partnership with community organizations, municipalities, and businesses. The process for obtaining a new historical marker is competitive and requires the submission of application materials. For more information about applying for a historical marker, program guidelines, costs, and other frequently asked questions, please read below.
Developing Your Historical Marker Application
All historical marker applications are due to the Georgia Historical Society by July 1st each year. Applications are then reviewed by the independent Historical Marker Review Committee at their annual meeting in late summer. Applications will not be reviewed at any other point during the year. Applicants will be informed in writing of the Committee’s decision by the end of August each year. Results will not be given over the phone.
The Marker Application Checklist below outlines all requirements for submitting a historical marker application. Those requirements include a signed easement from the property owner(s) of the proposed marker site, a signed agreement from the sponsoring organization(s), images of the subject of the marker and of the proposed installation site, completed documentation worksheet, and research paper.
|Completed documentation worksheet|
|Completed research paper with citations (see examples below)|
|Bibliography of sources consulted for the research paper|
|Supporting images of nomination|
|City or county map of proposed marker site|
|DOT approval letter, if applicable|
Sponsor Agreement(s) and Property Owner Easement – (can not be substituted with city/county resolution or letter of support)
All applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss all potential marker projects with GHS staff. The application process can be lengthy and experience has shown that the more contact the applicant has with GHS, and the more they are able to work together early in the process to refine the application, the better chance the application has for success.
To start the application process please visit our online Georgia Historical Marker Program Marker Application. Please note the application is only available from January 1 – July 1 of each year.
The deadline to submit a draft of the research paper and documentation worksheet for review is May 1, with basic feedback provided by June 1. Please note the submission of a draft does not guarantee approval.
Research Paper Examples
The provided research papers are examples of well-rounded narratives from previously approved marker applications. We suggest applicants review and include a number of both primary and secondary sources in their research, as using a variety of sources often results in a stronger understanding of the application subject by both the applicant and the Committee. Applicants are encouraged to email a copy of their research paper to GHS staff for basic feedback prior to May 1.
- Historical Markers with Events as Subjects
- Historical Markers with People as Subjects
- Historical Markers with Places as Subjects
- Historical Markers with Churches or Schools as Subjects
Since 1998, the program has been supported by the State of Georgia with additional funds provided by marker sponsors through cost-share arrangements. Under this system, GHS has been able to ensure that this important statewide program continues.
The top-ranking applications will be eligible for program support to offset the cost of the historical marker project. Sponsors of these marker projects will be responsible for $2,500 toward the cost of the new historical marker. Payment for an approved marker application will be due no later than September 15 of each year.
Regardless of the applicant’s ability to fully fund the marker, full application materials are due by July 1st each year. All marker applications will be reviewed by the Committee at their annual meeting in late summer. During the meeting, all applications are either approved or rejected. Some rejected applications are encouraged to revise and resubmit in a subsequent cycle with specific changes in focus or with more substantial research. Rejected applications are eligible to reapply up to two more times in later cycles. Sponsors of rejected applications are strongly encouraged to work closely with GHS staff on all revised submissions.
Following the committee meeting there is often considerable work to do in finalizing the marker project. Committee members may request additional information or have questions about certain aspects of the application. Sponsors work with GHS staff to complete the marker process, to finalize marker text, and to schedule the marker dedication ceremony.
All applicants should be mindful of the typical timeline associated with the marker application process. If an application is approved by the Committee at the annual review meeting, it can take between six and twelve months for the marker to be actually installed and dedicated. Please note that the historical marker foundry’s production time is at least eight weeks. While each situation is unique and GHS staff makes every effort to work with individual marker sponsors to meet mutual deadlines, applicants should take this timeline into consideration while deciding when to apply for a Georgia Historical Marker.
Subjects of Historical Markers
The Georgia Historical Society encourages applications on subjects of historically significant people, places, and events in Georgia history. Historic structures are often more adequately recognized by state or national historic preservation organizations, such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and are not intended to be marked through the Georgia Historical Marker Program. For more information on the National Trust and the National Register of Historic Places, please contact the state Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Community Affairs at 404.679.4840.
Subjects of only local significance, and without extended importance in the larger context of state, regional, or national history are not intended to be marked through the Georgia Historical Marker Program. Applications for churches, cemeteries, and schools must clearly demonstrate their significance beyond the local level to be considered for a marker.
Unless there is sufficient documentary evidence to establish authenticity without question, no “firsts” will be marked.
Historical markers are not monuments. Overly adulatory language that departs in any way from an objective and dispassionate recounting of the historically documented facts will not be approved. Further, marker texts with lists of names (such as in memoriam tributes) are discouraged.
Markers with people as the subject are typically considered only when the subject has been deceased for at least twenty-five years. Markers recognizing events are considered only when the event in question took place at least twenty-five years prior to the date of the application. Buildings, sites, or other structures should be at least fifty years old to be considered for a historical marker.
Historical marker text allows readers to better understand larger historical topics within the context of a local setting. Therefore, as the Georgia Historical Marker Review Committee and GHS staff construct marker language for approved applications, they must take into consideration not only the local impact of the marker topic but how that story fits into both the larger historical narrative and also the statewide marker program.
Sponsoring organizations are asked to assist with the editing process to ensure that the final text is acceptable to all parties. Please be aware that this process can involve questions related to the marker subject that can sometimes be uncomfortable. Often conversations related to racial segregation and violence, confronting local lore and tradition, or discrimination based on gender, religion, race, etc., can be difficult. However, these conversations are necessary and help ensure that the final marker text accurately reflects a complete and multi-faceted story that considers a variety of perspectives on the marker topic.
Please note that the Georgia Historical Society and the Georgia Historical Marker Review Committee reserve the right to determine the final interpretive language. However, GHS staff is always available to discuss concerns, answer questions, and are dedicated to ensuring that Georgia’s historical markers remain vital and enduring historical resources.
Historical Marker Sponsors
Markers must be sponsored by at least one entity with a governing body (board of directors, trustees, etc.). Examples of such organizations include historical organizations, churches, schools, businesses, government entities, etc. Markers may not be sponsored by individuals. The name of the sponsors, following that of the Georgia Historical Society, will appear at the bottom of each marker. No more than three sponsor names may appear on the marker. Names of individuals cannot appear as sponsors.
The sponsor(s) of each historical marker must be prepared to contribute to the overall cost of each marker following approval by the Review Committee, with the Society bearing the remainder of the cost, as well as overhead expenses including staffing, travel, etc. Installation costs are the responsibility of the applicant and/or the sponsoring organization(s).
Payment in full of the sponsor’s share of the marker is required prior to the order being placed with the marker foundry (but after the application is approved by the Committee). This payment may be provided by an individual, but the appropriate marker project must be clearly noted. Further, while individuals may pay for the marker, only organizations may be listed as sponsors on the marker itself.
If repair or replacement of the marker becomes necessary, the Society will require a second cost-share from the sponsor(s) to cover repair and/or replacement costs. That cost-share will be based on the cost of the repair and/or replacement marker at the time the replacement is necessary. Because prices fluctuate over time, please inquire for the current cost-share figure.
Routine maintenance of a marker is the responsibility of the sponsor(s) listed on the application. Ownership of the marker remains with the Georgia Historical Society. The sponsor(s) must agree in writing (using the Sponsor Agreement form) to monitor and maintain the marker by cleaning and/or retouching paint as necessary. The foundry will supply touch-up paint to the sponsor(s) upon request. In the event that repair or replacement of the marker is needed, the sponsor(s) should notify the Georgia Historical Society.
Marker Liability Coverage
Due to the number of historical markers under the Georgia Historical Marker Program’s care, GHS does not offer liability coverage for the historical markers. If the sponsoring organization feels that liability coverage is required, coverage may be purchased independently of GHS.
For questions regarding new historical markers and the application process, please contact the Historical Marker and Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 912.651.2125 ext. 122.