National Park Service


Date of this Version



National Center for Cultural Resources National Park Service, Washington, DC (2004)


The National Archeological Database (NADB) was created in 1984. The primary purpose of NADB is to efficiently share archeological information about publicly sponsored investigations thereby helping to eliminate unnecessary redundancy among public agency efforts. Presently, the Archeology and Ethnography Program (AEP) of the National Park Service manages three NADB modules, one of which is the National Archeological Database, Reports module (NADB-R).

NADB-R is a bibliographic inventory of reports about archeological investigations and planning across the United States. AEP works with the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) to collect the bibliographic data recorded for each state for national access and use. The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST) at the University of Arkansas hosts the searchable, online NADB-R database that currently holds approximately 240,000 bibliographic records. The majority of these records document the archeological “gray literature,” typically the unpublished and narrowly distributed reports that are hard to access by researchers, CRM contractors, and government agencies. This literature, however, provides a large share of the data on archeological sites and projects nationwide. Recently the Society for American Archaeology cited NADB and particularly NADB-Reports in its initiative for renewing national archeology. NADB-R is considered an important tool for cultural resource management efforts and an important step in reporting on archeological work.

There are gaps in the online NADB-R database because it has not been updated since 1998. The NADB-R data entry application, which was provided to the SHPOs for standardized data entry in the late 1980s, is still in the DOS operating system and has not been upgraded as computer software has advanced. Due to technological advances, reorganizations of federal programs, and limited federal and state staff, the current operational and maintenance procedures of NADB-R require reconsideration. Solutions are needed to maximize service to the historic preservation community as a whole, while recognizing current and future staffing and funding levels.