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How to Apply for a Michigan Historical Marker

The Michigan Historical Commission is the primary contact for Michigan Historical Markers. However, at various points in the process, we may ask you to work with our partners: Michigan History Foundation, Eastern Michigan University Historic Preservation Program and the State Historic Preservation Office.

Three styles of markers are available. Please consult the price list [PDF] for descriptions of the marker styles and current marker prices.

  1. The process begins with an application. Read the application descriptions carefully to determine which one you should use.

    Your application will need to include:

    • All facts and statements must be documented with primary sources that were written at the time of the event. These include tax records, deeds, newspaper articles and meeting minutes that substantiate the historical information in the application. In addition, the applicant can provide photocopies of secondary sources such as published county and community histories. You must include copies of these sources with your application. The photocopies must include citations: the title, author, date of publication, publisher and page numbers. Photocopies of all documentation must be submitted with the application.
    • photographs of the interior and exterior of the structure (if the marker is about a structure). Photographic Guidelines can be found in the Michigan Historical Markers Guidelines.
    • a map showing the location of the site and indicating main crossroads near the site.
    • a list of facts you feel are important to include in the marker text.
  2. In addition to the application materials, you will need to submit a $250 application fee. If the application is not approved for a marker, the fee will be promptly refunded; otherwise, the fee is nonrefundable. Make the check payable to "Michigan History Foundation." Please note: The application will be returned if it is not accompanied by the fee.
  3. If the site has not already been listed on the State Register of Historic Sites, the State Historic Preservation Office staff will evaluate the application in terms of the established criteria.
  4. Once your application is accepted, our marker coordinator will work with you as he/she prepares the draft text for the marker. After you accept the draft text, it will be presented to the Michigan Historical Commission. The commission determines the final wording of the marker.
  5. If your site is not already on the State Register of Historic Sites, upon commission approval of the marker text, a site number will be assigned and your site will be listed. You'll receive a letter from the commission when this happens.
  6. At this point, we will ask you to send a check for the cost of the marker to the Michigan History Foundation, which will order your marker for you. The foundation will also confirm marker delivery information with you at that time. You should allow at least six weeks for the manufacture and delivery of your marker.
  7. Now you can also start planning your marker dedication ceremony and notify the Michigan Historical Commission of the date. Whenever possible, a member of the commission will attend your ceremony to present the marker. You will be responsible for installing your marker. You may want to inform state and local government officials, local historical societies and local media that your marker is being installed and dedicated.

    PLEASE NOTE: The application and approval process typically takes one year to complete. Guarantees for specific dedication dates cannot be made at the time of application.
Two other things you should know:
  1. Identification plaques are available only for sites listed in the State Register of Historic Sites prior to October 1, 1998.
  2. Commemorative markers for historic districts will only be approved for districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Updated 07/15/2014