Daniel J. Vivian
Survey Coordinator, South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office
Columbia, South Carolina
“What I find most satisfying about my work at the SHPO is that it gives interested citizens the tools they need to save tangible parts of their history: neighborhoods, communities, and downtowns. In the truest sense of public history, it's about working with people who have a general idea of what they want to do—nominate a house to the National Register, for example—but don't know exactly how to do it. They're grateful for our help, and it's exciting to be involved at the moment when they realize that they don't just own an old house, but a building with some sort of notable architectural features, or perhaps one that was owned by someone who played an important role in their community several generations ago."
Dan Vivian came to the field of historic preservation from a combination of a love of history and of the outdoors. A history major at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with a minor in geography, he spent the fall before his graduation working as a Student Conservation Association Resource Assistant in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, helping to develop and present historical and naturalist interpretive programs. After working in a bicycle shop in western North Carolina, an area rich in vernacular southern architecture, he enrolled in the Public History Program at the University of South Carolina. While a graduate student, he conducted research on a number of historic railroad sites and served as a research assistant for a project to document the history and archaeology of the 1863 South Carolina State House while it was being renovated. When he completed his M.A. degree in 1997, he accepted a position as research associate for the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT), a center operated by the National Park Service to develop new technologies for preserving the built environment and to train preservationists in their use. Many of his responsibilities at the NCPTT centered on its educational mission: organizing conferences and symposia, writing articles on the work of the center, and administering research projects supported by the center's grants program.
In 1999 Vivian returned to Columbia, South Carolina, to manage the statewide Architectural and Historic Resources Survey Program of the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. He is responsible for working with local government officials and consultants in administering federally funded survey and planning grants that enable the state to identify and preserve its architectural and historical cultural resources. It is a job that requires the skills of doing research and evaluating the research of others and the skills of working with and informing the public to preserve local resources that have state, regional, and national significance.