The Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS) advances the understanding and sustainable conservation of heritage places commemorating American civil rights histories and Black heritage.

Our focus is on the long Black freedom struggle in the United States, from the founding of the country to the present, though we recognize that important civil rights histories and legacies draw on many other experiences in the US and abroad.

Moreover, CPCRS is an academic partner working with organizations engaged in varied aspects of remembering, studying and stewarding the legacy of civil rights histories in the United States. We undertake research, teaching and fieldwork to explore issues and solutions and raise awareness of civil rights histories. Taking a critical perspective to historical scholarship, preservation practice and pedagogy is essential to our work. 

How We Work

Everyday Spaces and Iconic Sites

CPCRS seeks to preserve the heritage of the United States civil rights in all its forms. This includes iconic sites already recognized as heritage places, vernacular buildings, cultural landscapes as well as the everyday spaces.

Building on Traditions 

CPCRS strives to honor and support our organizational partners’ traditions of education, storytelling as well as community stewardship to remeber the profound and significant civil rights stories — tragic and triumphant — across the country.

Always in Partnership

CPCRS collaborates with preservation advocates, government agencies, stewardship organizations as well as other educational organizations engaged in remembering, studying and stewarding the legacy of the United States civil rights history.

Student Internships & Fellowships

CPCRS currently offers graduate research assistant positions during the academic year and summer to current Penn students. In these roles, students support various projects, from events to research, design, and communications. Positions are posted via the Historic Preservation Department at the beginning of the academic year and summer for current Penn graduate students to apply to. 

We also offer select fellowships to emerging and early career professionals to expand their current research via invitation. 

Our Partners

We partner with and support organizations that make and manage heritage sites marking profound stories of the American experience. 

Cover Image: Entrance to Federation of Southern Cooperative Rural Training and Research Center, established in 1967 to create community-based economic development opportunities throughout the rural South for black farmers and rural communities. Sumter County, Alabama. Photo by Elizabeth Donison.