Preserving Historic Graffiti

Historic graffiti often says simply, “I was here.” The numerous monikers of A-No. 1, Tex KT, and several other hoboes and tramps say, “I was everywhere.” Sometimes, historic graffiti whispers - or shouts - a more personal message that opens a window into the past.  A unique name and city can be traced to an individual, and sometimes a story.  These stories give historic graffiti its value, and are the reason we, and many others, feel that it is important to respect and preserve it.

A defaced marking left by Tex King of Tramps in 1959. (scroll over to view)

Simply put - you were not a part of a historic structure's history, so don't interject yourself into it. The story is not yours to be a part of, beyond appreciating, documenting, and preserving.
Here are some specifics on how to help preserve historic marks.

• Don’t mark on historic surfaces. Graffiti attracts graffiti, and while you may not destroy a historic mark, the next person might.

 

• Historic graffiti is often modest or tucked away.  Pencil, faintly scratched, or very faded marks do not attract attention. Covering a wall with new graffiti may result in a paint over that obliterates everything, old and new.

 

• Don’t add messages of appreciation for historic graffiti, or criticism of vandalism. This degrades the visual character of a historic area, just like new graffiti.

 

• Don’t steal objects marked with historic graffiti. Taking an object out of context destroys its value and meaning.

 

• Survey and record or coordinate with building owners to salvage historic graffiti before structures are renovated or demolished.

 

• Maintain buildings and structures to protect historic graffiti from weathering.

2015

2019

Napavine, Washington, in 2015 and 2019 after this carved Tex KT moniker was stolen, damaging a historic structure. If you have any information about this crime, please contact The Historic Graffiti Society; we are working to restore the board to the original owner, or preserve it in a local museum.

© 2018 by HIGS