It is fitting that the National Park Service, as the nation's leading historical agency, study its own history, and to that end the NPS North Atlantic Regional Office in 1990 commissioned this administrative history of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Salem's administrative history is a particularly interesting one for several reasons. First, as one of the oldest historic properties within the parks system, it encompasses most of the development and changes in historic site administration within the National Park Service's history. Second, Salem more than most parks in the system, has been dependent on the cooperative efforts of other entities, public and private, for its development and operation. Third, as one of the earliest urban sites in the system, it encountered the need to interact with neighbors before this was common in the Park Service. Even as these characteristics have made the administrative history of Salem Maritime interesting, they have also made it complex to pursue. Changes in administrative organization in the Park Service over the years have scattered NPS records pertaining to Salem, and some have disappeared. Among those organizations which have cooperated over the years in the development of the site, record keeping has varied greatly, from the extensive archives of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities to the uninformative records of the Salem Maritime Historical Association. And for the site's relationship to its surrounding community, virtually the only record is in newspaper files. This has made it challenging to assemble a balanced view of many important aspects of the site's history. Our approach in documenting Salem Maritime's history, therefore, has been to work outward from the office NPS records, supplementing them where necessary with the records of cooperating organizations, municipal and state records, newspaper accounts, and interviews with people within and without the Park Service whose memories and view we thought would add useful perspectives. Along the way, we have received invaluable help from many people, without whose assistance, the task would have been much harder and the results less rewarding.