The Heritage Health Index was conducted in 2004 and was the first ever comprehensive survey to assess the condition of U.S. collections held in archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and scientific research organizations, large and small, from internationally renowned art museums and research libraries to local historical societies and specialized archives. The study documented the number of artifacts held in public trust—4.8 billion—and concluded that immediate action was needed to preserve them. The results of the survey were published in A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections and received widespread press. Professional associations and collecting institutions across the country consistently use the survey data to make their case for support of collections care.

Heritage Preservation in cooperation with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) conducted a followup survey again in 2014, and will release a report in 2015. The Heritage Health Index II updated the data and measured the extent and effectiveness of preservation activities and initiatives over the past 10 years. The Heritage Health Index II report will recommend actions to improve the care of collections to ensure they will be available for public access now and in the future.

The Heritage Health Index II will be based on the survey instrument used in 2004, in order to collect similar information and track trends. However, questions regarding digital collections and digital preservation may be revised or expanded. To assist with this, digital experts will be convened and consulted. The survey methodology and sampling will also be reviewed and planned in consultation with a survey research firm and mathematical statistician.