The demands of increasing human population in the coastal zone create competition with coastal habitat preservation and with recreational and commercial uses of the coast and nearshore waters. As climate changes over the coming century, these problems facing coastal communities will likely worsen. Good management and policy decision-making require baseline information on the rates, trends, and scientific understanding of the processes of coastal change on a regional to national scale. To address this need, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is engaged in a research project of national scope to measure, report, and interpret historical shoreline change along open-ocean coasts of the United States. One of the primary goals of this project is to understand shoreline change hazards using methods that are comparable from one area of the country to another and that will allow for future, repeatable analyses of shoreline movement, coastal erosion, and land loss.