Family history buffs can now access the Sussex electoral registers for free at West Sussex Record Office, following their launch on the Ancestry website.
The registers include more than 8.2million West Sussex records from 1832-1963 and follow on from the launch of the Sussex parish registers which went live in May of this year.
Between 20 May 2022 and the end of September 2022, the parish registers have been viewed over 813,000 times.
Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Support, Fire & Rescue, recently visited the Record Office at 3 Orchard Street, Chichester to discover the power of Ancestry and how it can help people learn about their ancestors.
After the visit, Duncan said: “Ancestry is the UK’s largest family history site and being shown how to use the system was truly insightful, as it was something I had heard of but never used before. For someone like me it is the perfect tool to help to piece together a family tree, but it can also be used to search births, marriages, deaths and military records and a vast number of other collections. Overall, it was really interesting to see all the ways it could be used to shed a light on all sorts of history, both close to home and across the world.
“The fantastic thing about using Ancestry at the Record Office is that you don’t have to sign up with your own account and pay for a subscription, it is absolutely free to use, and there is support on hand if you’re struggling to find things. For those people who can’t get into Chichester and experience the great space that is West Sussex Record Office, all 36 of our West Sussex Libraries also have Ancestry available for residents to use for free, which means more budding family and local historians can delve into their pasts and find out about their families.”
To use any of the facilities at West Sussex Record Office, including access to the Ancestry website, you will need a free Archives Card. You can start the registration process on the Archives Card website.
To complete your registration, you will need to visit West Sussex Record Office within three months of submitting your form with two forms of identity. A member of staff will check these are valid and, if so, issue your card.
Wendy Walker, County Archivist at West Sussex Record Office, said: “Working with Ancestry to make our records available online means that we can open up access to some of the wealth of historical resources that we hold and share them with people wherever they live and whenever they want to use them. Adding the electoral registers to the parish registers means that people can find out more about the lives of their ancestors and where they lived as well as discovering more about the past residents of their house, town or village. It will also make more people aware of the rich history of West Sussex and its archives, encouraging visitors to find out more about the records that we hold and the stories that they tell us.”
For those who would rather use Ancestry for free at one of our libraries, library members may use the computers for free for a maximum of two hours per day. If you are not a member, you can join at no cost, or chose to pay a small fee as a visitor.
Alongside free Ancestry access at West Sussex Record Office, from January 2023 coffee time workshops will be back on the first Wednesday of each month.
The special mid-morning sessions, all starting at 10am, will give people the opportunity to learn from the experts on a number of different subjects. Tickets cost £7.50 per event (non-refundable).
The first three workshops of the year are listed below and can be booked in advance by calling 01243 753602:
- How to start your family tree – Wednesday 11 January 2023
- Researching the history of your house – Wednesday 1 February 2023
- Getting started with Ancestry.co.uk – Wednesday 1 March 2023
To find out more about West Sussex Record Office, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/recordoffice