A newsletter for the Sussex Family History Group

Olympia, here we come!

Following the success of ‘Who Do You Think You Are? Live’ last year (with around 10,000 visitors) it moves to Olympia’s larger Grand Hall for the 2008 show being held from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 May.

The event incorporates the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show and features more family history societies and organisations than ever before. Included this year are new sections on military history and on archaeology.

As last year you can buy two advance tickets for the price of one: £20. Simply visit the WDYTYA website and quote the code FFHS241 when prompted. (Offer closes 18 April. £1.95 transaction fee applies.)

Who Do You Think You Are? Live! logo

From the south there are some trains direct from Brighton to Kensington Olympia, otherwise one can change at Clapham Junction. The West Meads Meeting Centre are running a coach to Olympia on the Saturday.

As you will know, having sat out the 2007 show the Sussex Family History Group will be represented this year. We will be there for all three days – as part of a Sussex ‘enclave’ together with the Hastings & Rother FHS and the West Sussex Record Office.

Getting people, equipment, and boxes of publications in place on the right days will be quite a logistical challenge; no doubt there’ll be some frantic last-minute e-mails and phone calls before the big day! However we expect to have sufficient helpers to operate a rota system so that everyone gets a chance to tour the rest of the exhibits, but we still have room on the reserve list for one or two more volunteers.

For SFHG the event combines sales of books and CDs, the giving of general advice to those with Sussex ancestry, and sharing information from some of our databases. And it will give us useful publicity – we’ve had a load of extra SFHs printed for distribution to potential members.

If you’re attending ‘Who Do You Think You Are? Live’ do please introduce yourself to the SFHG team.

Could you join the team?

As we approach the Group’s AGM, we will be saying a formal farewell to two of our stalwarts.

Wyn Burgess stepped down from being Membership Secretary in 2006 but continued to give valuable service as a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee. However she retires from this responsibility at the AGM. We shall miss her cheerful face, but no doubt her beloved Liverpool will see more of her at their league and cup games!

The other departure will be that of Clem Frank, who for some years has proved a valiant organiser of our Annual Conferences and AGMs. Those of you who have attended recently will know what a good job he has done. Our collective thanks go to them both.

But – and there is always a but, isn’t there – we now have a need for someone to take over the conference organisation and we have two other vacancies on the Executive Committee. It’s too late to be elected at the AGM but we can, and will, co-opt people on to the Committee. The size and scope of the Group is such that, to make it run efficiently and to meet the needs of members, we need a variety of skills, both organisational and professional. Above all you would be joining a happy team and would be helping others to gain as much enjoyment from family history as you have done. • Mick Richardson

The Chairman

Since our Chairman, Mick Richardson, penned the above piece a week or so ago, he has now advised us of sad news. Following health concerns, he has been instructed by his doctor to drastically reduce his workload. So Mick is stepping down from the chairmanship forthwith. Naturally this comes as a huge blow, but Mick’s health must come first and all members will surely wish him well. (Though please do not contact him at this time.)

For the time being, the various tasks that Mick had in hand will be covered by other committee members. But, in addition to the committee vacancies referred to above, we have to add that of the most important role of Chairman. Could you help us in our hour of need? Or can you recommend someone (not necessarily a current member) who could?

If you’re able to help in any way, please contact the Secretary, Val Orr. @

Library goes digital

As trailed in January’s SussexLink, the SFHG Library is entering the digital age.

 The broadband internet access has now been installed in the library and is available for visitors to access the many genealogical websites such as A2A, FreeBMD, etc.

 Shortly, we will be taking out a subscription with UK family history website – giving access to BMD indexes, censuses, ships passenger lists, military records, and much more.

 A new project is the digitising of some of our most unique material – such as family histories and pedigrees – thus creating a ‘back-up’ copy of this valuable resource which, as a result, will in time become more accessible. John Commins is overseeing this project.

Urgently needed are helpers for the library, particularly as Librarian and as Library Secretary. There will be members who can undertake these roles, they just need to step forward to increase their own enjoyment by helping others. These are exciting opportunities in exciting times.

What’s in your attic?

Jack Latimer, the co-ordinator of the Letter in the Attic project writes: “I am wondering whether SussexLink would be able to help us spread the word about the Letter in the Attic project?

In brief, this community heritage project involves collecting letters and diaries that are related in some way to Brighton & Hove. The project is a collaboration between QueenSpark Books, ESRO, the local history website, and the Mass Observation Archive (a national archive specialising in material about everyday life in Britain).

The material collected so far ranges from the letters of a windmill owner in the 1830s (William VINE, after whom Vine Street is named) to a diary written in 2001 by a new arrival in Brighton. By the end of the project, we’ll have created a book, an education pack, and a professionally catalogued archive of the material. We’re collecting the material throughout 2008 by an appeal to the public – and we thought members of the Sussex Family History Group might well be interested in the project.

There’s also an event on 14 June at Brighton Library when professional archivists will be offering guidance and help with looking after personal papers in the home.”

Find out more at the website.