This newsletter and previous issues are available on the website: 


The e-newsletter of the Sussex Family History Group

The Keep is coming!

Following the submission of the planning application for The Keep in October we are delighted to be able to tell you that the application went before Brighton & Hove City Council's Planning Committee on 15 December and has been given the green light. The decision was unanimous with no objections and was supported by very positive feedback from our consultations and a letter of support from the Sussex Family History Group.

New archive centre for East Sussex and Brighton & Hove gets the green light

We are now working hard to conclude our detailed design work and room layouts and to finalise costs for the various packages of work including the furniture and equipment, fixtures and fittings, ICT requirements and shelving for the Repository Block. We have been holding a series of design workshops with our architect and partners, including SFHG, to discuss and agree on all of these elements. Snow stopped play on two occasions in December so our final workshop is now due to be held shortly.

We have also begun work on the concrete frieze of archival images that will be displayed along the top of the external walls of the Repository Block. We are selecting the images from amongst the many thousands of documents that will be housed in The Keep. The final designs will need to be agreed by partners and approved by the planning officers before building work starts this summer. The Keep will take 62 weeks to build and, following the fit-out and moving in period, we aim to open to the public in early 2013.

Further information about The Keep can be found on the website ( • Wendy Walker, Senior Archivist and Programme Manager, ESRO.

An unsolicited testimonial

I just had to write to say how much we enjoyed our first visit to the SFHG Library at Lewes. The volunteer made us most welcome and explained where to find the things we needed to look at and gave us a great deal of help.

It is a wonderful resource, there is so much information contained in those boxes of papers. We will certainly be going back to do more research. A big thank you to the volunteers that make it posible. • Pat Fairhall.

 The SFHG Library is normally open on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month from 10am to 5.30pm. East Sussex Record Office is also open on these Saturdays.

Conference and AGM

The SFHG Annual Conference will be held at Clair Hall in Haywards Heath on Saturday 26 March. Members, and non-members, are invited to attend what has traditionally been an excellent occasion.

Our three guest speakers are: Ian Gledhill "Transport of the masses", John Titford "Marry 'em off, kill 'em off: researching a London family 1640-1840", and Jackie Marsh-Hobbs "Palmeira Mansions: the history of the house and family - the Nouveau Riche".

Numbers are strictly limited so you are advised to book early. Details and booking form were included with December's Sussex Family Historian and are available on the website.

The Annual General Meeting follows at 4pm. This is an opportunity to have your say in the running of the Sussex Family History Group.

SFHG Data Archive

The Data Archive is an ongoing project through which we aim to make available much of our transcribed data exclusively for members to access free.

Data is gradually being uploaded to the SFHG Data Archive. There are now nearly 2.3 million records - in particular all the baptisms from the Baptismal Index. Also available are names from the Sussex People Index, burials and census data.

To view this data use the username and password as used for the Members Only pages on the SFHG website. There is guidance on searching or browsing the data.

Friends of the Brighton History Centre

It is brilliant news that The Keep is now a reality. But it may be a mixed blessing for family historians seeking to position their Brighton ancestors in a broader historical context. For, despite fierce opposition from users, a freelance consultant has recommended that most of the material held by the Brighton History Centre should be transferred to The Keep when it opens in around two years time. The current accommodation - the former reference library in the Museum and Art Gallery building - will be turned over to museum use and only basic family and local history facilities will be retained in the city centre, probably at the Jubilee Library.

The BHC is an exceptional facility with exceptional staff. Relocation may make economic sense but it will also mean massive inconvenience to most users.

Further consultation with BHC users has been promised. However, so was a Friends group promised this time last year; it has not as yet materialised! So I have set up the Friends of the Brighton History Centre, an online forum for those who value the BHC and who seek to promote its continued presence in the heart of the city. It is, at the very least, essential to ensure that the promised public consultation takes place and that it is both transparent and meaningful. At best - and this is the one-step-further core aspiration - a compromise solution acceptable to all parties should be put on the table for consideration.

So do please take part in the debate by visiting and clicking on 'Join this group'. If you have any technical problems, please e-mail me at

Once it's gone, it's gone! • Ninka Willcock.

FamilySearch update

FamilySearch has announced several changes for its family history website, The changes have been in testing for some time, and will be introduced in phases.

The new site offers millions more scanned, historical documents and indexes that are published more frequently; an improved search experience that looks through more content and gives more accurate results; an online genealogical community where patrons can give and receive help.

FamilySearch has published a document called 'Adjusting to the new version' and a video tutorial that summarizes the changes to the new site. These new guides can be found under the 'Changes at' link.