A newsletter for the Sussex Family History Group

SFHG seeks your expertise

Many of you must have varied skills and expertise that may well be of value to the Sussex Family History Group.

Currently we are seeking a volunteer to assist the Treasurer. Do you have bookkeeping skills to offer?

Could you assist with the organising of our annual conference? In particular a volunteer is needed for the role of Conference Co-ordinator.

Or perhaps you’d like to serve on the executive committee as our numbers are a little depleted at present.

Whilst for the above-mentioned roles one ideally needs to reside in Sussex there are many other tasks – transcribing and indexing, for instance – that could be undertaken from anywhere in the world.

Contact the Chairman, or one of the committee members, if you’re interested in the above. Or our Volunteers Co-ordinator would be delighted for you to complete the volunteers questionnaire on the SFHG website.

Can you transcribe the 1851 census?

Do you get annoyed with errors in the online censuses? Most of these, other than the 1881, have been transcribed overseas and despite some quality checking there are inevitable differences. Many of us have found that alternative transcriptions of the census have a value in their own right such as one index has obvious errors where another index gets it right. You now have a chance to help in transcribing the 1851 census and assist the family history society that covers an area of interest to you.

Many family history societies have previously indexed the 1851 census in many different formats ranging from surname-only indexes to full transcripts and these have been published in booklets, on fiche and CD-ROM with several being available also on the Federation’s FamilyHistoryOnline web service. Some of these indexes were produced in the days before the widespread use of personal computers and are only available in typescript format.

In this new project many societies that are members of the Federation of Family History Societies together with will be working with you to produce a full index to the 1851 census that will allow searching by virtually all fields, including occupation, age and sex. This index will be connected to images of the pages from the census enumerators’ books. Societies will receive a small payment each time a researcher views the results of a search that’s been indexed by a volunteer working for that society. This will be an important source of revenue for societies as sales of other versions of the census have seriously declined.

You can work at home using your own computer and broadband connection whenever you have a few spare minutes. Views of the ‘transcription tool’ showing the image of the census page, and the spreadsheet-like grid where you enter the information plus more details about the program can be found at

If you’re interested in taking part please e-mail me at with your contact details and the names of any counties where you have a particular knowledge or interest. Not all societies will be taking part, so not all areas will be covered. Those areas ‘unclaimed’ will have to be completed overseas. are aiming to produce most of the 1851 census online by the end of the year, so please don’t delay and help today!

People have said that your education as a family historian cannot be complete unless you’ve done some transcribing as only then will you appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of original records. So now’s the time to educate yourself and give that special help to so many others with their searches. • Gillian Stevens (FHOL Administration & Society Liaison)

Did you have an Artist in your family?

2010 will be the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Artist’s Rifles. This Regiment is well known in some military circles but many members of the public may never have heard of it. It has been of great importance because of the Regiments that officers commissioned into the Artist’s Rifles subsequently served in as well as the service of officers and men within the Regiment’s own battalions.

I suspect a proportion of your society’s members must have had members of their family in the Artists or who served alongside men commissioned from the Artists. Can anyone help?

We would like details of any Artists in your family and any anecdotes being passed down or titles of stories written by them. There must be many genealogists whose grandfather’s or great-grandfather’s Regiment may be shown as one of those listed but some of you may have carried your research to a point where you know what unit he was commissioned into.

A suitable prize will be given to the person who sends in the most interesting entry and a prize will also be given to their society. This offer is open until 31 August 2009 in order for something to be prepared for the internet hopefully for 2010. As Artists served in almost every Unit of the British Army and in almost every campaign between 1914 and 1919 there hopefully will be a mass of information to come forward.

Some further background to the regiment is on and those who consult it will see the areas at present not working which I hope later we can complete, to give a roll of honour with additional information on as many men as possible. • Mike Powell