I have to admit I was in two minds about whether to make my way down to Lewes, East Sussex on Sunday for the Family History Open Day at the East Sussex Record Office. Being a Sunday public transport was an issue and the weather wasn’t particularly brilliant either, but in the end I was glad I went.
I was a little disappointed to find it so busy, I know that is good for them, but it did make things a little awkward in the cramped surroundings of the record office and meant that I didn’t get chance to take one of the behind the scenes tour, which were booked up until well into the afternoon.
The search room itself was a buzz of activity compared to its usual quiet atmosphere. There were two local family history society stalls here, representatives of the local library service, a display on the new record office “The Keep” and a selection of documents on display.
Most visitors however seemed to be taking the opportunity to explore the shelves around the outside of the search room, where various books, catalogues and transcriptions are held. Not wishing to be left out I took the opportunity to take a look at some Brighton Directories to see if I could find some mention of Frank TROWER’s brother, but to no avail.
For me though the most fascinating and instructive experience of my visit was watching the conservator at work, demonstrating how to clean a map and discussing other aspects of document preservation and conservation, and how to use a nutmeg grater when cleaning a map!
It was a really good day, with the cramped environment of the record office being the only drawback on the whole event. This just highlights the need for a new record office and fortunately work has recently begun on the new building, although it will be a couple of years before it opens for business.
East Sussex Record Office will be hosting a Family History Open Day on Sunday 30th October 2011 between 10am and 4pm.
According to their website there will be a range of activites available throughtout the day, with some specially designed for children and families. Download the pdf from their website for more details.
I have spent many hours in the ESRO (not as many as I would like), but this will be a great opportunity to have a good look around and see what goes on behind the scenes, as well as being able to “ask the experts” about some of my more problematic relatives.
Hopefully the weather will stay fine and I can not only explore inside the record office but perhaps I will have the chance to explore more of the town of Lewes at the same time, or perhaps even escape to the surrounding hills for a little stroll.
I had another day off today and the weather was miserable again, so I headed for the East Sussex Record Office in Lewes, East Sussex to knock some more items off my to-do list.
The plan was much the same as yesterday at the West Sussex Record Office, which essentially meant there was no plan, just collect as much data as possible, and if it cleared stuff from my to-do list then even better. Like yesterday there weren’t really any major discoveries, but I was pleased to find a few entries that have been (or should have been) on my to-do list for a long time.
These included baptism records for my grandmother and great-grandmother. I had never got around to looking for either record before, I had a pretty good idea where the first record would be and had already found an index entry for the second and just need to double-check it.
The most pleasing find however was the baptism record for William Joseph Henry BATEMAN. I have written much about William (who joined the Royal Navy and ended up making his home in Australia) but had never sat down before and searched for his baptism record, even though I had a pretty good idea where I should be looking.
The most surprising find was the baptism record for George TROWER in Brighton. Even though he is not a particularly close relation (first cousin three times removed) I had searched for his baptism for several years. His parents were from Henfield, Sussex but spent a few years in Brighton before returning to the family farm in Henfield. It was really pleasing to find his baptism today because I had not been deliberately looking for it.
It shouldn’t take me long to sort through this information (and that collected yesterday) and enter it in the right spreadsheet and database, but these two days have highlighted the fact that I need to get my to-do list a little better organised. Over the last two days I have largely been working with my netbook (for the to-do list and my family tree) and a lined A4 refill pad, this worked pretty well but my to-do list is get too large and in some cases it doesn’t have enough information, perhaps it is time to upgrade from my simple text file.
Plans for The Keep moved another step forward with the submission of a planning application to Brighton & Hove City Council in October 2010.
The Keep is destined to be the new home for the collections of the East Sussex Record Office and the Brighton History Centre among others, and if all goes according to plan (and funding is forthcoming) it should be opened to the public in 2013.
The hope is that a decision will be reached by the 14th January 2011 and all the documentation about the application can be found on the Brighton & Hove City Council website in their planning register (application number BH2010/03259).
The application itself is described as being for the “Construction of an archive centre comprising lecture and educational facilities, reading room, conservation laboratories, archivist study areas, offices, cleaning and repair facilities for archives, repository block and refreshment area. Associated energy centre, car, coach and cycle parking, waste and recycling storage, landscaping including public open space and access.”
Delving into the documentation provides some interesting reading. The first document on the list is the application form and this includes opening hours which it gives as 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, with two evenings during the week and one Sunday a month. I fully expect these to change by the time it opens, but being able to visit on a Sunday would be a great advantage for me.
There is still much consultation and discussion to be done, but at least the plans have moved another step closer to completion.
I’ve changed the title of this regular weekly post to reflect the fact that it is largely about what I have been doing (or failing to do) in my own personal genealogy.
Last week was devoted almost entirely to organising the files and folders on my hard drive. I had hoped to get all my folders sorted out by the end of May, but I am some way short of that, although not too far off. I have another eight folders to sort through, out of a total of 75 surnames.
I have transcribed the will of Thomas PIERCEY, but that was really just about the only other new bit of work I did that wasn’t related to sorting out folders. I have added several new relations to my family tree in the process of going through my folders, and some of that involved looking up new details.
I am really missing doing any proper new research, all this organising is taking it’s toll on me and I now just want to get it out of the way and start moving on to new ground. I might start a few bits of proper research this week, but really I need to get things organised to finish off the GEERINGs of Hailsham, before I get too carried away with new avenues of research.
This week I am going to get all the folders sorted apart from the GEERING and GASSON ones (which will be left for the following week). Also I will get together a plan for East Sussex Record Office (where I still haven’t booked a seat yet or ordered documents yet) and contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (which I still haven’t done either) in preparation for starting back on the GEERINGs again.