The searchroom is the area of the Record Office where you can gain access to, and study, the vast array of records and documents available in our archives.
For some collections you will be able to access the originals. For others you will be able to view the information on microfiche or microfilm.
Please see our Visiting the Record Office page for information on planning a visit.
Entry to the searchroom
Before entering the searchroom, you must store all bags and briefcases in a personal locker. Lockers are situated in the reception area.
Transparent bags for carrying papers and pencils into the searchroom are available from the receptionist.
Cameras are allowed, but there is a charge - see the DIY photography section below.
Once you have shown your Archives Card, the receptionist will unlock the secure access door to let you into the searchroom. Staff will check for the return of documents you have been using before you leave the room. This ensures the documents in our care are safe and available for public use.
Please only use pencils and do not lean on any documents when in the searchroom to avoid damage to records.
Because the archives are kept in special strongrooms, you will need to consult our online catalogue or the indexes and catalogues in the searchroom. This will help you decide which records you would like to have brought out for you to see.
Many documents, particularly those used frequently for family history research, are only available on microfilm or microfiche. This saves wear and tear on the original documents, and also allows access to microfilmed documents held elsewhere.
Due to the need for quarantine measures, you must pre-order documents, including maps, by 9.00am on the Friday before your appointment to visit the searchroom. You can order up to six items. Please discuss your requirements with Record Office staff.
Copies of documents
Copies of documents and photos
We offer a wide range of copying facilities, from basic photocopying to high definition scanning. Reproductions of, or extracts from, documents or photos must not be published without permission of the County Archivist. You must also acknowledge the owner of the document/photo and the Record Office.
Currently, we are unable to photocopy documents during your visit. You will need to order and pay for copies remotely. Please make a note of the catalogue number of the item and any other information that will help us to meet your needs.
Arrangements can be made by prior appointment to bring in your own digital camera. We charge £12.00 per day and a 'DIY photography request form' (with copyright declaration) must also be completed before you start taking photographs - forms will be available in the Searchroom when you arrive.
Please note that some collections are subject to restrictions on digital photography. For some, notably the Petworth House Archives and Goodwood Archives, prior permission from the owner is required.
Please contact us before your visit for advice.
You may, if you wish, purchase five one-day permits in advance for £48.00 (thereby saving £12.00). Any unused permits expire after six months.
- Searchroom leaflet 1: How to use the searchroom (PDF, 281KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 2: How to use microfiche and film (PDF, 186KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 4: Card indexes (PDF, 145KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 5: How to research the history of your house (PDF, 337KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 6: Sources for family history at the Record Office (PDF, 467KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 8: Our catalogues online (PDF, 327KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 9: Resources on the public access computers (PDF, 336KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 10: Safe handling of documents (PDF, 164KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 11: Tracing military ancestors (PDF, 536KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 12: Data Protection (PDF, 260KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 13: Soldiers of the Royal Sussex Regiment (PDF, 415KB)
- Guidelines for using the searchroom (PDF, 72KB)