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.
There is no booking system for reserving tables, public access computers or readers, so please help yourself to an available seat.
Entry to the searchroom
Before entering the searchroom you will be asked to sign the visitors' book.
All bags, briefcases and mobile phones must be stored in a personal locker, situated in the reception area on payment of a £1.00 returnable deposit.
Transparent bags for carrying papers and pencils into the searchroom are available from the receptionist.
Cameras are allowed if booked in advance, for which there is a chargeable fee - see the DIY photography section below.
Once you have signed in the receptionist will activate the security lock on the access door to let you into the searchroom. Similarly, you will not be able to leave the searchroom before staff have checked that any documents you have been using have been returned. This helps to ensure the safety of the documents in our care and their availability for public consultation.
Once in the searchroom, please only use pencils and do not lean on any documents, to avoid damaging them.
Because the archives are kept in special strongrooms, you will need to consult our online catalogue or the indexes and catalogues in the searchroom to 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.
We are unable to produce original documents (including maps) from the strongrooms between 12.15pm-1.30pm. Documents are also not produced after 4.15pm on weekdays and 4.00pm on Saturdays.
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 Reproductions of, or extracts from, documents or photos must not be published without permission of the County Archivist.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.
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 3: Copying services (PDF, 340KB)
- 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 7: GRO indexes (PDF, 418KB)
- Searchroom leaflet 8: Our catalogues online (PDF, 139KB)
- 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)