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Family and Local History

Town & Village Guides Town & Village Guides


Our Town and Village Guides cover a range of resources available for research and general interest on your local area.

West Sussex Past Pictures West Sussex Past Pictures


West Sussex Past Pictures has thousands of historical images from West Sussex Library Service and local museums for you to explore.

West Sussex Past Portal West Sussex Past Portal
Marian Frost Marian Frost

Photograph of Marian Frost and the staff of Worthing Museum and Library


Have you seen our blog about Marian Frost, the pioneering Victorian librarian of Worthing Library and Museum?

Sussex Archaeological Collections Sussex Archaeological Collections

Sussex Archaeological Society Sussex Past Logi


The Sussex Archaeological Collections 1847-2019 are now available free online through the Archaeology Data Service.

WW2 & VE Day WW2 & VE Day


Visit our VE Day and WW2 web page for a wide range of resources including photographs, audio clips from veterans, newspaper reports of the day, plus links to information from other organisations. 

National Library of Scotland Maps National Library of Scotland Maps

National Library of Scotland maps logo


National Library of Scotland Maps


Digitised historical maps covering England and Wales as well as Scotland. 

Current Offer › Family & Local History

Family and Local History Family and Local History

Trace your family history or investigate the history of where you live. We can help you get started with access to online family and local history resources including websites, maps and photographs.


Not a member? Join here

Ask A Librarian Ask A Librarian

Our librarians are here to help answer your questions. If you have a family or local history enquiry fill in an Ask a Librarian form.


Through our free 30 minute enquiry service, we will respond to you with an answer to your query within 7 working days. This service is for everyone in West Sussex, not just library members.

Findmypast Findmypast

Find My Past

Findmypast is available to library members in all West Sussex Libraries (not from home) and offers a range of UK databases to help you trace your family tree. Unique collections include the 1939 register of households at the start of WW2, and school admission registers and log books from the beginning of the 20th Century. 


The 1921 Census was released in January 2022, initially on a pay-to-view basis only. Although this means it won’t be included in our library subscription at the moment, free access for us is expected later in 2022. Visit Findmypast for more information about the 1921 Census and associated pricing.


Please note that our although our FMP subscription does not include access to the British Newspaper Archive, we have a separate subscription to the BNA, (available in our libraries only).


For more information about Findmypast, download or read our helpsheet here or watch these videos:



Ancestry Ancestry

Ancestry Library Edition


Ancestry is available to library members in all West Sussex Libraries (not from home), and includes a collection of worldwide databases covering everything from census returns to passenger lists.


Download or read our helpsheet here.

The videos below will give you a quick introduction to Ancestry and how to search for your ancestors. Please be aware that the Ancestry homepage has recently changed and this is not reflected in these videos.



Free Online Resources from West Sussex Libraries Free Online Resources from West Sussex Libraries

To access any of these resources from home, follow the link and where instructed enter your library card number.


The Enquiries Team are here to help with any queries.


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography logo

Dictionary of National Biography is available to library members from home. It gives a huge amount of information on famous or notable people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond. It includes biographies of over 60,000 men and women who died in or before 2016.



Illustrated London News logo

Illustrated London News is available to library members from home. It was the world’s first fully illustrated weekly newspaper. The publication presented a vivid picture of British and world events — including news of war, disaster, ceremonies, the arts, and science — with coverage in the first issue ranging from the Great Fire of Hamburg to Queen Victoria’s fancy dress ball at Buckingham Palace.


Times Digital Archive logo

Times Digital Archive (TDA) is available to library members from home. It is an online archive of more than 200 years of The Times, covering 1785 - 2014.


Who's Who and Who Was Who logo




Who's Who and Who was Who is available to library members from home. It is an encyclopaedia of influential and noteworthy people in all areas of public life. It includes authors, pop stars, royalty and many more.

Family Search Family Search

Family Search logoFamily Searchfree database including billions of indexed records from around the world including UK parish registers and census.

Genuki Genuki

Genuki logo


Genuki genealogical resources and links


Free virtual reference library of genealogical information for the UK and Ireland.

Billion Graves Billion Graves

Billion Graves logo

BillionGraves is the world's largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data, based on images of headstones. You don't need to register in order to search and view basic information including images.

British History Online British History Online

British History Online logoBritish History Online


A digital library of key printed primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain.

Free BMD Free BMD

Free BMD logoFreeBMD 

Transcriptions of the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales.

General Register Office General Register Office

General Register Office logo

General Register Office 


Search their indexes and order birth, death and marriage certificates online (registration required).

Borrow eBooks Borrow eBooks


You can now borrow e books about Sussex and family history for free with your library card. Browse our Celebrate Sussex reading list and download books through our e book provider Libby 

eMagazines eMagazines

Who do you Think You Are and BBC History are both available from our eMagazines

Who Do You Think You Are Magazine Cover

British Newspaper Archive British Newspaper Archive


British Newspaper Archive contains regional historical newspapers covering the 18th-20th century from the British Library collection.


This is available to library members in all West Sussex Libraries (not from home).


You will need to set up a free account with the British Newspaper Archive. When you next log in, you will be able to access the archive and a personal 'My Research' area.


Download or read our helpsheet here.

The National Archives The National Archives

National Archives Logo


The National Archives is the official archive and publisher for the UK Government, and for England and Wales. Currently the National Archives are offering free access to digital records. Registered users will be able to order and download up to ten items at a time, to a maximum of 50 items over 30 days. 

Cyndi's List Cyndi's List

Cyndi's List Logo


Cyndi's List 


A gateway to genealogical websites around the world.

Sussex Family History Group Sussex Family History Group

Sussex Family History Group Logo

The Sussex Family History Group is a 3000+ community who share an interest in Sussex Family and Local History. 


Find other local and family history groups on our Local Clubs & Societies database. 

House History House History


If you're researching the history of your house, the National Archives House Research Guide is a good place to start. West Sussex Record Office also have many sources to help with your investigations.

Dictionary of Family Names Dictionary of Family Names

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names  covers English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Cornish and immigrant surnames in the UK. It includes every surname with currently more than 100 bearers and those with 20 or more bearers in the 1881 census. Every entry gives you the name's history and includes famous people who have held the name in the past.

To view the dictionary from home, login using your library card number.

Staying Safe Online Staying Safe Online

Staying Safe Online image

Don't forget to stay safe online. For the latest advice, guidance and information:

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