West Sussex transatlantic project given £76,000 boost

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were shown the Sussex Declaration when they visited West Sussex in October.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were shown the Sussex Declaration when they visited West Sussex in October.

A project celebrating transatlantic links between West Sussex and the USA has been awarded a $100,000 (£76,000) grant, the county council has revealed.

West Sussex County Council said the record office has been awarded the grant for its new Transatlantic Ties project by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York.

A spokesman said: "The project will explore and promote the close historical connections between America and West Sussex through the wealth of archival material for the county.

"The Record Office in Chichester is home to the Sussex Declaration, a rare copy of the US Declaration of Independence – one of only two ceremonial parchment manuscript copies in existence. The other is housed in the National Archives in Washington DC.

"Transatlantic Ties will build on recent discoveries about the Sussex Declaration and the research project that has been carried out by Harvard University, the Library of Congress, the British Library and West Sussex Record Office over the last two years. Last year scientific testing of the document supported the hypothesis of Harvard University researchers that the document dates from the 1780s."

Louise Goldsmith, county council leader, said: “We are thrilled at this news! It is almost unheard of for a major US foundation to honour a British Record Office in this way and will allow us to celebrate our transatlantic ties.

“I am delighted staff will be able to build on the discoveries made about the Sussex Declaration which has definitely put West Sussex and the Record Office on the map and highlighted the importance of our collections and West Sussex heritage.”

Wendy Walker, County Archivist was also 'delighted' by the news. She said: “It has been a very real pleasure to work with colleagues at Harvard University, the Library of Congress and the British Library on this voyage of discovery over the last two years.

"I am delighted that we are now able to build on this work and am extremely grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for awarding us this grant."

The county council said the Transatlantic Ties project will 'celebrate and open up access to the wealth of historical resources' relating to American history dating from 1701-1865.

The spokesman added: "The project will include; the development of an American collection of digital resources using original archives at the record office; a new Transatlantic Ties website providing access to all of these research resources on both sides of the Atlantic; the development of online teaching and learning resources for schools; colleges and universities

and a a public outreach programme, exhibition and other activities culminating in an international symposium."