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Shared history of West Sussex and United States to be explored at June symposium

Courtesy: West Sussex County Council

Organised by West Sussex Record Office, the symposium will take place on Saturday 11 June 2022 from 10am to 4.30pm

Next month, people from across the world will come together for the free Transatlantic Ties Symposium at the University of Chichester.

The symposium, which will mark the end of the Transatlantic Ties project, will be a day of lectures and presentations exploring the shared history of West Sussex and the United States.

Organised by West Sussex Record Office, the symposium will take place on Saturday 11 June 2022 from 10am to 4.30pm with lunch and refreshments provided.

The keynote speaker for the day will be Emily Sneff, a PhD candidate in the Harrison Ruffin Tyler Department of History at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Before graduate school, she was the Research Manager of the Declaration Resources Project at Harvard University and collaborated with Danielle Allen on researching the Sussex Declaration held at the Record Office in Chichester.

Wendy Walker, County Archivist at West Sussex Record Office, said: “The Sussex Declaration has sent us on a voyage of discovery amongst the West Sussex archives, which have revealed a wealth of fascinating stories that we are looking forward to sharing with everyone. We are extremely grateful to The Andrew W Mellon Foundation for making this possible and to everyone who has worked with us on this amazing project.”

Also speaking will be Anthony Howe, Emeritus Professor of Modern History at the University of East Anglia, Fiona Price, Professor of English Literature at the University of Chichester, and novelist Francis Spufford, who will be giving a reading from his novel Golden Hill, set in 18th century New York.

A new Transatlantic Ties website will also be launched at the symposium showcasing the results of this research including digital access to the archives and online learning resources.

Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Support, Fire and Rescue, said: “It is amazing to see the journey that our Record Office has been on since the incredible discoveries about the Sussex Declaration over the last five years. So many exciting stories have now been unearthed which link our county to the United States and without the initial revelations about this intriguing document none of this work would have been possible.

“We have also been very fortunate that the University of Chichester, the Royal Sussex Regimental Association and the University of Sussex have all come on board and participated as partners in the project over its duration. The success of this project has been a group effort and one which I hope many people will be able to discover when they attend the symposium in June, allowing them to become part of the ongoing story that continues to be woven between the United States and West Sussex.”

The two-and-a-half-year project was made possible by a $100,000 (£74,000) grant awarded to West Sussex County Council by The Andrew W Mellon Foundation in New York.

The grant has since been used to explore the historical connections between America and West Sussex through the rich and diverse archival collections at the Record Office.

The Transatlantic Ties project came on the back of the discoveries surrounding the Sussex Declaration in 2017-18 at West Sussex Record Office.

The rare copy of the US Declaration of Independence is one of only two ceremonial parchment manuscript copies in existence. The other is housed in The National Archives in Washington DC.

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