More about the OPC Scheme

The idea for the OPC scheme started in Cornwall, was then taken up by Devon and Dorset and, with the encouragement of the Sussex Family History Group, this site is Sussex's response to the challenge.

The idea behind the scheme is to make freely available information and records relating to a parish in order to further research in family, local, social and economic history. Sussex, comprising two counties, East and West Sussex has around 324 parishes. If volunteers could be found to take on all these we could have all the parish registers and census transcribed for the whole of Sussex completed within a year or so - and what an amazing resource that would be!

However, please remember that OPCs are volunteers, giving their time freely to improve the ease of access to parish information. Please treat them with courtesy and be patient, the scheme is in its infancy - and if you have a little time on your hands, an offer of help with transcription work will not, I am sure, be shunned! Also remember that the OPC may not live anywhere near the parish they are working on - we have volunteers in very distant places.

Here is how it works:

An OPC chooses a parish (some do more than one) and transcribes records to create a database of information for research purposes.

The volunteer chooses what to transcribe and in what order and to what timescales - everyone has different amounts of time available. Typically church registers and census returns would be early candidates, however any information relating to the parish will be of interest. It is the volunteer's responsibility to gain access to the documents to transcribe.

Ultimately the volunteer could end up with a database of every person who has ever been in or through a parish since records began!

There is also a choice on how a volunteer can make the information available to all:

  • Contact using e-mail, with lists of resources available on a parish page on the OPC site, with a manual look up service.
  • Transcripts and resources on the OPC's own website, with a link from the Parish list on the OPC site.
  • Transcripts available on the OPC website.

Of course a volunteer OPC may choose to mix and match, with some transcriptions on the OPC site, with a look up service using email for other sources. Clearly, the scheme would encourage publishing on the web, however not everyone will wish to do this.

A volunteer will find the work rewarding, it may help identify further sources for research and will generally add to your knowledge of parish life through the centuries. If you work on a parish where you have ancestors, you may well add to your knowledge of your own family links as a result of your efforts.

It is hoped that all volunteers will also be willing to donate some of their data to the FreeCens and FreeReg projects, who share the same objectives of free information to all.


It is the responsibility of the OPC to obtain access to the original information and seek any necessary permissions to transcribe the information. There is much information available in the public domain and permission is usually given to publish transcriptions of parish registers and census returns.

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