Pharos Partners

National Genealogical Society

National Genealogical Society

The National Genealogical Society, (USA) with offices in Arlington VA, approached Pharos to work with them to create a course which shows those with British ancestry how to "leap the pond" and discover their roots in the British Isles. Pharos was chosen as a course provider due to the experience of its instructors, the reasonable cost to students, and its location in the UK.

Education has always been a key part of the NGS, both to advance the knowledge of their own members and to inform the American public about all aspects of genealogy. The NGS publishes the renowned National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) and the NGS Magazine four times per year. Members may also read or subscribe to the free blog, UpFront with NGS.

The Course:
My British Isles Origins: When and How do I Cross the Pond?

This 4 week course concentrates on the period from 1600 to 1830. It begins with advice on identifying your immigrant ancestor in America, supported with historical information on population movements before and after the Revolution. Sources most likely to offer clues about origins are explained and presented with research strategies.

The focus changes in the second lesson to your ancestors origins in the British Isles. The topics covered include: major migrations out – when, where from, where to; sources for searching within particular migrant groups; and, advice on searching for people who do not fit any patterns. There is also advice on how to make the best use of surname information and survey techniques.

Lessons 3 and 4 look at records in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, discussed according to time period. The emphasis is on using Web resources and on helping you develop the skills to initiate searches after the course. You will try out online indexes, sites that lead you to sources, and finding aids that help you locate sources that may or may not be online. The course shows you how to identify and select the best records to search based on your problem, minimum information required for a search, and ease of access.

At the end of the course you will understand the challenges to be faced in "crossing the pond" and have had some practical experience such as locating places, searching online records and catalogues, and transcribing an early will. You will have an opportunity to prepare a research plan and have it reviewed by the instructor.

Author: Sherry Irvine


  • - Find Your Immigrant Ancestor
  • - When, Where From, Where To and Who?
  • - 1713 - 1830: Indexes Sources and Strategies
  • - 1600 - 1712: Indexes Sources and Strategies


Discount for NGS Members

Members of the National Genealogical Society can receive a 15% discount off the price of this course by using the link found within the members only area of the society's website.

If you are a member of NGS, the members log-in page can be found here.
If you are interested in knowing mare about NGS member benefits, they can be found here.

Biographical Note
Sherry Irvine, BA (History), MSc., Courtenay, BC, Canada

Sherry has been teaching and lecturing about family history for over 30 years. She has taught for college adult education and credit programs. She has lectured in five countries, and since 2001, has been teaching British research methods online. She is a founder and director of Pharos Teaching and Tutoring, a UK online teaching company.

Sherry's genealogical background includes operating her own business for 11 years, a bookstore and research service. She sold the business to concentrate on writing, teaching and lecturing. Sherry is the author of books on English, Scottish, Irish and Canadian research. For several years she taught courses on English and Scottish research methods and led the study tours to Britain for Samford University's Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research.


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