A Lifetime Doing Family History Research
Joyce Baggerly of Provo is an Accredited Genealogist® who has been doing family history work for 50 years.
“When I was a little girl in Indiana, one of my favorite things was to sit down with either of my grandmothers and go through our family photo albums,” she said. That early fascination with her ancestors found its purpose later when Joyce joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was 20 years old, serving in the US Marine Corps, and there was an LDS woman in her barracks. “She had been on a mission,” Joyce said. “She had a copy of The Instructor on her bed, and there was a picture of David O. McKay with some Boy Scouts.”
Riveted by the photo of President McKay, Joyce asked her, “Who is that man?”
“He’s a prophet of God,” she said.
At first she found that hard to believe, but in 1960 she joined the Church, attending a small military branch and learning about the gospel while she continued her military service.
“I had only been in the Church four months when the first call for four generations came down,” she said. “So I started collecting information, writing letters.” Soon she had more than four generations, but since the Church was only asking for four, that’s what she submitted. Then in the 1980s she submitted the six or seven generations of her ancestors she had compiled.
She doesn’t work as a professional genealogist, but “In theory I’m a professional,” Joyce said. “I’ve published a lot.” One article she wrote for the Indiana Historical Society Journal was about one of her distant cousins who had 12 books of poetry published. “Lots of her poems were about family members, but you wouldn’t know that unless you knew the family,” she said. So her article explains the connections between the cousin’s poems and the family members.
She has been researching an article about four Baggerly brothers in Clark County, Indiana, who all enlisted in the Army during the Civil War. “Hardly ever are four brothers in the same unit at the same time,” she said. But “The Four Baggerly Brothers of Company I,” as she calls her article, gives their history.
Joyce retired from BYU 12 years ago and decided to start writing a family history. “I thought it would take me two years. I’m now 12 years into it, a third of the way done,” she said.
She also has discovered Google Books. At a class at an earlier BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy, she learned how to use Google Books for genealogy. “It’s now one of my steps. I have a regular process” for research, she said. She was hooked when she searched Google Books for her third great-grandfather David Baggerly and “lo and behold,” she found his oldest son, David T. Baggerly, in the Congressional Record. “It seems that when David Baggerly’s family moved to Kentucky, both David and his son David T. voted in the election of 1832. But Congress disallowed their votes because they hadn’t been living there a year. From that I know when they moved from Virginia and was able to confirm I had the right David.”