Hi WikiTreers,

Welcome to a new installment of “Meet our Members.

Meet Gaile Connolly. Gaile became a WikiTreer in October of 2014 and spends most of her time on our site writing thorough biographies like this one (Devore-1012) and this one (Oliver-8230).

What are some of the surnames you are researching?

Gordon, Bresnick, Lichtman, Deitel for my family and Connolly, Lynch, Eichert for my husband’s side.

What are some of the locations you are researching?

Lithuania, Hungary, Ukraine, Ireland, Romania.

When and how did you get interested in genealogy and family history?

About eight years ago, one of my (adult) grandsons asked about family history.  While trying to answer his questions, I got hooked.

Who’s your favorite ancestor and why?

That’s a tough one because the context of the question suggests that it should be someone too far back for me to have known, but I have not been able to find out anything personal about any ancestors whom I didn’t know personally.  

I suppose I would have to say my paternal grandmother. Although I knew her for the first 20 years of my life, I didn’t really “know” her because she was never all there as far back as I can remember. I have heard all the family stories about her traveling alone from Russia to the United States when she was 12 or 13 years old, then learning English, finding a job, getting married, and being abandoned by her husband when she had two toddler sons.  

About two years ago, from my research, I discovered that there was a good portion of that story that was not true, but the truth still has her overcoming a lot of adversity. I guess that I admire her strength of character, even though it didn’t show through when I knew her; I only wish I had been able to have intelligent conversation with her.

Tell us about a brick wall you were able to break down or one you hope to bust through.

“A brick wall” is much too simple for what I have been – and still am – going through.  It’s more like a maze made of brick walls and blind alleys leading to dead ends that have to be broken through, that only lead to more of the maze, followed by another dead end.  Of the ones remaining, I can’t possibly pick just one – all four of my grandparents were immigrants. I am totally stuck at ancestors who remained in the Eastern European countries of their birth (in the cases of my grandfathers, I’m not even 100% sure what countries those are).  I am also just as stuck on my husband’s family as soon as I try to get beyond his immigrant ancestors – one side Irish and the other Romanian.

How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?

I’ve been here almost four years and mostly add profiles, with as many sources as I can find and writing biographies as full as I can make them.  I also am very appreciative of the incredible genealogy education I have received from so many members with so much expertise and try to pay it forward by sharing my technical expertise – I’m a retired systems engineer, currently a professional web developer, and take great pride in my ability to translate technobabble to English for people who aren’t especially computer friendly.  As a result, I spend a lot of time on G2G, asking genealogy questions and answering technical questions.

What brought you to WikiTree? (In other words, how did you find us?)

I saw an article on CNN about AJ Jacobs when he was generating a lot of publicity about the Global Family Reunion (then about a year in the future).  It mentioned WikiTree so I took a look and quickly became hooked.

What is your favorite thing about WikiTree, or which feature(s) do you like the most?

This question is easy – even though there are many things I like here, collaboration is head and shoulders above everything else.  I find it so rewarding to work on profiles with other members. My very best experiences have been working on military heroes with Eddie King – he’s the greatest and I am amazed over and over by the info he digs up from all kinds of obscure sources, and seemingly effortlessly.  He dumps material – facts and sources – in the profile, then I organize it and add eye candy (images and fancy formatting). Sometimes, I run to him when I need more information and can’t find it and he ALWAYS delivers. If I were working alone, I’d probably become discouraged and give up much sooner.

If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be?

As a professional developer of database driven websites, I have a lot of ideas about the way websites should be designed, both for functionality and user friendliness.  Although there are several things I think WikiTree could do much better, I am not privy to the specifics of its database architecture, software design, hardware resources, or the hierarchy of its technical objectives therefore it is not appropriate for me to make a public statement of the improvements that I see as needs.

What is an example of how WikiTree has helped you with your genealogy or how you’ve helped genealogy with WikiTree?

Oh my gosh!  Let me count the ways I have been helped … we can start with learning what genealogy is, then how to do research, how to write biographies, all about sources and why they matter.  When I started, G2G was the conduit for my receiving an introduction to genealogy from Anne B, Jillaine Smith, and Maggie N – the best of the best! Where else could I have found mentors with their expertise and generosity in sharing their knowledge, and let’s not forget their patience with my naivete?

It would be way too presumptuous for me to think I have achieved sufficient competence to be able to help genealogy in any way!

Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?

Ask for help with anything and everything – from finding information to writing biographies and learning the pseudo-coding language called wiki code that we have to use here.  WikiTree members are ready, willing, and able … in fact, anxious … to help newcomers.


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  2 Responses to “Meet our Members: Gaile Connolly”

  1. Gaile, you have the most amusing profile on Wikitree! Thanks so much for being a member 🙂

  2. Way to go Gaile!! If i could only have added what a tremendous help you have been to me and my search in the month since you answered my request for help. Even better, we now can sort through data together to discover the Lichtman family.

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