Press Release: WikiTree Challenge Breaks 500th Brick Wall for Guest Stars

+98 votes

Press Release July 8, 2021: In January of this year, WikiTree launched its biggest community event ever: The WikiTree Challenge. Each week, a team of volunteers attempts to expand and improve the family tree of a special guest star. Our guests have been leaders in the genealogy industry and top professional genealogists.

Can amateur genealogy collaboration improve on a leading genealogist’s own genealogy? The answer is a resounding “Yes”! We have now broken through over 500 “brick walls” for our guest stars!

The 500th brick wall was broken this week during our challenge for Sephardic Jewish specialist Jarrett Ross. Our volunteers made new discoveries for him on five separate family lines.

The brick wall count only includes the first person in a line that is new to our guest. Two thousand ancestors beyond the brick walls have also been discovered, and 5,500 nuclear relatives of ancestors. Each relative now has a carefully-sourced profile on WikiTree.

Our teams have made discoveries for best-selling author AJ Jacobs (seven brick walls broken), leading genetic genealogist CeCe Moore (23 brick walls), and the host of PBS TV’s “Finding Your Roots,” Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (nine new ancestors!).

“Establishing where you are in the uncertainty of being, the uncertainty of life, somehow gives you a foundation. I am very moved by what you’ve done.” --Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

The most successful week so far has been for genealogy novelist Nathan Goodwin: 61 brick walls broken. For “Genealogy TV’ host Connie Knox and software entrepreneur Dallan Quass there were 43 and 42 respectively. Close behind were the weeks for Melissa Barker (34), Ellen Thompson-Jennings (34), Katherine Willson (34), Scott Fisher (32), Gena Philbert-Ortega (31) and Rob Warthen (27).

We broke 20 brick walls for Pat “Dear Myrtle” Richley-Erickson (“Wow! It’s just astonishing!”), 18 for Jen Baldwin, 16 for Thomas MacEntee, 14 for Devon Noel Lee, 12 for Tim Janzen, eight for Jonny Perl, five for Cheri Passey and four for Yvette Hoitink.  We were even able to surprise “Legal Genealogist” Judy Russell by breaking one of her brick walls.

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in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)

C'est Bon Magnifique !!!!

Breaking brick walls for those folks you list is wonderful for their trees!

Have we/you ever considered how many other trees have grown new branches based on the brick walls that were shattered? If we could just look at "active" (donʻt know what criteria to use for active) members and see one brick wall broken - how many tree improvements would we be counting? I am curious to look at my own.

Your success is overwhelming.
Amazing news!  Bravo to all of the Wikitreers who worked on this effort!

There's a new highlights video with clips:

9 Answers

+43 votes

This is just amazing! Congratulations to everyone who's worked on these challenges. Well done all of you!

by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Pilot (239k points)
+40 votes

WikiTree: Making a difference! 


by Bartley McRorie G2G6 Pilot (103k points)
+36 votes
I'm glad to be a part of this! Let's keep the momentum going! Can we make it to 1000 by Christmas? Time will tell! Keep it up, Wikitreers! This hype train ain't stopping!
by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (558k points)
Now that's a goal worth working toward!
I'm with you Chris - let's shoot for the stars!!
It would be a great Christmas wish. =D
+35 votes
OMG! This is fabulous!! Makes me so proud to be a member of this community. Way to go, WikiTree!!
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)
+26 votes
Incredible work WikiTree Challenge Team members! The collaboration is a sight to see, truly amazing!
by Laura DeSpain G2G6 Pilot (401k points)
+10 votes
Congrats to all!
by Shelley Murphy G2G6 Mach 1 (10.8k points)
+8 votes
Good job, laddies and ladies!
by Clifford Carter G2G6 Mach 1 (14.0k points)
+4 votes
Thank you for all of the time spent, your diligence and devoted work! I am thankful and understand your effort will benefit us all!
by Shawnee Brooks G2G2 (2.4k points)
+1 vote
My maternal grandfather's mother's branch of the family is a definite brick wall, as is my maternal grandmother's paternal grandmother's branch.  The former goes back to 19th century Germany, the latter to 19th century France.  It's not the language barrier, especially for French, it's just finding the information.
by Scott Hutchins G2G6 Mach 2 (20.4k points)

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