Gladys McConnell was born 30 November 1892, in Cedar City, Iron County, Utah, to LaFayette and Emily Wilkinson McConnell. Although her profession was pharmacology, she made a significant contribution through collecting and recording details of pioneer, local, and family history. An early survey of her collection by Inez Cooper indicated that her "heart was tuned to the historical heritage of her beloved hometown. . ." and she attempted to "preserve that heritage and to portray sensitively and as vividly as possible a picture of pioneer times, personalities, achievements, and surroundings." Her interest in writing extended to creative works such as scripts and short stories.

She attended public school in Cedar City, completing grammar school in 1907 and graduating from the four-year high school course of the Branch Normal School in 1911. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree with a high school certificate from the University of Utah in August 1917, and a Utah Board of Education Diploma of High School Grade in October 1918. She taught school until 1920.

She studied pharmacology at the University of Colorado, and received License No. 1117, as a Registered Pharmacist for the State of Utah on 1 July 1926. She operated a family drug store with her father until 1939, and later worked as a pharmacist at other stores.

She was active in the Cedar City Business and Professional Women's Club, the State Federation of Women's Clubs, the Cedar City Camp of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, and the Utah Pharmaceutical Association.

She died in Cedar City on 19 September 1964, after a long illness.