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Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Gilbreth Collection 1962-1972


Overview of the Collection

Creator: Gilbreth, Frank Bunker, 1868-1924 Gilbreth, Lillian Moller, 1878-1972
Title: Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Gilbreth Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1962-1972
Quantity: 1 Box (1.5 Linear Feet)
Abstract:This collection houses tributes to and biographical material regarding Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in addition to reprints of speeches and articles by Lillian Gilbreth that were published in professional and engineering journals.
Identification: MS SC NM-6
Language: Material in English
Repository: Arizona State University Library. Rare Books and Manuscripts
Arizona State University Library
P.O. Box 871006
Tempe, AZ 85287-1006
Phone: (480) 965-4932
Questions? Ask An Archivist!

Biographical Note

Frank Bunker Gilbreth was born to John and Martha (Bunker) Gilbreth in Fairfield, Maine on July 7, 1868. After his father died of pneumonia in 1871, his mother moved the family to Boston, where she opened a boarding house. Martha Gilbreth used the money generated by the boarding house and money that her sister Caroline earned with her artwork to send her two daughters, Anne and Mary, to college. Frank Gilbreth passed MIT's entrance exams in 1885 but decided to enter the construction trade as a bricklayer instead. He soon noticed that the bricklayers he trained each used their own technique and devised a method that eliminated unnecessary motions and improved efficiency. Gilbreth founded his own contracting firm, Frank Gilbreth and Company, in 1895. It soon became known for finishing jobs early and under budget.

Frank Gilbreth married Lillian Evelyn Moller and she immediately became a full partner in the business. In 1907, Frank Gilbreth met Frederick Winslow Taylor (the developer of time study) and became deeply involved with scientific management research. The Gilbreths left construction in 1912 to focus on scientific management and devised their own form of the practice in 1914. Lillian Gilbreth completed her Doctorate in Psychology in 1915 and incorporated her training into her work. The Gilbreths' system both attempted to improve worker satisfaction (thus improving overall performance and efficiency) and to reduce fatigue by completing tasks using the fewest possible number of movements. The Gilbreths were also interested in improving worker comfort and pioneered the study of ergonomics.

The Gilbreths had thirteen children: Anne Moller (Gilbreth) Barney (1905-1987), Mary Elizabeth (1906-1912), Ernestine Gilbreth-Carey (1908-2006), Martha B. (Gilbreth) Tallman (1909-1968), Frank Bunker (1911-2001), William Moller (1912-1990), Lillian (Gilbreth) Johnson (1914-2001), Infant Girl (1915-1915), Frederick Moller (1916-), Daniel Bunker (1917-2006), John Moller (1919-2002), Robert Moller "Bob" (1920-2007), and Jane Moller (Gilbreth) Heppes (1922-2006). The older children were assigned to care for the younger children and all of the children had daily household chores (including the toddlers, who were assigned to dusting table legs). The children often participated in their parents' research, including Frank Gilbreth's motion studies on typing and surgery. Two of the couple's children, Frank and Ernestine, memorialized the family in Cheaper by the Dozen (1948).

Frank Gilbreth died of a heart attack in 1924. Lillian Gilbreth continued their work and put all of her children through college before retiring in 1968. She died on January 2, 1972.

Scope and Content Note

This collection houses tributes to and biographical material regarding Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in addition to reprints of speeches and articles by Lillian Gilbreth that were published in professional and engineering journals.


This collection consists of one box.


Access Restrictions

To view this collection, make an appointment at least five business days prior to your visit by contacting Ask an Archivist or calling (480) 965-4932. Appointments are available from Monday through Friday from 9-5, on a first come, first served basis, on the ASU Tempe or West campuses.


Arizona State University does not own copyright to this collection. Distinctive Collections recognizes that it is incumbent upon the researcher to procure permission to publish information from this collection from the owner of the copyright.

Related Material

Purdue University Libraries holds the majority of the Gilbreths' papers in MSP 7: Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Papers, 1869-2000 and MSP 8: Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Library of Management Research and Professional papers, 1845-1959.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Gilbreth, Frank Bunker, 1868-1924 -- Archives.
Gilbreth, Lillian Moller, 1878-1972 -- Archives.

Industrial management -- United States.
Women engineers -- United States.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Ernestine (Gilbreth) Carey (Mrs. Charles E.) donated these materials to the Science Division of Arizona State University's Library in April of 1972.

Credit Line

Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Gilbreth Collection, MS SC NM-6. Arizona State University Library: Rare Books and Manuscripts.


Vladimir T. Borovansky transferred these materials to Special Collections (Accession #2004-03164).

Container List

11 Listing [of Collection] as Received, 1972
12 Frank Gilbreth: Centennial Tributes and Obituary, 1968, 2001
13 Frank and Lillian Gilbreth: "The Gilbreth Story", 1962
14 Frank and Lillian Gilbreth: "Journal of Industrial Engineering", 1962 (Special Reprint)
15 Lillian Gilbreth: Speeches, Undated
16 Lillian Gilbreth: Awards, Undated
17 Lillian Gilbreth: Clippings, Undated
18 Lillian Gilbreth: Published Articles, Undated
19 Lillian Gilbreth: Sheet From Notebook, Undated
110 "The Women Engineer", 1971