Frank B. Gilbreth: General Contractor
A database and history of the company and its projects 1895–1911
This site contains information about the career of Frank Bunker Gilbreth Sr as a commercial builder and construction innovator from 1895 through about 1910.
This era of Gilbreth's life and career remains little-explored, with the vast amount of focus given to his more famous achievements as a management consultant and efficiency engineer from about 1911 through his death in 1924. Visitors familiar with this exhaustively-documented era may be surprised at the depth and significance of Gilbreth's first career, which is usually noted only where it was a precursor to the later efforts and often minimized and misrepresented even in carefully-researched writing.
Many of the most famous elements and relationships of Gilbreth's later life are insignificant in this “construction era.” He did not meet Frederick W. Taylor until some twelve years as a solo builder, and Taylor's systems and processes were only implemented in two very late construction projects. Lillian Gilbreth, while an essential part of the duo in the joint consulting era of 1911-1924 and one of the most significant women in the world during her own career from 1925 through the 1960s, figures little in the construction era as well. And while Frank Gilbreth was obsessed with efficiency from his first days as an apprentice bricklayer, his focus was entirely on construction and construction-industry applications until Taylor's influence about 1908 caused him to consider the wider field of “efficiency engineering” for which he is best known.
In other words, this site represents a very different history of Frank B. Gilbreth, and visitors should not approach this material with the idea that it fits comfortably into the century of academic narrative focused on Frank and Lillian Gilbreth's extraordinary partnership and achievements in the last thirteen years of his life. Frankly—if I may essay the slight pun—be prepared to be astonished, and the more familiarity you might have with the conventional history of the Gilbreths, the more likely it is you will be.
|Please note that the contents of this site are almost wholly original research. Credit and citations for any use of the material here are formally requested. Backlinks from any web use of the material here will be appreciated as well. Thank you!
|And that said, this is only a beginning. There is much more to discover and learn about nearly all of these projects. If you have information or inclination to do further research on any of them, especially if you have access to local resources, please do contribute or get in touch. Full credit for all new contributions will be given.
- Note that “FBG” is the generic and collective name for all of Frank Gilbreth's construction companies and subsidiaries. It does not refer to Gilbreth as an individual.
| James Gifford
| Main Gilbreth family/book information site
www.TheGilbreths.com • • • [EXTERNAL SITE]
| Gifford, James, “Frank B. Gilbreth, General Contractor: construction projects 1895–1910,”
Construction History Journal, v.36, no.1 (Spring 2021)
|This project was enabled to an enormous degree by the thousands of books and journals digitized by Google Books and available there and on the Hathi Trust Digital Library. Without those extensive, searchable resources from 1895-1915, compiling most of the information here would have taken years, if not a decade of tedious page-by-page reading of thousands of issues and editions.