It is with regret that I have learned, in November 2023, that David S. Ferguson passed away in early 2022, after a long illness. This page has been updated with that sad revelation in mind.
At the very dawn of the web, in about 1997, a safety engineer named David Ferguson created a website devoted not just to the Gilbreths, but to the then-uncommon viewpoint of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth as engineering titans. The Gilbreth Network Online attracted a number of colleagues in the field for serious discussion and appreciation on a professional level, but it of course attracted a much larger number of fans of the more popular view. A second site, Cheaper & Belles, was spun off to address those visitors (but never developed past a few sketchy pages).
David maintained the sites and had links to the family and related professional organizations for three or four years before he ran out of time to keep up the effort. By his own humorous admission, he was never a "web guy" and relied on an assistant to update the material and site structure, and she apparenly became unavailable at some point. A few updates were posted after 2003 or so, but only very few. The sites have been static since then on the old 'Tripod' public hosting service and it was my understanding, then and now, that David no longer had adminstrative access to them. It is one of the wonders of the internet's evolution that most of the sites on Tripod, which is now all but defunct as a service, remain. For how long, who knows... but it has been twenty years so far.
I had some brief correspondence with David in which he confirmed most of the above, but that with his recent retirement (as of 2011) he was hoping to find someone else to take over the sites and the task. I made a note of it... then was distracted myself for a few years. I heard nothing further from him, and the site remained static.
When I picked up this project again in early 2018, visits to David's sites showed no changes. Worse, they showed that some kind of malware bug had invaded a few pages, resulting in a profusion of pop-up ads. Fortunately, the infection was benign, but annoying and an indication that the site and host code was not being closely watched any more. (The ads and other clutter disappeared about a year later and have not recurred.) When I attempted to contact David again, his long-time email came back no-such-user. His name is common enough that occasional searches for him came up empty.
In 2023, my involvement with some of the management societies led to a renewed interest and a more diligent search. A letter to what seemed to be a current address (not the one he published in the various newsletters back in the day) brought a phone call from his widow, confirming his death about a year and a half previously.
David was awarded the Gilbreth Medal in 2001, largely for the efforts behind the web site and organization. It, and the original sites for however long the phantom mist of the web contain them, are lasting tributes to his pioneering efforts — his work at lighting the Gilbreth torch online and hosting all those with shared interests, both before and after the active era of the website. David... thanks.
Since there is no way to take over those sites and they are hosted on an essentially defunct hosting service, the information they contain could be lost at the pop of a circuit breaker somewhere in the world.. While some of the information is outdated and other pages are fairly generic (information about the family members, etc.) there is a considerable amount of work by David and other contributors that I felt was worth saving. Thus, this archival page, which I am filling with the best of the two sites — unedited and unchanged, if polished up just a little in presentation and of course with full and permanent credit to the authors. David's several essays are worth reading, and the 1997-2004 run of his newletter for the members, The Quest, contains much useful and interesting content as well. All will be both hosted here for public access, and notable archives have copies as well for the long haul.
Sharp-eyed surfers will note that I have also used his excellent site logo, of a G on a motion-study grid, for this site's web icon. Full credit to David Ferguson for this brilliantly emblematic design.
I do hope visitors here see this for what it is, an attempt to rescue and safeguard web history, and not some sort of unauthorized pillaging and plagiarism. Everything on this page and below is 100% the work of David S. Ferguson, and all due and correct credit is both assigned here and suggested for any use or citations.
The Quest: a Gilbreth Network Newsletter — Web Newsletters by David Ferguson
This issue is not on the original website and the reference to an alternate source was long obsolete. Colleague Dr. Arthur Bedeian noticed the gaps here and was kind enough to provide not just this one, but the missing Vol 7 as well. I believe my raw collection is now complete.
This issue includes a long 'supplement' of material written by Dr. William J. Jaffe of great importance to Gilbreth scholars and researchers.
I'd just like to note that I completely concur with David's assessment of Daniel Kanigel's book in this issue's editorial (with addenda in several other issues). If anything, David (and other members he quotes) are being too kind.
There are several anomalies between this issue and the two bracketing it; this issue references material not in V3n4, and the following issue duplicates one article. This may be an artifact of converting the newsletter to online form, which was done about this time.
This issue included a separate insert of an article by Prof. Dr-Ing. Sándor Vajna and Dr-Ing Dörte Freisleben. The article is included here with a link to a Word document, as on the original website.
This issue does not appear to have ever been posted in web form on the GNO website. It was transcribed from a PDF mailing copy.
This final (known) issue of the newsletter appears to have been posted on the GNO website only as a Word document.
The last updated online listing of Gilbreth Network members, with affiliations. At least some later members can be found listed in subsequent Quest issues. (Email addresses have been omitted from this listing both for privacy and because most are probably obsolete.)
Sadly, the companion site has very little worth archiving. It had a very short active life, and nearly all of its content is short summary pages of the books and movies, barely-started FAQs and placeholders. A few unique pictures have been combined in the archive page above.
However, it did have a nice banner logo, which I thought was worth preserving: