Site Updated 2024-06-12

You're Beyond Cheaper by the Dozen...
  Welcome to the Real Gilbreth Family!

You've found the world of one of America's most fascinating families.

So, who's this Frank Gilbreth guy?

The entire Gilbreth family, 1925

The Gilbreth family in 1924, shortly before Frank Bunker Gilbreth Sr's death, with all eleven children who survived to adulthood. Standing are Fred, Dan and Jack. Seated are Frank Jr, Martha, Dr. Lillian Moller Gilbreth, Frank Sr, Ernestine and Anne. On laps are Jane and Bob. Seated in front are Bill and Lillian Jr. (Original image from Purdue University archives)

news & updates

Yes, there's news in the Gilbreth world!

An FBG Centennial

June 14, 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of Frank Bunker Gilbreth's death.


Although he had been in reduced health since his (WWI) wartime illness, his sudden collapse at the local rail terminal was a shock to all, and one of the great pivot points in the Gilbreth family story.


This Flag Day was also supposed to be the publication date of the family biography, or at least its completion date. For all the usual reasons... it won't be. Stay tuned, though.

RIP David S. Ferguson

It's with regret that I have discovered that David Ferguson, the originator of the first Gilbreth website and online association, in the dawn of the net in about 1998, passed away in 2022 after a long illness.


The news was sufficient to spur me into completing the archival duplication of the contents of David's websites here, including the first complete, publicly accessible run of the original newsletter, The Quest.


RIP, David; thanks for lighting the Gilbreth torch here in the virtual world, for all of us.

New Book!

Cheaper by the Dozen at 75: A Reader's Companion is now available!


Yes, Cheaper is 75 years old in 2023, and this complete set of annotations brings new meaning and the amusing true facts behind the stories to new readers and old!

New Book Review

There's a new novel that uses Lillian Gilbreth as a make-real character. Really!


I'm not real fond of it, though.

FBG Construction Wiki!

My work on Frank Gilbreth's construction history was finally published by Construction History Journal, but it presents only six case studies and then a summary of Frank Gilbreth's many other construction accomplishments.


So in followup, I have expanded that start on the topic by adding a wiki that contains more or less my complete research notes on all ~90 of his known construction projects.

Newer Book!

The slim list of new material about Gilbreths has expanded yet again. This work is a doctoral dissertation from several years ago, finally translated into English from the original German. As such, it's pretty dense in parts, but its focus on Frank Gilbreth's time in German industry just before the war, and his development of film as a recording tool for efficiency analysis, is a welcome blast of "lost" information.

Amazon logo Angels of Efficiency
Florian Hoof, 2020

Another New Book!

Tech journalist Jonathan Waldman has written a book on the development of a robot bricklayer... with some great focus on Frank Gilbreth's lasting contributions to the art. Brand new this January—get yours now!

Amazon logo SAM: One Robot, A Dozen Engineers, and the Race to Revolutionize the Way We Build
Jonathan Waldman, 2020

New Book!

A North Carolina historian has written a wonderful book on Frank Gilbreth's largest construction project, the Champion paper mill of 1907. This is the first book ever written on any Gilbreth construction, making it a must-read for those interested in his overlooked first career.

Amazon logo Thomson's Pulp Mill
Carroll C. Jones, 2018

Historical Column!

Dr. Edward Gilbreth was intrigued enough by some notes about the history of Charleston's Roper Hospital and his grandfathers's forgotten involvement to write it all up as one of his regular columns.

(Update: article now appears to be accessible in front of the paywall. Also... the photo shows an older version of the hospital, torn down to make room for the one discussed.)

Amazon logo Gilbreth history’s surprise tie to Roper Hospital
Edward M. Gilbreth, 19 Dec 2019

More Relevant Than You Realize...

The family of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth is more than a historical or literary curiosity. Even though the significant family events are now a century in the past, the influence of all four family lines is still very much with us.

The Gilbreth family is much more than our literary friends from Cheaper by the Dozen, or two figures from slightly dusty engineering history books. And there's far more than fourteen (or so) of them. Many of the people in the Gilbreth and Bunker family (Frank's side) and Delger and Moller families (Lillian's side) were notable, influential people of their time. And much of their impact then still resonates today:

And that's just a start. (We haven't even gotten to the squirrels yet!)

There's a good chance your workplace and even your job was shaped a great deal by both Frank and Lillian's efforts—in both the way you work and the environment in which you do it. And unlike some ”management pioneers,” both then and now, the Gilbreths put the worker first.

...So Welcome to
      ...Getting to Know...

         the Gilbreth Family!

This site has two purposes:

What's Here?

A growing amount about the Gilbreth family, including ancestors, family branches and their interlocking worlds—family life in the early part of the 20th Century, the development of efficiency engineering, the careers of some astounding women who greatly exceeded educational and career norms of the day and much more.

There's already a lot of solid information here, mostly biographical, and more is being added on a regular basis. I hope a few unfinished corners won't drive anyone away.

I have started to include essays that are developing from my research, which often go much further and into more detail than is appropriate for the book. Many of these represent brand-new investigation into collateral topics—and my dedication to telling a complete and accurate tale, not one based on long-recycled and well-polished snippets. They can be found at that link or under Resources from the menu, and I invite comment and critique on each, separately from the main thrust here.

What's Coming?

More. Much more. I have extensive archives of related material and years of research on hand, and I plan to put much of it up here for public reference and entertainment. (Not as much as I plan to put into the forthcoming book, but I do have to get you to buy it, after all!)

Please do feel free to connect with me if you are at all interested in ongoing efforts, discussion and participation. I hope to build on the knowledge and interest of everyone even lightly concerned with the topic, whether they are from the engineering community, just fans and admirers of this wonderful family and its lasting accomplishments or — please! — family themselves.

So, if you share my interest in the Gilbreth family, to any degree, drop me a note. Comments, questions, encouragement, ideas and big family jokes I haven't heard all welcome.

I'm James Gifford, and no, I'm