From The Gilbreth Network Online:
The Quest, Volume 4, No. 3, Fall 2000

Compiled by David Ferguson

Newsletter of the Gilbreth Network

Fall 2000

Welcome to the current issue of The Quest, Vol. 4, No. 3, Fall 2000, published in October 2000. The Quest is published quarterly.

The Quest is published by and copyright David Ferguson.

Inside this issue:
Changes, Always Changes
Safety Alert
A New Project Begins Thanks to a Generous Doner
Keeping the Network Going


Vol. 4, No. 3 Fall 2000

Changes, Always Changes

Nothing stays the same--ever. The following are some recent changes you should know about.

First, Mary Ann Hainthaler has done it again. She's created a new web site just for people seeking information on the Gilbreth books. The site address is You can access it from our main web page. What a fantastic idea and sorely needed, based on all the questions we receive.

To go along with the new Internet site, you will be receiving a supplement with this issue of The Quest. That Most Famous Dozen is an article written with the help of Ernestine Carey, to give you some information on the Dozen and what happened after the books.(Web editor's note: you can read "That Most Famous Dozen" on line at: ) [And Archivist's note: this essay is also reproduced here.]

We have a new member with an interesting story to tell. Richard "Skip" Leifer, who can be contacted at his e-mail address: [omitted]. According to his membership application, he met Dr. Lillian Gilbreth, when he was in high school, and she was visiting his home. He states that "I have followed in her path of Productivity, etc. for 47 years since then." Maybe we can prevail upon him for a short article later. Welcome. You certainly came to the right place.

Please note: My own e-mail has changed.
Dave Ferguson

Safety Alert

by David Ferguson, CSP

As a consultant in Ergonomics and Occupational Safety (the job that pays the bills), I was first drawn to the Gilbreths by their early work in Ergonomics and Safety. As such, in the best tradition of the Gilbreths and owing to my own interest, periodically I hope to address a general information ergonomics/safety topic. You are welcome to submit questions or suggestions for this column.

It's hard to drive or walk down the street without seeing the latest craze; kids on scooters! While scooters, in one form or another, are nothing new, they haven't seen much popularity since the 1950s. For the uninitiated, a scooter is essentially two wheels, mounted to a platform, with a post having two handles. The rider places one foot on the platform and holds on to the handles, propelling him/herself with the other foot. However, the new designs, while they "look neat" are inherently unsafe, due to basic issues of balance and body mechanics.

There is always a hazard, whenever children, on whatever conveyance (be it bike, roller skates or skate board), potentially interact with vehicular traffic, let alone experience a simple fall to the ground. These new scooters have already racked up their own injury statistics. The first problem is the hand placement.

The handles on these new scooters require that the child's hands be located close together, near the centerline of the body. Add to this that the kids typically keep their hands at about their waist height. With your hands in this posture, you simply do not have good control in moving the handles. In bio-mechanics, you have better control when the hands are in line with the shoulders, such as the position found when riding a bicycle.

The second issue is balance. Like a bike, in-line skates or even skate boards, scooters require you to balance your weight on a centerline running between the front and rear wheels. This is particularly important when the rider is coasting. Again, the key to balance is hand position. When was the last time you saw a skater or skateboarder with their hands held tight over their stomachs? The arms extended to the sides of the body greatly help with balance, but this is impossible to do with the new scooter design.

When you start getting hints for holiday gifts, it would be wise to think twice about indulging your favorite child with a new scooter. If they have one already, and you can=t get them to give it up, at least require that they wear a bike helmet and elbow and knee pads for added protection.

A New Project Begins Thanks to a Generous Donor

In the last issue of The Quest, we asked for donations to help with the purchase of a new computer scanner. The purpose of this equipment was to allow us to start a new project; that of being able to offer reprints of the long-out of print Gilbreth books. [Archivist's note: another back-reference I cannot locate in prior online issues.]

I would like to take this opportunity and ask you to join me in thanking an anonymous and generous donor who made the purchase of the scanner possible. I can only say that this person has been with the Network for many years and has always offered support to our efforts. This generosity will mean that once again, the Gilbreth books will be available to those who want to learn more about their work. The scanner has been purchased and I'm happy to say that test runs, using the Optical Character Recognition software, have been 100% successful. In English, this means that I can place the page of a book on the scanner bed (which looks like a photo copy machine) and create an image file. The software then converts the image file into an actual page of word processing text. The result is that, instead of laboriously typing the book text, over many, many days of work, we can create a text document, of the entire book, in a matter of a few hours.

These Gilbreth books will follow a new trend in book publishing called "e-books" (which stands for electronic books). With e-books, the entire book is kept in a computer file. The user can then open the file and read the book on their computer screen or print it out, if desired.

During a search for information, I came upon a wonderful web site called Project Gutenberg ( ). This project, founded by Michael S. Hart, has been producing electronic copies of thousands of "public domain" books. You can access their web page and in a few minutes, download a free copy of your favorite book.

Mr. Hart has been kind enough to offer suggestions for our own project. Our plans are to offer copies of the early Gilbreth books in electronic format. We have many details to work out, but if technically possible, we will offer the files through our web site or on a CD ROM. At this point, since so many of the books contain photos and diagrams, we will likely put the books into a Microsoft Word format, which can be easily converted to other word processing formats.

Our plans are to start this winter, to start producing the Gilbreth books. Due to the quality of the scans, we need original copies of the Gilbreth books. The Hive copies, since they are reprints themselves, do not scan well for Optical Character Recognition.

Therefore, we are asking members, who have original copies of Gilbreth books (any written before 1923) to loan us the books for scanning. You would be doing your part to see that the Gilbreths' books become available to a wide audience. I will advise you, however, that in order to perform a scan of the book, the pages will be laid flat on the scanner bed, which could possibly damage the binding. We cannot assume liability for this damage, due to scanning. Otherwise, the greatest care will be taken of the borrowed books. We will be happy to reimburse you for shipping costs, and use the greatest care in packaging the book for a return shipment.

We need your help in obtaining copies of the following:

Field System
Concrete System
Bricklaying System
Psychology of Management
Motion Study for the Handicapped
Advanced Motion Study


In business, like other professions, "political correctness" has found it=s way every day language. Also, in current business etiquette, you can no longer call someone an idiot. A friend was kind enough to share some of the latest in "business speak."

Keeping the Network Going

There are many joys associated with running the Gilbreth Network. But, the one which makes me the most uncomfortable is soliciting donations. Yet it's a chore which must be done. The reality is that while we have received many generous donations in the past, the day to day operating expenses of the Network, have largely come from steadfast support of the Gilbreth family or out of my own pocket. I would like to change that with the following program.

All Members Receiving The Quest. We are asking for a minimum contribution of $5.00. This will cover materials and postage for the coming year. All members will continue to receive the newsletter, regardless of any donation. We are just asking that those who can afford the donation help to defray these costs.

We welcome any cash donations and will continue to recognize supporters using the following criteria:

Therblig- $25
Motion Study- $50
One Best Way- $100 or more

In addition to having your name listed as a contributor, donors sending $100 or more will receive an original First Day Cover of the Lillian M. Gilbreth stamp, from 1984. These unaddressed envelopes/stamps make for a lovely framed picture for your wall.

I must add while the Network invests every dime received, back into the operation or acquisition of materials, we are too small to form a non-profit organization and have been unsuccessful in forming an alliance with any other non-profit organization or institution. Therefore, I'm sorry to say that your donations are not tax deductible. However, you will be helping with our operation and our continued growth.


True Story--Just purchased some new Microsoft software, with which I was, naturally, having problems. I called their service hotline and while on the usual long hold in limbo-land, they were playing some very nice music. However, one of the songs didn't exactly fit the circumstances, as I found myself listening to an old Kinks song, whose first line is: "So tired....tired of waiting....tired of waiting for you....."

This is sort of like showing one of the Airport movies on your next airplane trip. When I told the technician the kind of music they were playing, we both cracked up.


Charter Member of the Gilbreth Network Honored

Recognized for his many contributions in engineering, Dr. Gerald Nadler will be receiving a Distinguished Service Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, College of Engineering, during an Engineers Day banquet, at the university. Dr. Nadler, who is IBM Chair Emeritus in Engineering Management and Professor Emeritus of Industrial and Systems Engineering, at the University of Southern California, is the author of 13 books and more than 200 articles. This award adds to his long list of previous awards, both national and international.

On a more personal note, Dr. Nadler has been a mentor/advisor to the Network. For example, early in our existence, it was he who suggested that we develop an Internet web site. He has always been there when we needed advise. Congratulations, Dr. Nadler on a well deserved award.


Dr. Jane Lancaster, a long-time Network member, has written a paper entitled: "Where There's a Will: Gender, Disability and Domesticity in Post War America." She will be presenting this paper at The American Studies Assoc., Albany, NY, during the 1st weekend of November and later at the John Nicholas Brown Center, at Brown Univ., Providence, RI, on December 13th. If you are going to be in either location, it should be an interesting talk.


The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has once again, honored Lillian Gilbreth, this time in their recent publication, Five Decades of The Society of Women Engineers. The beautifully done booklet features history of the organization and prominent members. Included is a wonderful sketch of the work of Dr. Gilbreth. This was in addition to their 50th Anniversary issue, when they included a detailed article on Dr. Gilbreth.

SWE has also done us all a great service by continuing to offer reprints of The Quest of the One Best Way: a Sketch of the Life of Frank Bunker Gilbreth. It is available for $20.00 plus $2.80 shipping. Send your checks to SWE, for $22.80, with your name and address, requesting a copy of this book. You may also want to inquire as to back issues of their Jan.-Feb. 50th Anniversary issue and the Five Decades booklet. You can contact SWE, at:

120 Wall St., 11th Floor,
New York, NY 10005-3902
(212) 509-9577


— from the website The Gilbreth Network Online. Reformatted but unedited. All rights remain with the author and/or publisher.
It can be assumed that all physical and web addresses in this document are obsolete.