From The Gilbreth Network Online:
The Quest, Volume 5, No. 3, Fall 2001

Compiled by David Ferguson

Newsletter of the Gilbreth Network

Fall 2001

Welcome to the current issue of The Quest, Vol. 5, No. 3, Fall 2001, published in December 2001. The Quest is published quarterly.

The Quest is published by and copyright David Ferguson.

Inside this issue:
The Senseless Horror
Setting the Record Straight
A Wonderful Legacy
Gilbreth Innovation Lives On
New Members
Fatigue Study Now Available as E-Book


Vol. 5, No. 3 Fall 2001

The Senseless Horror

By David Ferguson

Like America and most of the world, I was horrified by the wanton murder of innocents on September 11th. It all still seems like some warped nightmare. Millions of lives have been affected both directly and indirectly. Even the Gilbreths' adopted hometown of Montclair lost 250 people on 9/11.

While we are in new kind of battle, with a new kind of enemy, we can still hold Maj. Frank B. Gilbreth as a sterling example of answering his country's call.When the United States entered the Great War (WWI), Frank Gilbreth was 49; more than double draft age. Despite having a large family to support and a growing business, he felt it was his duty to serve his country as best he could.

Frank Gilbreth was never a man to do something half way and getting accepted into the military was no exception. Since he wasn't considered a prime candidate for military service, he enlisted every person he could, to write letters to Washington, in his behalf. When he was ultimately accepted, he wrote Washington, saying---if you don't know how to best utilize my services, I will tell you.

While not his first choice of duty, he was assigned to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, to assist in making training films for new recruits. Indeed, his methods and new ideas set the standard for educational films for many years to come.

He worked long hours with little rest and as if he hadn't already made enough sacrifices, became deathly ill. Then, in the Gilbreth tradition, of breaking precedents, Lillian Gilbreth stayed by his bedside, in the base hospital, giving him care, he wouldn't have otherwise received, and is likely responsible for saving his life.

Maybe it could be said that Frank should have stayed home, caring for his family. However, in the best traditions of American history, he felt compelled to serve his country in its time of need. It is this character and sense of duty that has made this country strong.

Setting the Record Straight

Setting the Record Straight: The History and Evolution of Women's Professional Achievement in Engineering is a new book by Betty Reynolds, PhD and long-time Gilbreth Network member, Jill Tietjen, P.E. This book covers the little-known stories of women's contribution to engineering.

The book is well organized, and covers a chronological history, as well as short bio's of the women from each era. I found this organization very helpful in seeing the progress of technology and of women's contributions, over the time spans discussed.

From our perspective, at the Gilbreth Network, we are very grateful for the very lucid review of Lillian Gilbreth's work. This review included her partnership with Frank Gilbreth, as well as her work after Frank's death.

Not only is the book very pleasurable reading, but also it is a valuable tool for researchers. It contains extensive footnotes, bibliography and comprehensive index.

You may order a copy for $16.00, post-paid, from: Reynolds-Tietjen LLC, 8547 East Arapahoe Road, PMB J189, Greenwood Village, CO, 80112-1430. Please make checks payable to Reynolds-Tietjen LLC.

A Wonderful Legacy

I received the following letter from Stephan Lindquist, grandson of Lillian (Gilbreth) Johnson, shortly after her death. Stephan has been kind enough to allow us to reprint his letter for The Quest.


As I was surfing the web today I came across your Gilbreth Network site. As a descendant of the Gilbreth clan myself, I read it with great interest and now feel obliged to update you on one sad note.

Lillian Gilbreth Johnson passed away a few months ago, as did her husband Donald. Lillian was my grandmother and her daughter Julie is my mother. Lillian had been in physically poor health during her last year, although her mind and spirit were still as sharp as a tack. When told that her condition was terminal she accepted it graciously and understood that it was now her time, and she passed away in her sleep the next day. She was a very proud and proper lady who had a heart of gold and always put family first. She had some wonderful experiences later in life such as being in attendance at the White House for the wedding of Pres. Herbert Hoover's daughter and being personally invited to attend a dinner in Monaco with Prince Ranier and Princess Grace Kelly. At her funeral and that of my grandfather a month before, I had the chance to meet Jack , Bob, Fred and Dan as they came to pay their respects. It was the first time I had ever had the chance to see them after hearing of them for the past 30 years and when they got out of their cars at the service it was as if they were larger than life. These were names that had been mentioned throughout my life but to finally see them in the flesh was an experience I will never forget. To most people they are just names but to me they are legendary. My grandfather was very close to Lillian's brothers because as young boys they were friends and teammates and when he died this summer Jack said that even though they were only related by marriage, "Don was the best man of all of us". My grandparents were happily married for 66 years and were as much in love the last day as the day they were married.

If this helps with your website then I am glad to have helped and if nothing else, it can simply be personal knowledge. I appreciate the time you have put into researching my family and it is sites like yours that allow me to learn even more about us.

Stephan Lindquist

Gilbreth Innovation Lives On

We have often been asked about the influence the Gilbreths have on our world today. Here are a few examples, both with actual use of Gilbreth inventions/innovations and items/systems that reflect the Gilbreth spirit.

Spooning It Up

One of the things that originally drew me to the Gilbreths was their fertile imagination, for solving problems, with simple, inexpensive solutions. I recently saw a Gilbreth-like example at my local video store.

When a customer was ready to rent his/her videos, they'd sign a receipt for the movies. Half the time, the clerk would have to go searching for a pen, which always seemed to be disappearing into customers' pockets or lost in the counter clutter. The problem was recently solved, in a unique and inexpensive manner.

They bought a box of pens and a box of plastic spoons (you know---the kind you are always given to try and eat rock-hard ice cream). They taped the spoon handle to the end of the pen, with the bowl of the spoon at the top. Not only was the pen easier to find on the counter, but also would be clearly obvious sticking out of an absent-minded customers' pocket.

In a business, which depends of rapid processing of customers, they've saved the time, once lost to fumbling for a pen, let alone the cost of re-stocking lost pens. We also know, from Frank Gilbreth's work on scissors, that the spoon helped to raise the pen, slightly off the work surface, thus, making it easier to pick up. This not only saved a wink or two of time, but required less grip force. The cost----next to nothing----a box of plastic spoons, a little scotch tape and minimal time to make the spoon-pens. Truly, we can say the Gilbreths have been whispering in the ears of these storeowners.

Buy Yourself Some Time

How many times has this happened to you: You're assembling a new gadget you've bought or are doing some home repairs. At a critical step, you drop a screw, nut, bolt or other thingamabob on the ground. Naturally, Murphy's Law says this will occur over an area such as a dirty garage floor, grass or gravel, making it impossible to see the part. You are then placed in the undignified position of getting down on your hands and knees to find the missing part. If this doesn't waste enough of your time, Murphy's Law also states that the part is non-standard and will have to be ordered from the manufacturer.

The solution to this nightmare couldn't be simpler---why didn't someone think of it before. Several manufacturers have started making a devise, which is nothing, more than a round magnet, attached to the end of a 3-foot handle. When you loose a part, all you have to do is move the magnet over the area where it dropped and, "plink" you can hear the errant part attach to the magnet. I can't begin to tell you how much time my stick magnet has already saved me.

In doing some car repairs (over my gravel driveway), I dropped a bolt, but was able to find it in a matter of seconds. The same results were evident in searching the dusty reaches, under my workbench. As an added advantage, this little tool also does a great job of finding tire hazards in a driveway. We recently had some fencing repaired, near our driveway. I walked around the area, with my stick magnet, using it like a metal detector. I found several nails, which would have otherwise (quite naturally) found their way into my tires.

It didn't take a genius to develop this handy item---just an inventive mind. All you need to do is start thinking like the Gilbreths and the ideas should just start flowing.

New Members

Please welcome the newest members of The Gilbreth Network. For those members who have agreed to be available for your questions, we have included their e-mail addresses, which will also be listed on our web site.

Behrooz Asgari is a PhD candidate at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, who is very interested in the Gilbreths' work and can be reached at: [omitted].

Tibebe Belachew is an engineering/industrial consultant, who is also a student, in Industrial Engineering graduate studies, through Addis Abeba University, in Ethiopia. His Gilbreth interests are in Motion Study, Ergonomics and Industrial Safety. If you can offer any assistance, towards his graduate studies or have questions, you can contact him at: [omitted].

Mary Hanvik has joined the Network due to her and her daughter's interest in Lillian Gilbreth, as she puts it, "..the original Super Mom." She also follows in the Gilbreths' interest in teaching science, as she works at the Earl Bakken Science Program, in Minnesota, where her daughter will be attending a class.

Haley Grider is a Research Assistant at Auburn University, who has joined the Network due to his interest in Work Measurement. You can reach him at: [omitted].

William C. Hyer, has been on our mailing list, but has formally joined the Network. He is the Director of Vocational Services, at the Gompers Center For Adults and Children with Disabilities. His main, Gilbreth-related interest is Job Adaptation/Accommodation for People with Disabilities; work very close to the Gilbreths' hearts. You can reach him at: [omitted].

William Milz is an Instructor at Northeast Wisc. Technical College and is interested in Motion Economy, Work Measurement and Fatigue.

W.J. Thomas, Jr. is a Consulting Engineer with Star Industrial Engineering Services. Is interested in the Gilbreths' from the aspects of work measurement and methods improvement and can be reached at: [omitted].

Sandeep H. Wankhade is an Assistant Professor, with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, at S.S.G.M. College of Engineering, in India. His Gilbreth interest is with Motion Study. He can be reached at [omitted].

Fatigue Study Now Available as E-Book

We are proud to announce that the Gilbreths' book, Fatigue Study is now available in electronic/computer format. As with the first book completed, Motion Study, we offer it in two formats.

The book, in a standard text format, is free and available by simply e-mailing a request to The reproduction of the original page order, illustrations and photographs, is, again available in Microsoft Word format, on CD. There is a $7.00 charge ($10.00 outside the US) to cover the cost of the disk and shipping/packaging. No printed (hard copy) format will be available due to time and shipping costs.

However, for those interested in the CD, we will combine Fatigue Study with the previous book, Motion Study for the same price. For those who previously bought Motion Study on a CD, we would be glad to add the new book, but you will have to pay shipping and handling again ($5.50) and we will not re-label the disk.

We have made the new CD easier to use, in that each chapter is now a separate file within the folder containing the book. This makes it quicker to load on your computer.

As I have gained a bit more experience with the scanner and software, I've come to appreciate the quality of the products and wanted to share this information. The Scanner is an Epson Perfection 1200 Photo. It's cost was at the high end of today's scanner market (about $300), but well worth the money, especially when you consider that the first scanners were more than three times as much and a lot harder to use.

The Epson comes with a nice package of software, plus you get to choose supplemental software free (for only shipping charges). The basic version of Corel Photo Paint is well worth the minimal cost. However, the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software included, was a bit too basic to meet our needs for scanning the Gilbreth books.

I would highly recommend Caere's Omni-Page OCR software to anyone interested in good quality and ease of use. While it took a little time to get into a rhythm of scanning pages, once you get going, it's easy. It does take some proofreading, before downloading to your word processor, but you will still find some errors when you go to read the text. However, these averaged less than two errors per page.

This program is under $100, but has some extra value for your money. In addition to converting scanned pages to word processing, the program also can "read" the text to you in a computer voice. No, this won't replace a good audio book, but, opens all sorts of possibilities for the visually impaired.


— 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.