Lillian Moller Gilbreth
Name: Lillian Moller Gilbreth
Occupation: Engineer
Gender: Female
Birth Day: May 24, 1878
Death Date: Jan 2, 1972 (age 93)
Age: Aged 93
Country: United States
Zodiac Sign: Gemini

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Lillian Moller Gilbreth

Lillian Moller Gilbreth was born on May 24, 1878 in United States (93 years old). Lillian Moller Gilbreth is an Engineer, zodiac sign: Gemini. Nationality: United States. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed.


The books Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes were written by her children and detail their family life and how they applied their study to their family's daily life.

Net Worth 2020

Find out more about Lillian Moller Gilbreth net worth here.

Does Lillian Moller Gilbreth Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Lillian Moller Gilbreth died on Jan 2, 1972 (age 93).


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Before Fame

She got her Ph.D in industrial psychology from Brown University in 1915, becoming one of the first female engineers to do so.


Biography Timeline


Lillie Evelyn Moller was born in Oakland, California, on May 24, 1878, to Annie (Delger) and William Moller, a builder's supply merchant. She was their second child and the eldest of the family's nine surviving children. Their first child, Anna Adelaide, had died at age four months. Her parents, of German ancestry, were well to-do. Educated at home until the age of nine, Moller began formal schooling in the first grade at a public elementary school and was rapidly promoted through the grade levels. She was elected vice president of her senior class at Oakland High School and graduated with exemplary grades in May 1896.


Although Moller wanted to go to college, her father was opposed to such education for his daughters. So she did not take all the required college preparatory courses in high school. She did persuade her father to let her try college for a year and was admitted to the University of California on condition she take the missing Latin course in her first semester. In August 1896 Moller was one of 300 entering students. The University of California at that time was housed in four buildings in the hills above the little town of Berkeley. It charged no tuition for California residents and was underfunded. Classes were large and many were held in tents. There were no dormitories; men lived in nearby boarding houses and women commuted from home.


Moller did well enough during her first year, coming in near the top of her class, that her father agreed to her continuing her education. She commuted from home on the streetcar, and in the evenings helped her mother with the household and her siblings with their homework. She majored in English, also studying philosophy and psychology, and had enough education courses to earn a teaching certificate. She also won a prize for poetry and acted in student plays. In the spring of her senior year the new university president, Benjamin Ide Wheeler, asked her to be one of the student speakers at the commencement ceremonies. On May 16, 1900, she graduated from the university and became the first woman to speak at a University of California commencement. The title of her speech was "Life: A Means or an End".


Moller had begun to think of a professional career rather than staying at home after graduation. She now wished to be called Lillian, a more dignified name for a university graduate she felt, and left home to enroll in graduate school at Columbia University in New York City. Her literature professor Charles Gayley had suggested she study there with Brander Matthews. Graduate enrollment at Columbia was almost half women at the time, but Matthews would not allow them in his classes. Instead, she studied literature with George Edward Woodberry. A lasting influence was her study with the psychologist Edward Thorndike, newly appointed at Columbia. Though she became ill with pleurisy and was brought home by her father, she continued to refer to him in her later work. Back in California, she returned to the University of California in August 1901 to work toward a master's degree in literature. Under the supervision of Gayley, she wrote a thesis on Ben Jonson's play Bartholomew Fair, and received her master's degree in the spring of 1902.


Lillian Moller met Frank Bunker Gilbreth in June 1903 in Boston, Massachusetts, en route to Europe with her chaperone, who was Frank's cousin. He had apprenticed in several building trades in the East and established a contracting business with offices in Boston, New York, and London.


Moller began studies for a Ph.D. at the University of California, but took time off to travel through Europe in the spring of 1903. Following her marriage to Frank Bunker Gilbreth in 1904 and relocation to New York, she completed a dissertation for a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1911, but was not awarded the degree due to her noncompliance with residency requirements for doctoral candidates. The dissertation was published as The Psychology of Management: The Function of the Mind in Determining, Teaching and Installing Methods of Least Waste in 1914.

The couple married on October 19, 1904, in Oakland, California, and settled in New York. They later moved to Providence, Rhode Island, and eventually relocated their family to Montclair, New Jersey. After Frank unexpectedly died of a heart attack on June 14, 1924, Lillian never remarried.


As planned, the Gilbreths became the parents of a large family that included twelve children. One died young in 1912; one was still-born in 1915; and eleven of them lived to adulthood, including Ernestine Gilbreth, Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr., and Robert Moller Gilbreth.


After the Gilbreths relocated their family to Providence, Rhode Island, Lillian enrolled at Brown University. She earned a Ph.D. in applied psychology in 1915, which made her the first of the pioneers of industrial management to have a doctorate. The topic of her dissertation was efficient teaching methods and titled Some Aspects of Eliminating Waste in Teaching.


Gilbreth and her husband were equal partners in the engineering and management consulting firm of Gilbreth, Incorporated. She continued to lead the company for decades after his death in 1924. The Gilbreths, both pioneers in scientific management, were especially adept at performing time-and-motion studies. They named their methodology the Gilbreth System and used the slogan, "The One Best Way to Do Work," to promote it. The Gilbreths also developed a new technique for their studies that used a motion-picture camera to record work processes. These filmed observations enabled the Gilbreths to redesign machinery to better suit workers' movements to improve efficiency and reduce fatigue. Their research on fatigue study was a forerunner to ergonomics. In addition, the Gilbreths applied a human approach to scientific management to develop innovations in workplace efficiency, such as improved lighting and regular breaks, as well as ideas for workplace psychological well-being, such as suggestion boxes and free books.

Gilbreth collaborated with her husband until his death in 1924. Afterwards, she continued to research, write, and teach, in addition to consulting with businesses and manufacturers. She also participated in professional organizations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers until her own death nearly fifty years later in 1972. In addition, Gilbreth turned her attention to the home, despite her aversion to housework and the fact that she had long employed full-time household help. Her children once described her kitchen as a "model of inefficiency."

While residing in Providence, Rhode Island, Gilbreth and her husband taught free, two-week-long summer schools in scientific management from 1913 to 1916. The Gilbreths also discussed teaching the Gilbreth System of time-and-motion study to members of industry, but it was not until after her husband's death in 1924 that she created a formal motion-study course. Gilbreth presented this idea at the First Prague International Management Congress in Prague on July 1924. Her first course began in January 1925. Gilbreth's classes offered to "prepare a member of an organization, who has adequate training both in scientific method and in plant problems, to take charge of Motion Study work in that organization." Coursework included laboratory projects and field trips to private firms to witness the application of scientific management. She ran a total of seven motion study courses out of her home in Montclair, New Jersey until 1930.


To earn additional income to support her large family, Gilbreth delivered numerous addresses to business and industry gatherings, as well as on college and university campuses such as Harvard, Yale, Colgate, the University of Michigan, MIT, Stanford, and Purdue University. In 1925 she succeeded her husband as a visiting lecturer at Purdue, where he had been delivering annual lectures. In 1935 she became a professor of management at Purdue's School of Mechanical Engineering, and the country's first female engineering professor. She was promoted to a full professor at Purdue in 1940. Gilbreth divided her time between Purdue's departments of industrial engineering, industrial psychology, home economics, and the dean's office, where she consulted on careers for women. In cooperation with Marvin Mundel, Gilbreth established and supervised a time-and-motion-study laboratory at Purdue's School of Industrial Engineering. She also demonstrated how time-and-motion studies could be used in agricultural studies and later transferred motion-study techniques to the home economics department under the banner of "work simplification". Gilbreth retired from Purdue's faculty in 1948.


In 1926, when Johnson & Johnson hired her as a consultant to do marketing research on sanitary napkins, Gilbreth and the firm benefited in three ways. First, Johnson & Johnson could use her training as a psychologist in the measurement and analysis of attitudes and opinions. Second, it could give her experience as an engineer specializing in the interaction between bodies and material objects. Third, her public image as a mother and a modern career woman could help the firm build consumer trust in its products. In addition to her work with Johnson & Johnson, Gilbreth was instrumental in the design of a desk in cooperation with IBM for display at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933


Gilbreth continued her private consulting practice while serving as a volunteer and an adviser to several government agencies and nonprofit groups. In 1927 she became a charter member of the Altrusa Club of New York City, an organization for Professional and Business Women started in 1917 for the purpose of providing community service Gilbreth's government work began as a result of her longtime friendship with Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou Henry Hoover, both of whom she had known in California; (Gilbreth had presided over the Women's Branch of the Engineers' Hoover for President campaign.)


In addition, Gilbreth was instrumental in the development of the modern kitchen, creating the "work triangle" and linear-kitchen layouts that are often used today. In the late 1920s, she collaborated with Mary E. Dillon, President of Brooklyn Borough Gas Company on the creation of an efficient kitchen, equipped with gas powered appliances and named the Kitchen Practical. Inspired by Dillon's criticisms of her own kitchen, it was designed on three principles: the correct and uniform height of working surfaces; a circular work place; and a general “circular routing of working”, all carefully analyised to reduce the time and effort required in the preparation of meals. It was unveiled in 1929 at a Women’s Exposition.

Lou Hoover urged Gilbreth to join the Girl Scouts as a consultant in 1929. She remained active in the organization for more than twenty years, becoming a member of its board of directors. During the Great Depression President Hoover appointed Gilbreth to the Organization on Unemployment Relief as head of the "Share the Work" program. In 1930, under the Hoover administration, she headed the women's section of the President's Emergency Committee for Employment and helped to gain the cooperation of women's groups for reducing unemployment. During World War II Gilbreth continued advising governmental groups and also provided expertise on education and labor issues (especially women in the workforce) for organizations such as the War Manpower Commission, the Office of War Information, and the U.S. Navy. In her later years, Gilbreth served on the Chemical Warfare Board and on Harry Truman's Civil Defense Advisory Council. During the Korean War she served on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.


After Gilbreth's retirement from Purdue, she continued to travel and deliver lectures. She also taught at several other colleges and universities, and became head of the Newark College of Engineering in 1941. Gilbreth was appointed the Knapp Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin's School of Engineering in 1955. She also taught at Bryn Mawr College and Rutgers University. In 1964, at the age of eighty-six, Gilbreth became resident lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1968, when her health finally began to fail, Gilbreth retired from her active public life and eventually entered a nursing home.


Gilbreth also made contributions on behalf of women. Her pioneering work in industrial engineering influenced women in the field. In addition to her lectures on various engineering topics, she encouraged women to study industrial engineering and management. Purdue awarded its first Ph.D. in engineering to a woman in 1950, two years after Gilbreth retired from the university.

Two of the Gilbreth children also paid tribute to their mother in books about their family life. Cheaper by the Dozen (1948), a bestseller by Gilbreth's son, Frank Jr., and daughter, Ernestine, was made into a motion picture in 1950 starring Myrna Loy as Lillian and Clifton Webb as Frank. The book's sequel, Belles on Their Toes (1950), also written by Frank Jr. and Ernestine, was made into a motion picture sequel in 1952. Frank Jr. also paid tribute to his mother in Time Out for Happiness (1972).


Gilbreth died of a stroke on January 2, 1972, in Phoenix, Arizona at the age of ninety-three. Her ashes were scattered at sea.


Several engineering awards have been named in Gilbreth's honor. The National Academy of Engineering established the Lillian M. Gilbreth Lectureships in 2001 to recognize outstanding young American engineers. The highest honor bestowed by the Institute of Industrial Engineers is the Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Industrial Engineering Award for "those who have distinguished themselves through contributions to the welfare of mankind in the field of industrial engineering". The Lillian M. Gilbreth Distinguished Professor award at Purdue University is bestowed on a member of the industrial engineering department. The Society of Women Engineers awards the Lillian Moller Gilbreth Memorial Scholarship to female engineering undergraduates.


In 2018, the College of Engineering at Purdue University established the prestigious Lillian Gilbreth Postdoctoral Fellowship Program to attract and prepare outstanding individuals with recently awarded PhDs for a career in engineering academia through interdisciplinary research, training, and professional development.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Lillian Moller Gilbreth is 144 years, 6 months and 9 days old. Lillian Moller Gilbreth will celebrate 145th birthday on a Wednesday 24th of May 2023.

Find out about Lillian Moller Gilbreth birthday activities in timeline view here.

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