02 February 2006

Lillian Moller Gilbreth

We've been having a bit of a fest with Cheaper by the Dozen for the last few days. One of the new Fulbrighters who came into town last week loaned us a DVD of the older version (I've never seen the newer and have no desire to). It's also one of the few books we have on CD, so we've listened to it a lot here.

I finally got curious about the background behind the story. Cheaper by the Dozen focuses a lot on Frank Gilbreth, but I was curious to learn more about how Lillian Gilbreth went on after his death with 12 children and did so many other things too. Just keeping the family together would have been a big job for many widowed parents, but Lillian Gilbreth did so much more than that (see this site, for example).

There's a lot of brief information about her on the internet, but I couldn't find anything particularly comprehensive. A biography about her was published 2 years ago that I'd like to read. She also wrote an autobiography, but it was written over 30 years before she died, so it's far from complete.

The Gilbreth Network, while clearly not updated often, has a lot of information about the entire family and links to more sites (although many are dead).

There are many, many fascinating and admirable women out there that we don't hear about, and Lillian Gilbreth is one of those. She was well educated (her first doctorate was earned after the birth of her seventh child, then she went back and earned more after she was 50). Her family was important to her and she didn't seem to let any obstacle stop her. When engineering firms didn't want a woman consulting them, she didn't quit. Instead, she focused on domestic engineering; for example, invented refrigerator shelves and pedal trash cans. She worked on creating more efficient kitchens and on helping the disabled.

1 comment:

  1. I have loved the movie forever. I found great respect for Lillian from the film and like you have followed her life after the movie. She is a fascinating person adn was such a great role model for women and young girls. I don't think she knew the phrase "I can't".