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Making Time: Lillian Moller Gilbreth -- A Life Beyond "Cheaper by the Dozen" Hardcover – April 13, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Few people are so emblematic of the social revolutions of the 20th century as the subject of this engaging biography. Admired by both Herbert Hoover and Lenin, Lillian Moller Gilbreth was a psychologist and engineer who, along with husband Frank, put a human face on the scientific management movement by emphasizing congenial work environments, ergonomic equipment and production processes, and training and incentive schemes that elicited employee participation in the drive for business productivity. She was equally influential, in both her professional and personal lives, in spreading the cult of managerial efficiency to the intimate sphere of home and child rearing. The mother of 12 children (immortalized in the classic Cheaper by the Dozen), the perpetually pregnant engineer demonstrated that, with the Taylorite organizational methods she pioneered on the factory floor (and the assistance of live-in relatives and paid help), women could combine career, marriage and family on an epic scale. Historian Lancaster (Inquire Within) has penned an absorbing, psychologically acute biography that links Gilbreth’s career and embrace of "the strenuous life" with the Progressive Era’s conflicted ideas about gender and the rise of the "New Woman." While she cultivated her Victorian domestic goddess side to ease the anxieties of a sexist business establishment, Gilbreth’s work, and example, subtly challenged women’s traditional roles even as it restated them in a scientific idiom. Bridging the contradictory roles of doting housewife, multi-tasking supermom, feminist trendsetter and industrial stateswoman, her life makes for a fascinating study in the transition to modernity. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Immortalized as the unflappable wife and mother by the book and the original film version of Cheaper by the Dozen, the real Lillian Moller Gilbreth has been short-changed by her charming, but one-dimensional, legend. An engineer, a management consultant, a professor, a government advisor, and a pioneer in the innovative field of time and motion studies, Gilbreth was much more than a mere shadow of her celebrated husband. The working mother of 11 children--one died of diphtheria--she artfully juggled her responsibilities as a career woman and as a mother decades before it became acceptable or fashionable to do so. Continuing to work until her death at age 90, she made immeasurable contributions to both industrial and household management. Through it all, she managed the seemingly impossible, successfully interweaving and integrating her public and private personas into an inspiring model of efficiency and efficacy. Long overlooked by both historians and feminists, Gilbreth's amazing story should be required reading for contemporary women struggling to achieve balance in their hectic lives. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Northeastern (April 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555536123
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555536121
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Prof Dr Sandor Vajna on August 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The work of the Gilbreth couple has been influencing the way people work both in industry and at home since the beginning of the last century; and this influence has been quite underestimated, mainly because of the lasting succes of the books "Cheaper By the Dozen" and "Belles on Their Toes". The time has come to write a both thorough and neutral review on this work and to show the driving forces behind it. I am very pleased to say that Jane Lancaster with her book "Making Time" wrote this perfect review, which is carefully researched from the scientific point of view and very well written for the reader's pleasure.

Ms Lancaster delivers several things: (1) A precise and complete description of the life of both Gilbreths (which of course is mostly the life of Lillian M. Gilbreth, because she survived her husband by almost 50 years). (2) A neutral evaluation of this work, where she points out that most of Gilbreth's work was outlined and carried out by Lillian M. Gilbreth, although Ms Gilbreth kept herself in the background during the life of her husband. (3) The creation of a well-deserved attention for the work of Ms Gilbreth beyond her (not neglectable at all!) role of a mother of 13.

Having dealt with the work of the Gilbreth couple for more than 20 years, I highly recommend Jane Lancaster's book both for reading pleasure and for scientific work. "Making Time", in my opinion, sets the standards for the research on the work of the Gilbreth.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lillian Moller Gilbreth is well remembered today as the patient mother of "Cheaper by the Dozen". This book makes it clear that this was the least of her attributes.
Dr. Gilbreth spent over a half century as one of America's leading engineers. First colloborating with her husband, Frank Gilbreth, she spent the first forty years of her widowhood on an intense schedule of conferences, consulting, and teaching, finally retiring near her ninetieth birthday.
While the primary focus of this book is on Dr. Gilbreth and her engineering career, and the conculsion makes clear author Jane Lancaster's bitterness that Dr. Gilbreth is best remembered for the fictionalized mother of "Cheaper by the Dozen", fans of the book will find material to satisfy them. Several chapters deal with the family's life. Few of the many footnotes are simply to "Cheaper" or its sequel, "Belles on their Toes"--appropriate, as a later chapter deals with how "Cheaper" came to be, and that it was written not as non-fiction, but rather as things should have been. For example, the episode in "Cheaper" where Dr. Gilbreth spent a day in bed, and the children were convinced that a new baby was due, having associated Mother's brief bedstays with childbirth, was based on Dr. Gilbreth giving birth to a stillborn, thirteenth child.
Jane Lancaster gives life to this pioneering woman engineer, unfortunately typecast by her children's books. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
"This is funny, you might like it."

That suggestion from a long-ago English teacher introduced me to a book called "Cheaper By The Dozen," which in turn kicked off a lengthy fascination with the Gilbreth family and their other books. Along the way, I got a taste of the fact that Lillian Moller Gilbreth was among the more important women of her generation, up there with Marie Curie and Eleanor Roosevelt. But, as other Gilbreth-philes surely know, her children's writings only hinted at that importance, concentrating instead on her role as the family matriarch. This, the first full-length biography not written by a family member, is therefore a welcome addition to the already sizeable collection of books about the Gilbreths.

Jane Lancaster's research is very impressive, as is her ability to overcome the surviving Gilbreth children's noted concern for their privacy. Through over a century's worth of private letters and papers, she provides a surprisingly vivid look at the family you thought you knew as a kid. More importantly, she provides a well-rounded look at Lillian Gilbreth, who even in early life was not nearly the demure introvert so often portrayed elsewhere.

Though very much a product of her 19th century upper crust California childhood, she was quite independent minded from the beginning, as reflected in her decision to go to college, get married and move East while most of her siblings never left home. A lifelong Republican and a close friend of Herbert Hoover, she was nonetheless an early and effective advocate of workplace safety regulations, paid breaks, eight-hour workdays and, of course, women's right to work outside the home.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished the book. Lillian led an exhausting life of lecturing, travel and endless writing. As the mother of 13 children, she puts us all to shame (with many fewer children)because of her unbelievable work schedule. This book does a great job of paying tribute to her life's work which is clearly well-documented.

Although she did not promote herself as an activist for Women's Rights, Lillian Gilbreth took giant steps for all women because of her dedication to her family, husband, and her monumental career.

Jane Lancaster has a beautiful command of the English language. This book is well-written without being intimidating. I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in juggling family and/or career.
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