Lillian Moller Gilbreth


Lillian Moller Gilbreth : biography

May 24, 1878 – January 2, 1972

The children of Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth were:

  • Anne M. Gilbreth (September 9, 1905 – February 16, 1987) (age 81); married Robert E. Barney; three children (Peter, Frank, Robert).
  • Mary Elizabeth Gilbreth (December 13, 1906 – January 31, 1912); died of diphtheria at age 5.
  • Ernestine Gilbreth (April 4, 1908 – November 4, 2006) (age 98); married Charles E. Carey; two children (Charles E. Carey, Lillian Barley).
  • Martha B. Gilbreth (November 5, 1909 – November 15, 1968) (age 59); married Richard E. Tallman; four children (Janet, Blair, Mary, Stephanie).
  • Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. (March 27, 1911 – February 18, 2001) (age 89); married 1): Elizabeth Cauthen (1934–1954) (her death) 2): Mary Pringle Manigault (1955–2001) (his death); three children (one from first marriage: Betsy; two from second marriage: Rebecca, Dr. Edward Gilbreth).
  • William Gilbreth (December 18, 1912 – April 14, 1990) (age 77); married Jean Irvin; two children (Lillian, Bill Gilbreth).
  • Lillian M. Gilbreth jr. (June 17, 1914 – June 23, 2001) (age 87); married Donald Dodge Johnson; two children (Julia, Dodge).
  • Frederick M. Gilbreth (December 8, 1916; still living); married Jessie Blair Tallman; three children (Susan Kaseler, Frank Gilbreth, John Gilbreth).
  • Daniel Bunker Gilbreth (September 17, 1917 – June 13, 2006) (age 88); married Irene Jensen; three children (David Gilbreth, Danny Gilbreth, Peggy).
  • John M. Gilbreth (May 29, 1919 – December 25, 2002) (age 83); married Dorothy Girvan; three children (Peter Gilbreth, James Gilbreth, Deborah).
  • Robert Moller Gilbreth (July 4, 1920 – July 24, 2007) (age 87); married Barbara Filer; two children (Ann Gilbreth Wilson, Roy D. Gilbreth)
  • Jane Moller Gilbreth (June 22, 1922 – January 10, 2006) (age 83); married George Paul Heppes; two children (Laurie, Paula).



In 1984, the United States Postal Service issued a 40¢ Great Americans series postage stamp in Gilbreth’s honor, and she was lauded by the American Psychological Association as the first psychologist to be so commemorated. (Psychologists Gary Brucato Jr. and John D. Hogan later questioned this claim, noting that John Dewey had appeared on an American stamp in 1968 (17 years earlier). However, they also emphasized that Gilbreth was the first female psychologist to be so honored.) A comprehensive international list of psychologists on stamps (compiled by psychology historian Ludy T. Benjamin) indicates that Gilbreth was only the second female psychologist commemorated by a postage stamp in all the world, preceded only by Maria Montessori in India in 1970.

Multiple engineering awards have been named in her honor. The Lilian M. Gilbreth Lectureships were established in 2001 by the National Academy of Engineering, to recognize outstanding young American engineers, while 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". At Purdue University, the Lilian M. Gilbreth Distinguished Professor is an honor bestowed on a member of the industrial engineering department. Additionally, the Society of Women Engineers awards the Lillian Moller Gilbreth Memorial Scholarship to deserving female engineering undergraduates.

Lillian and husband Frank have a permanent collection in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and her portrait hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. Their papers are housed in The Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Library of Management at Purdue University.

In 1941, Dr. Gilbreth was made an honorary member of Mortar Board by the Purdue University chapter of the esteemed national honor society.

Awards and achievements

During her career, Gilbreth received numerous awards and honors, including 23 honorary degrees from such schools as Princeton University, Brown University, and the University of Michigan. She was named 1954 Alumna of the Year by the University of California’s alumni association. She was accepted to the membership of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1926, becoming its second female member; the society later awarded both her and her husband (posthumously) the Henry Laurence Gantt Medal in 1944 for her contributions to industrial engineering.Graham 1998, p. 105. In 1950, she was the first honorary member of the newly-created Society of Women Engineers.