Cheaper By the Dozen was my favorite book when I was growing up. I re-read it many times. Being an only child, this family of twelve children was magical to me and Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr., born on March 17, 1911, was a very funny writer.
He was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, one of the children of Frank and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, two of America’s most famous engineers. Frank Gilbreth, the father, is credited with being the father of motion study, the study of the relationship between human beings and human effort. They orginated micro-motion study, a breakdown of work into fundamental elements now called therbligs, which is Gilbreth spelled backwards. These elements were studied by means of a motion-picture camera and a timing device which indicated the time intervals on the film as it was exposed. The couple was married in 1904, and Gilbreth, Sr., died in 1924. His wife carried on their work, concentrating particularly on household tasks. Today, their science is known more readily as “work simplification.”
Frank, Jr. graduated from the University of Michigan, served in World War II, and became a columnist and reporter for the Charleston Post and Courier in South Carolina. He also wrote a dozen books, including the stories about his family which he co-authored with his sister Ernestine: Cheaper by the Dozen, Belles on Their Toes, and Time Out for Happiness. Reading the books is a much funnier experience than the recent movie of the same name, which bears little resemblance to the real story.
Frank, Jr., died in February, 2001.