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Gilbreth, Lillian Moller (1878-1972) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

Name: Gilbreth, Lillian Moller (1878-1972)


Historical Note: Lillian Evelyn Moller was born May 24, 1878 in Oakland, California to William Moller, a successful plumbing business owner, and Annie Delger Moller. The oldest surviving daughter of nine children, Lillian became adept at aiding her often ailing mother in the management of a large well-to-do household. A shy child, Lillian was home-schooled by her mother until she was nine. Once in school, Lillian excelled at her studies and ended up graduating high school with straight As. In 1896, she entered the University of California and became the first woman in the university's history to deliver a commencement address when she graduated in 1900. The following fall, Lillian moved to New York to start her graduate work at Columbia University. An illness forced her to return to California but in 1901 she returned to the University of California and earned a master's degree in literature. In the spring of 1903, Lillian, along with a group of friends, set out for the East Coast to begin a six month tour of Europe. They arrived in Boston and had a few days to sightsee before boarding their ship. One of her friends, Minnie Bunker, introduced Lillian to her cousin, Frank Bunker Gilbreth. Frank, a confirmed bachelor, became infatuated with Lillian and was waiting at the dock when her ship returned. Six months after their first meeting he proposed and on October 19, 1904 Frank and Lillian were married in the living room of her parents home in Oakland, California.
Note Author: Joanne Mendes





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