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Motion Efficiency Study by Frank Gilbreth
  • Motion Efficiency Study, c. 1914
  • Frank Gilbreth
  • Gelatin silver print
  • National Museum of American History, Behring Center, Division of Work and Industry
  • Industry Collection
  • Image No. AFS 167

Frank Gilbreth and his wife, Lillian, employed time-lapse photography to verify their study and philosophy of “work simplification,” the relationship of human effort to the volume of work that the effort accomplishes. This photograph was used by the Gilbreths to study micromotion, which they achieved by attaching a camera to a timing device. They were then able to photograph workers performing various tasks, and they dubbed the essential elements of their subjects’ movements “therbligs” (“Gilbreths” spelled backward). Using such photographs to offer analysis and proof of their effort-versus-efficiency theories, the Gilbreths traveled across the United States, lecturing to engineering and manufacturing audiences.

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