Is there a way to tell from the front? I’m recording. OK. Why don’t we start this off by watching a movie trailer? T-minus: 12. 11. OK, actually first let’s introduce who we are — OK. — and what we’re doing. My name is Phil Edwards. I’m Coleman Lowndes. What we’re doing here is kind of a pilot in which we take various topics from history and we talk about them. We’re thinking about calling it History Club? It’s like a pilot. Mmmhmm. It’s the same way like “Friends” has a pilot, this is a pilot. Yeah. If it gets picked up, we’re gonna be like, you know, pretty much like the Friends.
Yeah. Or the American Pickers guys. Yeah! OK, so the other thing we should explain is that you do not know what we’re talking about today. Right. Is that correct? That is correct. So this is not fake, you actually don’t know. I don’t know. 3. 2. 1. Liftoff. I feel like Steve Martin should get this pulled off the internet somehow. He should. He should be embarrassed. Has this guy never watched his kids by himself before? Cheaper by the Dozen: a supersized comedy. I feel like you’re gonna tell me it’s based on a real story. Yes, it is based on a true story. They should make a version of this movie that’s, like, Oscar bait, because the real story is legitimately like…just… So the real family is Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. And they married in, like, 1904. There were actually 13 children — one of them died stillborn and one of them died at 5. They were a very unique and interesting family where their personal lives intertwined with the impact that they had on manufacturing. Frank Gilbreth — he got his start as a construction manager.
He would figure out ways to make bricklaying more efficient. One of his breakthroughs, for example, was he wanted to build a scaffold. When you were putting up these bricks, instead of bending all the way to the ground, you could just reach to the scaffold and put up a brick. Lillian Gilbreth was very much his equal partner. She had a psychology background. She brought this, like, very academic, psychological training to this management system that they developed. This is like early 1900s they’re around. They were acolytes of this guy called Frederick Taylor. Have you ever heard of, like, Taylorism? For some reason it’s been coming up a lot in searches for Darkroom that I’ve been doing. Once the industrial revolution happens, there’s basically a bunch of experts who try to tackle different ways to make workers more efficient.
And Taylor was sort of the leading proponent of one philosophy that was called time management. Basically, he got famous for kind of looking at factory lines or at industrial processes with a stopwatch and being like, you can do this ten seconds more efficiently if you hustle a little more, and dividing the workers into tasks that he thought they were appropriate for. So he would say some stuff that would be viewed as kind of offensive today, he would say, like, “You’re a dumb guy, you should be doing dumb guy stuff.” It kind of felt like he didn’t care about the workers at all. But they were sorta like: “The workers need to be a partner in this.” So there were still critics of what they did but they wanted to make it more efficient with the workers in mind. Like, reducing fatigue, stuff like that. They did this in really neat ways.
They kind of did the high-tech version of studying this stuff. Can you see on his finger here? What that is — that’s a little ring that is connected — it’s a light — they exposed it so that you could see the path of the ring while he was hammering. And then they would kind of look at that motion and study it. This is exactly the story I’m working on for Darkroom. What is yours about? Marey — this French physiologist who was studying motion and diagramming motion. So what he would do is have a guy walk across a white wall and then expose it multiple times and then on a single plate you have this guy walking. When film came out, he swapped the plate for a rolling piece of film so, same principle, guy’s walking, shutter’s going like this, except instead of one single plate it’s each in an individual frame. See, that makes a lot of sense, cause like my first video that I did on my own here was about Eadweard Muybridge. Same thing, you know. But Muybridge was different because he was using multiple cameras strung with trip wire, and Marey figured out how to do it all with a single camera.
OK, OK. So, like, Muybridge was combining that stuff later. But yeah they were doing the same thing, chronophotography, the same idea of studying movement, you know, answering questions like Muybridge did the horse galloping. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It’s a sort of breakthrough that’s hard for us to register because we’re like so used to seeing motion, but I think around this time and even through the 1910s, people were kinda like, “Whoa, we suddenly have the ability to see movement.” They would actually bend wire to make original models of the path that they’d recorded in the photograph. So they’d make these little motion sculptures out of it that showed the exact path that somebody’d made when they were doing a motion. They developed their own symbolic language to record various movements called Therbligs — which is their name backwards with a couple of the characters transposed. You know, it’d be like, somebody reaches and then grasps for something and then searches for something.
It would be like three symbols in a row. And that would be three Therbligs that you’d use. They sound like a mix of Wes Anderson and Kurt Vonnegut. Yeah. You could imagine, like, them trying to get that guy, like how he’s handing off left hand to right, like, you could do that more seamlessly just by reviewing the footage. And this is an important one. They actually went into surgery. Oh my God. And they filmed it and then they studied what was going on for motion studies. At the time, where the surgeons would put their operating tools and stuff like that was relatively disorganized. And so the Gilbreths came in and they said, you should have these operating tools in the exact same place every time, so that a surgeon can easily find it. And that happened. And that’s like a huge timesaver in a very time-intensive field. And they also — I believe they also recommended that people have an assistant around so basically, like, you know when the surgeon is like, “Scalpel.
” And the nurse says, “scalpel.” “Nurse, retractor.” That is probably partly due to the Gilbreths. And so Lillian Gilbreth was kinda shy, she actually says in the voiceover for some copies of these videos, she says: OK, so, Frank Gilbreth’s famous quote, he said, “The home is a plant whose product is happiness minutes.” Isn’t that heartwarming? That sounds like a very Frank thing to say though. So their business is going great, right? They’ve got all this success. Oh no. And they’ve got all these kids, and then in 1924, Frank Gilbreth, he goes to make a phone call. And he dies. Needless to say, Steve Martin does not die — Yeah — In Cheaper by the Dozen. How did he die? His heart. Was he young, was this a pretty sudden thing? He was 55.
OK. Lillian is meanwhile faced with the very stark reality of raising 11 kids on her own and paying for that, and so she suddenly has to pivot from being this partner who’s kind of marginalized with Frank to suddenly being the sole breadwinner for the house. Wow! The easiest way for her to do that was to go from being an efficiency expert who works with companies to being one who is an expert on the home, which is an unusual thing for her, because she was actually quoted as saying she did not really like housework. She just didn’t care about this stuff, but that was the easiest way for her to pivot, and she brought these principles of motion study and time management into the house. She ended up getting hired to write and then she ended up appearing on the radio too, and the family is connected because that was one of her hooks. That totally makes sense, I mean, if she could handle 12 with these — tools — you’re gonna make, that’s makin’ having three kids easy.
And so she did it in a cool way too, like, one of the things that she advised homemakers to do was to do their own efficiency studies. And I actually replicated one of these, I simulated my oatmeal making routine. She actually advised that they have a little kid follow them around with a ball of yarn as they did household tasks and then let it unspool as they did the task to show the motion that they were wasting on these common tasks in the house. Um, and this is actually helpful. I’m really inefficient in how I make my oatmeal. Well, putting on the robe first definitely slows you down. Yeah. Their big thing was they would measure steps. So they would be like, “I can stop you from traveling 27 miles a year and make it so you only travel 9 miles a year.” She also designed a special kitchen that had, like, a rolling counter in the center. That was a big innovation.
And after a while, her plan worked. She became an expert and she became a celebrity. She stopped having to only do these homemaking and domestic expertise stuff. She consulted presidents on Presidential plans for work employment. She’s now called the mother of Industrial Engineering. Wow. And I have one thing I want to show you. Uh. Can you do me a favor here? Can you close your eyes and close your ears, because I want to say something to the audience first? OK. OK. Coleman made a video about Amelia Earhart and he’s obsessed with her. She’s the only person who matters in his life, and she hung out with Lillian Gilbreth. So I’m gonna show him this picture. Amelia?! Damn, I’m seething with envy right now. And then the people presenting her this award are a bunch of people including Lillian Gilbreth. I think her story is so cool that you almost forget that we live in the world that they created. We live in this world that thinks of our home lives and our daily lives as efficiency projects. And in the past that would have been relegated to just manufacturing or building stuff, but now we’re all trying to make our lives more efficient in all these different ways.
So I think we kind of live in their world in a way? It’s stunning to me that they had such an impact through their story and through the family, too. This family pushed that into the mainstream. Should they have a secret word or something they can put in the comments, like, some sort of signal to know that they want more? The comment of this video? Just comment, Mona, who’s our boss, just say, Mona let Coleman and Phil keep making these. Hashtag. #PleaseMona. Yeah. #PleaseMona. Alright..