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Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation

Nicholas Sammond, Author

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Performance, Page 40

Animation arrived in a historical moment in which industrial rationalization was rapidly displacing craft systems of labor. The "stopwatch studies" of F.W. Taylor and the time-and-motion studies of Lillian and Frank Gilbreth were premised on the notion that efficiency was key to increased productivity, health, and the happiness of workers. Workers, who lost some autonomy as a result of these regimes, sometimes resisted. This resistance occurred as part of a broader set of struggles between labor, capital, and an emerging managerial class in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

In the biographical novel published in 1948, Cheaper by the Dozen tells the story of the Gilbreths, who ran their family as they would a factory, seeking the "one best way" for every domestic task. The film adaptation, released in 1950 and starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy, depicted these unorthodox teaching methods as whimsical, with Frank and Lillian using their children as the guinea pigs for motion and efficiency studies. 
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