Our History

Basket weaving with a patient (1922)

In the 1910s, health professionals embraced the idea that engaging a patient’s mind and body encouraged convalescence. This led to the development of occupational therapy as a recognized health profession. The earliest phase of development was prompted by the tradition of women’s altruistic work with deprived or dependent populations and as arts and crafts enthusiasts. In the pre-war period, women took domestic activities such as cloth production and basket weaving to institutional settings such as tuberculosis and children’s hospitals.

During the First World War, reconstruction aides became invaluable members of the war effort, working in military hospitals both abroad and at home. The demand for workers to aid in the rehabilitation of soldiers physically and mentally disabled by the war prompted the founding of schools to train women in the skills and perspectives of both occupational and physical therapy (Becker archives exhibits).

Please click on the decades on the left to learn about the Program in Occupational Therapy’s history.