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Recreational therapy- 1880s to 1939

complied by Jeffrey A. Mansfield

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[ archives page | timeline index: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | compilation | bibliography | transcript | pictures ]

1880s The settlement house concept begins in England

1889 Hull House, Chicago, IL, founded by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, provides community services and recreation to the poor.

1892 Dr. Adolf Meyer, a psychiatrist, reported that "the proper use of time in some helpful and gratifying activity appeared to be a fundamental issue in the treatment of the neuropsychiatric patient." He is known for the concept of psychobiology.

1895 William Rush Dunton, Jr., "Father of Occupational Therapy," staff psychiatrist at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Asylum in Baltimore (SEPA). He fitted a metalworking shop for the treatment of patients. He went on to become editor of "Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation," and an instructor in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, and a President of the AOTA.

1895 Mary Potter Brooks Meyer, (Meyer's wife), a social worker, introduced a systematic type of activity into the wards of a state institution in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was also the first social worker to provide a systematic program to help patients, their families, and the physician.

1903 Dr. Lawrason Brown used occupation therapy to "harden" tuberculosis patients at Trudeau Sanatorium.

1904 Dr. Herbert J. Hall began to prescribe occupation for his patients as medicine to regulate life and direct interest. He called this the "work cure."

1905 Susan E. Tracy, considered the first Occupational Therapist, noticed in her training as a nurse the benefits of occupation in relieving nervous tension and making bedrest more tolerable for patients. Tracy believed that wholesome interests could be substituted for morbid ones and could carry over into the patient's life after discharge from the hospital.

1906 National Recreation Association founded

1906 Hall received a $1,000 grant from Harvard to "assist in the study of the treatment of neurasthenia by progressive and graded manual occupation." He established a workshop in Marblehead, MA, where he used, as a treatment, the crafts of handweaving, woodcarving, metalwork, and pottery "because of their universal appeal and the normalizing effect of suitable manual work."

1906 Tracy, as director of the Training School for Nurses at the Adams Nervine Asylum in Boston, developed the first systematic training course in occupation to prepare instructors for teaching patient activities. She also cautioned that a variety in activity choices must be great in order to meet individual patient requirements.

1908 A. M. Forster opened Eudwood Farm in Towson, MD. The International Congress on TB awarded him their Gold Medal for progressive treatment of tuberculosis patients using activity therapy. He based his work on American philosopher William James' "Tough Minded" concept.

1908 Dunton adds other crafts, and an instructor is engaged to teach patients at SEPA.

1908 Hall began a "work as treatment" training program for young women at Devereaux Mansion in Marblehead, MA,

1908 Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy is established at Hull House. Graham Taylor was director of the school, that among others, had classes in occupations and amusements for attendants in public hospitals for the insane. Jane Addams, the director of Hull House, along with Julia Lathrop and Taylor, influenced the development of a number of courses to meet the needs of the community. Attendants learned games, arts, crafts, and hobbies which they could use to "reach" their patients. Dr. Adolf Meyer (a psychiatrist at Kankakee State Hospital) worked with Addams and Lathrop and supported their work for the improvement of the care of the mentally ill in state hospitals in Illinois. Lathrop believed that "occupational treatment was to have a large future in hospital treatment and that this service should be carried on by persons specifically educated for it."

1909 The Society for Mental Hygiene established an occupational department, after recognizing that many persons referred to them needed occupation for therapeutic, economic, and diversional reasons. A workshop was started as an experiment. Follow-up data on clients served, showed the experiment to be so successful that staff members advocated its use with other disabilities. The need for instruction of aides led to the creation of the Henry B. Favill School of Occupations in 1915.

1909 Recreation therapy - a type of psychotherapy - plays an important role in the management of functional neuroses. It is not enough to tell a patient to take a daily walk or to go to the theater. Ascertain what he enjoys. Fortunate is the psychopath who enjoys hunting or fishing; or, still better, the ocean or the mountains. The ceaseless lashing of the sea has a wonderfully calming effect upon the emotions; the inspiring grandeur of the mountains is also quieting and lifts one to higher mental levels. Journal of the Indiana State Medical Association - 1909, The Psychic Element in the Causation and Cure of Disease, By Frank B. Wynn, MD, Indianapolis, December 15, 1909, page 520

1910 Reba G. Cameron, Taunton State Hospital

1910 Eleanor Clark Slagle, a social work student at the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy, enrolled in Lathrop's first course in "curative occupations and recreations" because of her concern about the detrimental effects of idleness on the patients at Kankakee State Hospital.

1910 Tracy wrote the first book on occupations, "Studies in Invalid Occupations-A Manual for Nurses and Attendants." This was a compilation of Tracy's lectures with an illustrated guide for the use of activities with patients. Primarily a craft book, it also gave methods of teaching and explaining the rationale for the use of specific activities for many patient diagnoses in different types of settings. In her book Tracy describes her concept of occupation by using a quote from John Dewey: "By occupation is not meant any kind of 'busy work' or exercise that may be given to a child to keep him out of mischief or idleness when seated at his desk. By occupation I mean a mode of activity on the part of the child which reproduces or runs parallel to some form of work carried on in the social life...The fundamental point of the psychology of an occupation is that it maintains a balance between the intellectual and the practical phases of experience.

1911 After studying Tracy's book on invalid occupations, Dunton taught a series of classes on "occupation and recreation" for nurses at SEPA.

1911 Following her graduation from Lathrop's course, Slagle conducted a similar course at the State Hospital in Newberry, MI. She then went on to Phipps Psychiatric Clinic in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore under Meyer where she was the director of the "Occupational Therapy Department," and conducted classes for nurses in "handiwork for the dispensary patients." (Dispensary former term for clinic: a department in a hospital where a person not requiring hospitalization would receive medical care.)

1911 Tracy conducted the first course in occupation at a general hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital Training School for Nurses.

1911 Maryland Psychiatric Quarterly, edited by Dunton from its inception, published articles relating to occupations and amusements. Became the official organ of the NSPOT when founded in 1917.

1912 Dunton is placed in charge of the "occupations and recreation program" at SEPA.

1914 WWI Begins in Europe

1914 George Edward Barton coins the term "Occupational Therapy" at a meeting in Boston of hospital workers and the Massachusetts State Board of Insanity. It had been formerly known by many titles such as moral treatment, work treatment, work therapy, occupation treatment, occupation reeducation, and ergotherapy. Barton, an architect became an advocate after a personal experience with treatment of illness. Consequently he organized an institution called Consolation House in Clifton Springs, New York. Barton described the purpose of occupational therapy as "to divert the patient's mind, to exercise some particular set of muscles or a limb, or perhaps merely to relieve the tedium of convalescence." He felt that the fundamental principle upon which occupational therapy rested was "not the making of an object but the making of a man." He defined occupational therapy as "the science of instructing and encouraging the sick in such labours as will involve those energies and activities producing a beneficial therapeutic effect."

1914 Tracy, as Director of the Experiment Station for the Study of Invalid Occupations, Jamaica Plains, MA, wrote a flier describing the occupation course offered. The flier states that: "Each patient is considered in light of his threefold personality-body, mind, and spirit. The aim was to improve the patients physical, educational, and financial well-being. The method was based on three principles: The realization of resources, the ability to initiate activities, and the participation in such activities of both sick and well subjects.

1915 Lake Tomahawk State Camp, WI uses the hardening, activity therapy for its TB patients.

1915 Dunton wrote the first complete textbook on occupational therapy, "Occupational Therapy-A Manual for Nurses." In it Dunton outlines the basic tenets, saying that the primary purpose is "to divert the patient's attention from unpleasant subjects, to keep the patient's train of thought in more healthy channels, to control attention, to secure rest, to train in mental processes by educating hand, eyes, muscles, etc., serve as a safety valve, to provide a new vocation." The largest part of the book deals with simple activities that the nurse could use or adapt to the treatment of patients.

1915 Eleanor Clark Slagle (a graduate of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy) organized the first professional school for occupational therapists, the Henry B. Favill School of Occupations, in Chicago. She served as director from 1915 to 1920. Included in the program were craft activities and preindustrial and vocational work as well as games, folk dancing, gymnastics, and playground activities. The program attempted to create a balance of work, rest, and play for mentally ill patients. The school closed, as many did after the end of Worl War I.

1915 Hall published "The Work of Our Hands-A Study of Occupations for Invalids." He divided invalid occupation into "diversional" occupation for those patients who were incurable, and "remedial" occupation for those patients for whom there was therapeutic and economic value in remedial work.

1917 The US enters WWI, which ended in 1918. The official period of medical emergency was from April 16, 1917 to July 2, 1921.

1917 The Surgeon General's Office forms the Division of Special Hospitals and Physical Reconstruction, employing 2,000 "reconstruction aides" to fill the need for health professionals to rehabilitate the wounded. Practicing in army hospitals, and later in veteran's hospitals, reconstruction aides helped to restore the wounded through the use of indoor and outdoor games, active exercises, passive exercises in the form of massage, muscle reeducation, and hydro, electro, and mechanotherapy .

1917 During a meeting held at Consolation House, the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (NSPOT) formed, incorporated, and chartered under the laws of the District of Columbia. Charter members were George E. Barton, Eleanor Clark Slagle, Dr. William Rush Dunton, Jr., Susan C. Johnson (occupational therapist at Montefiore Hospital in New York), Isabel G. Newton (Barton's secretary), and Thomas B. Kidner (vocational secretary of the Military Hospital Commission of Canada). Susan B. Tracy, unable to attend, was elected as an active member and incorporator of the society. Barton became the first president.

1917 NSPOT has its first annual meeting in New York. The theme of presentations were centered on the theme "The Reconstruction of the Mentally and Physically Disabled." Vocational education is proposed by Dunton. Dunton is elected president, a post he held for two years. The Maryland Psychiatric Quarterly becomes their official publishing organ.

1918 The first reconstruction aides go to La Fauche, France, to serve at Base Hospital 117 near the front lines. The Red Cross issued their uniforms (gray coat-suit) and supplies, although they were not a part of that organization. To supplement the supplies, the aides raided trash heaps for metal and wood for the workshop crafts.
The unit leader, Mrs. Clyde McDowell Meyers, reflected in the AJOT, 2, 211-212, that "nobody was forced to do anything. That was the principle of the shop. The work was to attract and interest the men and they, through it, were to be drawn back to the normal, away from the horrors that had shaken and broken them; the opportunity for creative self-expression, self-forgetfulness, and then health... To stimulate their interest and make them forget was our object in all the work."

1918 The St. Louis School for Reconstruction Aides opens. It was the first school west of the Mississippi River and remains with Tufts, as one of the only original programs still operating.

1918 The Menninger Clinic opens.

1918 Army Medical Department Bulletin a-329 outlines qualifications and job description for reconstruction aides, as "civilian employees whose province is to teach various forms of simple hand craft to patients in military hospitals and other sanitary formations of the Army, especially to those patients in the orthopedic and surgical wards as well as to the patients suffering from nervous or mental diseases." An undated War Department memorandum authorized a metal "R.A." 1/2 inch in height to be worn on the collar.

1918 Mrs. Howard Mansfield, chair of the committee on War Service Classes, established training for forty-two reconstruction aides at the Lennox School in NY, with the goal of "proving the therapeutic value of activity to our convalescent soldiers and sailors both here and abroad."

1918 First National Recreation Congress is held.

1918-1919 Red Cross publishes "Carry On-a Magazine on the Reconstruction of Disabled Soldiers and Sailors" references to occupational therapy are consistent and positive.

1918 Dunton, at the second annual NSPOT meeting, delivered nine cardinal rules to guide practice. They were expanded by a committee of therapist to fifteen. Out of these principles came the first universal definition of occupational therapy: "A method of treatment by means of instruction and employment in productive occupation." The objectives were "To arouse interest, courage and confidence; to exercise the mind and body in healthy activities; to overcome functional disability; and to re-establish a capacity for industrial and social usefulness."

1919 Dunton wrote "Reconstruction Therapy." It includes the first OT Credo:
That occupation is as necessary to life as food and drink. That every human being should have both physical and mental occupation. That all should have occupations which they enjoy, or hobbies. These are the more necessary when the vocation is dull or distasteful. Every individual should have at least two hobbies, one outdoor and one indoor. A greater number will create wider interests, a broader intelligence.
That sick minds, bodies, and souls may be healed through occupation.

1919 The St. Louis School for Reconstruction Aides, changed its name to the St. Louis School of Occupational Therapy. Two programs were offered: a three-year diploma course, and a four-year course leading to a B.S. degree in education granted by Washington University through University College.

1919 Dr Sidney Schwab, medical director of Base Hospital 117, speaks enthusiastically of occupational therapy: "A method of treatment that can meet its purpose so surely and definitely as this did would seem to have something of the adaptability of a proven thing, and must be regarded a definite part of the medical organization."

1920 The National Association of Ex-Military Reconstruction Aides is formed. They publish a quarterly magazine titled; "Re-Aides' Post"

1920 Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 2 JUN 1920 (PL113)

1922 First issue of the "Archives of Occupational Therapy" (becomes the official organ of the NSPOT, then the AOTA when founded in 1923), in it Meyer's philosophy of occupational therapy is published. He states, "Our conception of man is that of an organism that maintains and balances itself in the world of reality and actuality by being in active life and active use, i.e. using and living and acting its time in harmony with its own nature and the nature about it. It is the use that we make of ourselves that gives the ultimate stamp to our every organ." He further describes the rhythms of life that must be kept in balance even under difficulty as, work, play, rest, and sleep. Meyer felt that the treatment of the mentally ill must be a blending of work and pleasure that included both recreation and productive activity.

1922-1955 Dr. John Eisele Davis Chief of Corrective Therapy, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, Veterans Administration Hospital, Perry Point, MD. Founder of the Association of Physical and Mental Rehabilitation, an affiliate of AAHPER. Fellow of the American Physical Education Association.

1923 The NSPOT changes its name to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) (Archives of Occupational Therapy official organ).

1925 Archives of Occupational Therapy changes name to Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation (still official organ of AOTA, until 1947)

1926 Recreation Act of 1926-43ss 869-869-3

1926 Potts Memorial Hospital, Livingston, NY uses recreational therapy

1928 Dunton writes "Prescribing Occupational Therapy." Reiss. in 1945 and 1947.

1929 Wall Street crashed

1929 Olive View Sanatorium, CA uses activity therapy

1932 The Menninger Clinic begins "attitude therapy"

1933 Davis begins working for the VAMC in corrective therapy (retires in 1955)(credited with founding the Association of Physical and Medical Rehabilitation)

1934 The Works Progress Administration-Recreation Division funds recreation leaders at institutions.

1934 In order to meet growing demands in the professional field and because increased opportunities were available through the cooperation of Washington University, courses in recreation and group work were included in the curricular requirements. The name of the school was changed to the St. Louis School of Occupational and Recreational Therapy.

1935 Social Security Act establishes a federal program of old-age insurance.

1935 Davis publishes "Recreational Therapy, Play and Mental Health."

1936 Edward Livingston Trudeau's Saranac Lake, NY, Dr. Blanchet founded the Study and Craft Guild for the treatment of patients.

1936 Davis and Dunton collaborate to publish "Principles and Practice of Recreational Therapy" the forward is written by Adolf Meyer, May 3, 1933. Recreational therapy is defined as "any free, voluntary and expressive activity; motor, sensory or mental, vitalized by the expansive play spirit, sustained by deep-rooted pleasurable attitudes and evoked by wholesome emotional release; prescribed by medical authority as an adjuvant in treatment."

1937 US Congress continues funding VAMCs for recreational articles and facilities at institutions.

1938 American Association for Health and Physical Education, adds Recreation to the name, becomes AAHPER

1938 Davis publishes "Recreational Therapy, Play and Mental Health."

1938 The St. Louis School of Recreational and Occupational Therapy's curriculum was evaluated and approved by the AMA. The program currently only offers advanced degrees, and is a school of the Washington University Medical School, reporting directly to the Dean of Medicine.

1939 "Occupational Therapy-A New Profession" Occupations, The Vocational Guidance Magazine, 17:293-298, Jan., 1939, describes AMA approved occupational therapy curriculum with recreational therapy as one of three branches of OT specialization.

193? St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, DC starts recreation service


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