Founders of Occupational Therapy: Eleanor Clark Slagle

Published - April 6, 2017

In honor of National Occupational Therapy Month, CBD College is spotlighting the founders of this integral field.  CBD College looks forward to spreading OT awareness this month and every month.

eleanor clark slagleEleanor Clark Slagle

Born: October 13, 1871, Hobart, NY

Died: September 18, 1942, Getty Square, Yonkers, NY

Eleanor Clark Slagle is known as the mother of Occupational Therapy.  She began studying at the Chicago School for Civics and Philanthropy in 1911.  It was while visiting at the Kankakee State Hospital in Illinois that she became inspired to work in occupational therapy. She went to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD in 1912.  Slagle founded and began directing the department of occupational therapy there.  Up until this period, the medical and healthcare fields did not take occupational therapy seriously.  So she began working to promote the field of occupational therapy as a professional occupation.

During the third annual meeting of the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy, the committee elected Eleanor Clark Slagle president.  She became the first female president of OT.  Additionally, she later served as the secretary of AOTA for 15 years.  Slagle used habit training to help mentally ill patients engage in structured occupations. In 1922, she established the headquarters of the American Occupational Therapy Association in New York.  For the next twenty years, she served as occupational therapy director at the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene.  In her lifetime, she trained over 4000 OTs.  The Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award of the American Occupational Therapy Association is named in her honor.

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