The contributions of Jane Addams on the development of occupational therapy

Keywords: history of science, pragmatism, professional identity, progressive era, United States of America


The first occupational therapy school was founded at Jane Addams Hull House in 1915. In that process, Jane Addams inspired the first generation of occupational therapists, especially Eleanor Clarke Slagle. This article is divided into two parts, the first explores the relationships within the foundation of occupational therapy at the Hull House, in the early twentieth century in Chicago; Through an in-depth bibliographic review, from primary sources, the relationships and influences between the residents of the Hull House and the first occupational therapists in Chicago are identified. The second part considers some reflections on some Addams influences in the development and current identity of occupational therapy, mainly in one of its collaborators, Slagle. Jane Addams was a role model for many of the first occupational therapists, especially for Slagle. She learned from Addams her tenacity and leadership, central aspects for the foundation of the first school of occupational therapy. Some of these aspects are valid in the current practice of occupational therapy. Today, more than 100 years after its foundation, occupational therapy has much to learn, again, from the philosophy of Jane Addams.


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Morrison, R. (2022). The contributions of Jane Addams on the development of occupational therapy. History of Science and Technology, 12(2), 262-278.