Eleanor Clarke Slagle

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Eleanor Clarke Slagle (October 13, 1870–September 18, 1942) was an American social worker and an early pioneer of occupational therapy.

Born in Hobart, New York, she was the only daughter of William John Clark and Emeline (Emmaline) J. (née Davenport) Clark. During her youth she went by the name Ella May Clark.[1] Her father fought as an officer in the American Civil War and may have been left partially disabled by a neck wound. In 1894, she married Robert E. Slagle.[2]

There is little record of what follows, up until she began studying at the Chicago School for Civics and Philanthropy in 1911. Thereafter she was employed in state hospitals of Michigan and New York. It was while visiting at the Kankakee State Hospital in Illinois that she became inspired to work in occupational therapy. In 1912, she became director of a department of occupational therapy at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. In 1914 she resigned and returned to Chicago, where she gave lectures at the Chicago School for Civics and Philanthropy.[2] In 1917, she became general superintendent of occupational therapy for all of the Illinois state hospitals. The same year the training school she started was named the Henry B. Favill School of Occupations which continued until 1920.

Up until this period, occupational therapy had not been taken seriously as a medical career. Hence, 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, she was elected president. For many years thereafter she served as secretary-treasurer of the organization. In 1922, she established the headquarters of the American Occupational Therapy Association in New York.[2] For the next twenty years, she served as occupational therapy director at the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene.[3] She died in Philipse Manor, New York and is buried at Locust Hill Cemetery in Hobart, New York.

The Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award of the American Occupational Therapy Association is named in her honor.


  1. ^ James, Edward T.; James, Janet Wilson (1974). Notable american women: a biographical dictionary. Dumbarton Oaks Colloquium Series in the History of Landscape Architecture. Harvard University Press. p. 296. ISBN 0-674-62734-2. 
  2. ^ a b c Joan E. Lynaugh, eds. (2000). Eleanor Clarke Slagel and Susan E. Tracy: Personal and Professional Identity and the Development of Occupational Therapy in Progressive Era America. Nursing History Review: Official Journal of the American Association for the History of Nursing. 8. Springer Publishing Company. pp. 39–70. ISBN 0-8261-1317-6.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help) Also see note 18, page 67.
  3. ^ "Eleanor Clarke Slagle". Psychiatric Quarterly. 16 (4): 797–799. doi:10.1007/BF01573663.