History

(initial history provided by Elizabeth Larson, 2002)

History can be made in those mundane moments when neither the impact nor the influence on the future can fully be understood. In 1917 a group of scholars made history when they met to establish the profession of occupational therapy. Their vision for this fledgling profession, focused on the core idea of occupation: to advance "occupation as a therapeutic measure," "study … the effects of occupation upon the human being," and disseminate "scientific knowledge of this subject." Although this date and time marked a turning point, it was in fact a culmination of many individuals' efforts and advocacy. As in any good story, the founding mothers and fathers could not have predicted the course the profession of occupational therapy would take and how long it would be before a discipline that specifically studied occupation was developed.

The founders' vision served as the groundwork for what has emerged today as the discipline of occupational science. Interest in occupational science has surfaced on nearly every continent where scholars are joining together in study groups, on listserves and web pages, and at conferences to discuss the ideas and their applications to occupational therapy. This proliferation of events on occupational science has surprised many but seems to be meeting a growing need among practitioners and scholars to better understand and use occupation therapeutically. "Occupational science…is developing in ways that we could never imagined or predicted-its shape and character are being formed by scholars who embrace it and the students who earn doctoral degrees in the discipline" (Zemke & Clark, 1996).

In November 2002, nearly 90 years later, another landmark event in the evolution of occupational science occurred. In Galveston, Texas, another group of scholars met to formally establish the first U.S.-based research society aimed at addressing the mission outlined by the founders. This event too marked the cumulative efforts of many individuals over several years. Since that First Annual Research Conference in 2002, the Society for the Study of Occupation: USA has continued the original mission of facilitating high quality scholarship. There were so many people who contributed and offered support, both financially and emotionally, that it would be impossible to mention them all here. Suffice to say, it takes the effort of many to continue the mission.