Abstract

This article will examine the career of weaver and occupational therapist Mary E. Black (1885–1988) by using her life as a lens through which to explore the intersection of arts and crafts revivalism with occupational therapy in early twentieth-century northeastern North America. Born in Massachusetts, Black grew up in and was educated in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. She trained as ward’s aide in Montreal in 1919 and worked in a string of hospitals and sanitariums throughout the United States and Nova Scotia. Indeed, Black understood her work as an occupational therapist and what she described as “the therapeutics of weaving” to be intertwined. Like many arts and crafts revivalists of her period, Black saw the teaching of skilled craftmaking as a means to generate self-sufficiency, since it provided a way for displaced and injured people to make salable goods in the face of industrialization, war, and inadequate medical care. In Black’s case, the utopian social mission of the new professional field of occupational therapy provided just the institutional means to disseminate the remunerative qualities of craftwork on a broad scale.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2154-9648
Print ISSN
1045-991X
Pages
pp. 321-340
Launched on MUSE
2011-09-29
Open Access
No
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