The reconstruction aides, civilian women who served in World War I, are credited with an influential role in the development of occupational therapy. Their task was to provide treatment in the form of occupation to enable servicemen suffering from wounds or battle neurosis to return to the battlefront. Although some occupational therapy aides were occupational therapists, many were teachers, artists, and craftspersons. This paper traces the history of the reconstruction aides, describes the women who served, and recounts their experiences. The relationships between reconstruction aides and other professions suggest the origins of current problems of professional identity and role delineation.

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