Researching APTA and Physical Therapy History

The following resources are recommended by APTA's Information Resources Department for those interested in researching (or preserving) APTA or physical therapy history.


Healing the Generations: A History of Physical Therapy and the American Physical Therapy Association, by Wendy Murphy. Alexandria, Va.: APTA, 1995. This book is out of print. Check the holdings at your local public library or academic library. If it is not available there, contact your affiliated library to place an interlibrary loan (ILL). Copies are occasionally available for sale from online booksellers like or

The Beginnings: Physical Therapy and the APTA. Alexandria, Va.: APTA, 1979. This book is out of print. You may be able to find it in your local college library. If they do not have the book in their collection, they may be able to borrow it for you through interlibrary loan.

The McMillan Lectures: The First 25 Years. Alexandria, Va.: APTA, 1992. This book includes the lectures from 1964 to 1991 and a 1992-1993 supplement as originally published in Physical Therapy: Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association. The McMillan Lectureship, APTA's most prestigious award, honoring a member who has made a distinguished contribution to the profession, was established in 1963 to pay tribute to Mary McMillan, the Association's founding president. This book is out of print. McMillan Lectures are published annually in Physical Therapy.

Databases & Search Engines

PubMed. Identify additional articles on your topic by using PubMed the free database of the National Library of Medicine. Citations in PubMed cover the fields of medicine, nursing, and health and rehabilitation sciences, including physical therapy. PubMed includes citations from more than 4,800 journals, including Physical Therapy. Visit your local public or collegiate library and ask the reference staff for assistance. A librarian may also be able to obtain copies for you through the library's interlibrary loan service (ILL).


PT in Motion: This monthly magazine, published by APTA, often includes articles that are historical in nature. PT in Motion publishes author and subject indexes for the current year in each December issue. You can use these indices to identify articles on your topic. You may also search or browse the table of contents of PT in Motion via the APTA Web site.


APTA History: This Web page provides a brief overview of APTA's history, including photographs from the APTA Archives.

Additional Historical Research Resources

How to Find Information in the Physical Therapy Literature

APTA Archives: The APTA Archives is open to APTA members and the public for historical research, by appointment. Contact the Information Resources Department at 703/706-8534 or 800/999-2782, ext 8534, to schedule an appointment.

Oral Histories: The APTA Archives includes a collection of oral histories of physical therapists who have made important contributions to the profession. APTA members may borrow copies of these interviews by contacting the APTA Information Resources Department at 800/999-2782, ext 8534.

Local Library Staff: Speak to a reference librarian or archivist at your institution's affiliated health care library, academic library, or public library. Library staff can often recommend sources of information on your topic.

Historical Collections

Sites of historical physical therapy collections:

History of Medicine Division: National Library of Medicine (Bethesda, Maryland)

Historical Collections: Health Sciences and Human Services Library: University of Maryland (Baltimore, Maryland)

Notes: The Kendall Historical Collection in physical therapy is among the holdings. Comprised of over 100 volumes, this collection was donated by Dr. Florence P. Kendall, noted lecturer and author of works that have become core materials in the discipline of physical therapy.

Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation (Warm Springs, Georgia)

Preserving History

American Physical Therapy Association Guide to Oral History. This document includes helpful information about planning and recording an oral history. Suggestions for interview questions and topics are included. To request a copy, contact APTA's Information Resources Department at 800/999-2782, ext 8534.

Guidelines for the American Physical Therapy Association Component Archives. This document includes guidance on what type of materials should be kept in a component's archives, a list of archival suppliers, and additional information on the development of a component's archives. To request a copy, contact APTA's Information Resources Department at 800/999-2782, ext 8534.

Preserving Component History: Recommendations for Component Historians and History Committees. This four-page brochure gives an overview of the development of component archives, including criteria for retention, preserving photographs, and oral history interviews. To request a copy, contact APTA's Component Services Department at 800/999-2782, ext 3234.

CSM 2016