Thomas Kidner

Thomas Kidner – A Biography

Kidner was an enthusiastic proponent of manual training in schools and also served as vocational secretary at military hospitals during World War I. He played an instrumental role in developing programs for rehabilitation of soldiers.

He is well-recognized in the US for his contributions to occupational therapy; however, in Canada where his career started between 1900 and 1918.

Early Life and Education

Thomas Bessell Kidner is well known in the United States as a significant contributor to occupational therapy, yet less well known here in Canada despite having made his initial contributions between 1900 and 1918. This research project seeks to tell his story and demonstrate the significant influence he exerted within this field of practice through interpretative methods of biography research using archive material, published articles, and family papers as sources.

This series began its life on CITV before it moved over to Channel 5’s Milkshake! strand in 2007. Since then, it has been shown on various international channels like TVOKids in Australia, ABC Kids in New Zealand and Four in France, Southeast Asia Spain Italy.

Professional Career

Thomas Bessell Kidner is widely acknowledged in the United States as one of the pioneers of occupational therapy. However, in Canada his early contributions were made from 1900-18.

While living in Canada, he organized manual training in elementary schools and served as vocational secretary of the Canadian Military Hospitals Commission. His programs to rehabilitate wounded soldiers attracted the notice of Eleanor Clark Slagle, Elizabeth Upham-Davis and members of the United States Federal Board for Vocational Education.

He served as vice-president and research director of the American Occupational Therapy Association and National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy. Additionally, he was one of the original founding members of AOTA’s Professional Council.

Achievement and Honors

He was one of the founding members of the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (NSPOT), later known as the American Occupational Therapy Association. From 1923-1928 he also served as its president.

On 30 October 1782 Thomas Kidner was found guilty of theft at Bristol for taking four pieces of Irish linen valued at 6 pounds, and sentenced to seven years of transportation at age 23. Initially sent aboard the Censor hulk, Thomas later transferred onto Alexander as soon as it docked at Bristol harbor on 6 January 1787.

Kidner achieved second lieutenant rank during his service to the Air Force, attending advanced electronics and armament schools before serving with the 47th Bomb Group at Sculthorpe, Norfolk England as Electronics Staff Officer overseeing communications and radar equipment aboard three squadrons of medium range B-45s.

Personal Life

Thomas Kidner was well known in the United States as a pioneering figure of occupational therapy. Unfortunately, however, his influence was less widely felt here in Canada between 1900 and 1918 where many of his contributions were first made to this field of practice.

Born in England, Kidner was found guilty of stealing four pieces of Irish linen worth PS6 from Bristol on 30 October 1782 and sentenced to seven years transportation on the Censor hulk before moving onto Alexander.

He married Jane Whiting of Norfolk Island in 1795 and together they had two children – Ann was baptised 1798 while Thomas arrived two years later on board Lady Nelson from Norfolk Island – holding 22 acres at Brown’s River, 30 at Queenborough and 60 at Sussex.

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