Mary Reilly*, EdD
Mary Reilly*, EdD

Mary Reilly*, EdD



Dr. Reilly was among the first three individuals inducted into the AOTF Academy of Research in 1983.  The other two were A. Jean Ayres, PhD, OTR, FAOTA and Elizabeth J. Yerxa, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA, her California colleagues.  Dr. Reilly was on the faculty of the Occupational Therapy Department of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles California.  "In the 1960's, [she] redesigned the USC's master's program in occupational therapy around core theoretical and philosophical knowledge rather than merely technical skills," (Clark, 2012, p. 16).  She retired from USC in 1978 and was named Emeritus Professor.  

Many people are familiar with this quote from Dr. Reilly's 1962 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture:

  • Man through the use of his hands as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health. (Reilly, 1962, p. 2).

Florence Clark, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA wrote:

  • The quote encapsulates what Dr. Reilly became internationally renowned for in the 1960's and 1970"s: developing a frame of reference for occupational behavior that described the biopsychosocial nature of man through the occupations of work, play, and self-care. (Clark, 2012, p. 16).

Linda Florey, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA wrote:

  • Dr. Reilly is responsible for the rich resources occupational therapy now possesses in the areas of play, occupation, work, and the work-play continuum otherwise known as "occupational behavior". She did not do all of the work herself but skillfully directed and influenced a cadre of over 90 occupational therapy students pursuing graduate degrees at the University of Southern California. These students moved around the country and seeded practice, education, and organizational leadership in their areas. (Florey, 2012).

Dr. Reilly read in many disciplines and some books from her remaining library are part of the "Mary Reilly Collection" in the Wilma L. West Library.


Clark, F.  (2012 Spring). Remembering Mary Reilly: an iconoclast, visionary and friend.  USC Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Newsletter, 14-16.

Florey, L.  (2012), In memoriam: Mary Reilly.  California Foundation for Occupational Therapy Yearly Newsletter.     

Reilly, M.  (1962). Occupational therapy can be one of the greatest ideas of 20th century medicine.  1961 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 16, 1-9.

Reilly, M.  (1969). The Educational Process. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 23, 299-307.

Reilly, M (Ed.). (1974). Play as exploratory learning: Studies of curiosity behavior. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Reilly, M.  (1977). A response to: Defining Occupational Therapy: The meaning of therapy and the virtues of occupation. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 31, 673-674.

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