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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation records

Identifier: ua00151

Scope and Content

The collection contains the administrative history of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Minnesota. Materials include budgets, reports, teaching outlines and notes, course syllabi and exams, lectures, talks, writings, grants, and publications. Of note are the materials relating to Sister Elizabeth Kenny's visit to Minnesota, and the instruction and continuing education courses the department created around the Kenny technique to treat polio.

A majority of the material was created by Dr. Frederick Kottke in his role as head of the department. Researchers interested in a particular topic should review all series, as there is overlap and repetition of materials between the individual series.


  • 1941-2006


Language of Materials

Collection material in English

Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

Lectures in physical therapy began in the University’s Medical School in the 1930s, and in 1939, Miland E. Knapp was named director of the Medical School’s Division of Physical Therapy.

In 1941, the first certificate course for physical therapists was offered. In the 1942-1943 University of Minnesota Bulletin, the course is described as “a twelve-month course” from which a graduate is “prepared to carry out techniques, under a physician's directions, applied to the following branches of physical therapy: hydrotherapy, thermotherapy, light therapy, electrotherapy, and mechanotherapy (massage and corrective exercises)…Graduates of this course are eligible to become registered physical therapy technicians.”

The Division of Physical Therapy became the Division of Physical Medicine in 1946 and included the studies of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation. Physical medicine was described as being “one of the most rapidly expanding specialties in medicine” in the 1947-1949 University Bulletin, which explained that “trained physiatrists, of whom there is an insufficient number, are greatly needed to supply openings in medical schools, private practice, and the veteran's administration.”

The first undergraduate degree in physical therapy was granted by the Division in 1947, and occupational therapy was established as an undergraduate degree-granting program in 1948.

In 1952, the Division of Physical Medicine became an autonomous department of the Medical School called the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Courses offered in the undergraduate program included Therapeutic Recreation; Theory and Technique of Thermo-, Photo-, Hydro-, and Electrotherapy; Theory and Technique of Massage; and Physiology of Muscles. The Department also offered courses for graduate work in medicine.

In the early 1960s, the Department’s main curricular focus for undergraduates was physical therapy and occupational therapy while graduate degrees in physical medicine were also offered.

A federal Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Research and Training Center was established at the University in 1961, and the opening of the Children's Rehabilitation Center in 1964 enabled the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to provide facilities for in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation for children and adults, becoming a major provider of rehabilitation care for the Upper Midwest.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, the Department was noted as a premier physical medicine and rehabilitation national training center. In the early 2010s, the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department, in addition to maintaining a clinic for patients, offered “education across the training spectrum,” including, physical therapy DPT (Professional Doctoral Degree in Physical Therapy) degree programs, rehabilitation science masters and doctoral degree programs, medical student coursework, residency and fellowship training, graduate student advanced training, and continuing medical education.

Director of Division of Physical Therapy

  1. Miland E. Knapp, Director, 1939-1946

Directors of Division of Physical Medicine

  1. Miland E. Knapp, Director, 1946-1949
  2. Frederic J. Kottke, Director, 1949-1952

Heads of Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

  1. Frederic J. Kottke, Head, 1952-1982
  2. Glenn Cullickson, Jr., Interim Head, 1982-1986
  3. Roby Thompson, Jr., Interim Head, 1986-1992
  4. Dennis D. Dykstra, Head and Clinical Chief, 1992-


14.0 Cubic Feet (14)


Collection contains the records of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Minnesota.


The collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Administrative Files
  2. Kenny Technique
  3. Grants and Research
  4. Publications and Handbooks
  5. Curriculum and Instruction
  6. Talks and Writings
  7. Alphabetical Files
  8. Photographs and Audio-Visual

Source of acquisition

The first deposit of the collection was made in University Archives on September 25, 1951; additional materials were deposited in 2011.

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Records, 1941-2006
Karen Spilman
May 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area