Over the years there had been many articles in Physical Therapy Review about physical therapists providing better scientific data on their work, one of the hallmarks of a true profession. A few members obliged with worthy contributions to the research literature. Among the more impressive works were Margaret Moore’s three-part “Goniometric Measurements” (1949) and Marian Williams’ comprehensive “Manual Muscle Testing, Development and Current Use” (1956), both of which appeared in the Review. But, as a rule, physical therapists were too busy practicing their profession to find the time and funds needed to undertake and record well-documented studies.
In 1955, E. Jane Carlin, speaker of the House, and Mildred O. Elson, APTA’s executive director, brought before the House of Delegates the idea of establishing an internal fund to foster scientific, literary, and educational projects in physical therapy. After lengthy discussions, the House gave the proposal an enthusiastic go-ahead, and in 1957 the Physical Therapy Fund was established. The fund was incorporated as a separate entity under the laws of the state of New York, with APTA as sponsoring agent. By April 17, 1957, 431 contributors — including Mary McMillan — had donated a total of $5,889.75 to the fund. Contributions ranged from $1 to $1,000. By the end of 1957, the fund had met all the legal requirements to be a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation.