Chiropractic History

We just celebrated D.D. Palmer’s 168th birthday. One hundred and sixty-eight years have passed since that fateful day on March 7, 1845. There is so much chiropractic history in such a short time one hardly knows where to begin. Without knowing our history, it is impossible to practice our philosophy. It is also impossible to move forward as a profession. Here’s a bit of history to whet your appetite…

Some Early History

D.D. Palmer became a magnetic healer in 1886, when he moved from Burlington, Iowa, to Davenport, Iowa. It was in Davenport that he gave the first chiropractic adjustment to Harvey Lillard at 4:00 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. The date was September 18, 1895. After christening his new practice “Chiropractic” in June, 1896 (a term suggested by his friend Rev. Samuel H. Weed), Palmer soon decided to teach it. This of course came after a near fatal train accident in 1897 in Fulton, Missouri.

D.D. started teaching palpation in 1898, with the enrollment of his first student on January 15th, Leroy Baker. Baker did not complete the course (which took from two weeks to three months). The first two graduates were William A. Seeley, a homeopath, and A.P. Davis, M.D., D.O. In those early classes, D.D. only taught adjusting of the 4th to 12th dorsal vertebra.[1]

By 1899, the Palmer Infirmary and Chiropractic Institute (PICI) had three more students and the new profession was on its way to changing the world. In 1901, there were five more students. In 1902, there were four (including B.J. Palmer – son of the founder). [1, 2]

In 1902, D.D. moved to Pasadena, California for a short time, where, he was arrested for practicing medicine without a license.[3, 4] In 1904, he went back to southern California and also to Portland, Oregon. He started schools in both locations.[5]

More History

By 1907, there were at least thirty-nine schools started in Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Oregon, California, Michigan, Washington, Indiana, and Illinois.[6]

1907 was also the year coccyx was adjusted for the first time.[1] Years later in 1932, B.J. Palmer explained why they stopped adjusting coccyx. While enlarging on the 33 principles,[7] B.J. wrote,

“Cord tension was an explanation of what could happen at other end of cauda equina or tail end of spinal cord when placed under pulling action, because of a possible subluxation of sacrum or coccyx. While a great deal of work was done in adjusting possible subluxations of sacrum and coccyx, it was eventually proved what we were doing was to so strain spinal column that we were ACCIDENTALLY adjusting MAJOR subluxation at a superior place in cervical region. A simple illustration will suffice: Draw a string taut, fastening both ends…”[8]

In 1908, the first side-posture adjusting was used by Carver. There were now between 400-600 practicing chiropractors. By 1910, there were 2,000 chiropractors and atlas was adjusted for the first time.[1]

In 1912, the first “stretching device” is used by chiropractors as well as the first adjusting table with springs. The Zenith Hylo table received its first patent on June 8th of that year. Also in 1912, the National College was the first chiropractic college to introduce dissection.

John Craven – Pioneer of Chiropractic Philosophy

1912 was also the year that John Craven graduated from the PSC. Craven was one of the pioneers of chiropractic philosophy. His contributions to the core tenets of the philosophy of chiropractic should never be forgotten.[9-20] He coauthored “The Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5,” with B.J. Palmer. In the preface to the 3rd edition (1919), Craven wrote, “the expressions “Chiropractic Philosophy” and “Vol. 5” have practically become synonymous.”

Here is a brief discussion turned into a short movie about Craven between Drs. Kent, Gentempo and myself.[21]

In the preface to the 2nd edition, Craven wrote,

“There is no question but this book stands alone, it is in a class by itself so far as Chiropractic Philosophy is concerned. It contains the very latest and most recent conclusions, and will be found invaluable to every Chiropractor, as well as interesting and instructive reading for the laity. The science of Chiropractic is in its formative period, and the past few years have seen great progress along every line of Chiropractic. As nothing is permanent except change, we must expect men’s minds to keep abreast the times. Dr. Palmer has more than kept pace with his contemporaries, he has lived and is living many years in advance of his time. In the years to come this work will be more appreciated than it is now.”

History of Chiropractic

D.D. Palmer died in 1913. His ashes were placed at the Palmer School of Chiropractic on August 21st, 1921.

There are many wonderful books, chronologies, and articles exploring the history in detail. There are however too few scholarly papers on the philosophy of chiropractic. In many ways, the discipline of philosophy has been a casualty of the history of chiropractic. That is the topic of another blog post.

The Association for the History of Chiropractic is very active. Please become a member of the AHC and then be sure to join the facebook page where ongoing discussions happen daily. Also, if you are feeling adventurous you should head to Colorado this July for the 33rd annual conference: HistCon 33.[22]

Philosophy of Chiropractic Library

In honor of D.D.’s 168th birthday, we just launched the Philosophy of Chiropractic Library. The library emphasizes books and articles on the philosophy and history of chiropractic, which are accessible online and mostly free. There are also a few interesting reads on science, art, and Integral Theory. We hope you enjoy! The library will grow so check back often.[23]

It is only by mastering your knowledge of the history, philosophy, and science of chiropractic that you become a true master of your art.

References

1.    Evans, H. (1979). Chiropractic Historical Data. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books.

2.    Zarbuck, M. (1988). Chiropractic Parallax: Part 3. Illinois Prairie State Chiropractors Association Journal of Chiropractic. July.

3.    Keating, J. (1998). D.D. Palmer’s Lifeline.

4.    Zarbuck, M. (1988). Chiropractic Parallax: Part 1. Illinois Prairie State Chiropractors Association Journal of Chiropractic. January.

5.    Zarbuck, M. and M. Hayes, (1990). Following D.D. Palmer to the West Coast: The Pasadena Connection, 1902. Chiropractic History. 10(2): p. 17-19.  (Reprinted by permission of the Association for the History of Chiropractic.)

6.    Chiropractic Colleges started between 1896-1907. Adapted from Glenda Wiese. Alana  Callender (2007). How many chiropractic schools? An update. Chiropr Hist 27(2): 89-119.  (Reprinted by permission of the Association for the History of Chiropractic.)

7.    Ralph W. Stephenson. (1927). Thirty Three Principles. In Chiropractic textbook: Volume 14. Davenport: Palmer School of Chiropractic.

8.    Palmer, B.J. (1932). The Story of Crowding the Hour. In Clinical controlled chiropractic research; vol. 25. (1951). Davenport, IA: Palmer College. (page 510, principle 63).

9.    Craven, J. (1919). Universal Intelligence. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’sPhilosophy of Chiropractic. Davenport, Palmer College of Chiropractic.*

10.    Craven, J. (1919). Innate Intelligence. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’sPhilosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

11.    Craven, J. (1919). Mental. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

12.    Craven, J. (1919). Innate Mind – Educated Mind. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

13.    Craven, J. (1919). Creation. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

14.    Craven, J. (1919). Brain Cell. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

15.    Craven, J. (1919). Transformation. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

16.    Craven, J. (1919). Mental Impulse. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

17.    Craven, J. (1919). Propulsion. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

18.    Craven, J. (1919). Vibration. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

19.    Craven, J. (1919). Sensation-Ideation. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’s Philosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

20.    Craven, J. (1919). Restoration Cycle. In B.J. Palmer and John Craven’sPhilosophy of Chiropractic: Volume 5. Davenport, Palmer School of Chiropractic.*

21.    Senzon, S., C. Kent, and P. Gentempo. (2011). Chiropractic History with Simon Senzon: “Simon Says Segment”. On Purpose.

22.    Association for the History of Chiropractic. [AHC on Facebook] [Sign-up] [AHC Conference][HistCon33 FB Invite]

23.    Philosophy of Chiropractic Online Library.

*Quoted from Sinnott, R. (1997). The Greenbooks: A collection of timeless Chiropractic works – by those who lived it! Mokena, IL, Chiropractic books.