Chiropractic Heritage and History

If you have additions to the History timeline please forward them to [email protected] citing your source.

Ancient Physician Practices
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, April 27, 2016 11:00 AM

Life in the ancient world was risky business. The perils of war, disease, famine and childbirth are a just a few examples of circumstances that contributed to a much lower average lifespan in the ancient world than we have in the modern era. People in antiquity were no less concerned about the prevention and cure of maladies than they are now, however, and entire cults, sanctuaries and professions dedicated to health dotted the spiritual, physical and professional landscapes of the ancient world. So what exactly did ancient cultures do to combat disease and injury?

In many societies, the gods played an integral role in human health. In the Greek world, the god Asklepios was dedicated exclusively to healing.  Sanctuaries called Asklepions drew the ill and injured, who would often travel to seek the healing that they believed these ancient sanitariums could provide. Asklepions provided baths, healthy foods and sanctuary rooms intended specifically for sleep and meditation. Most Asklepions were located in remote and beautiful areas. Animal sacrifices and votive offerings were made at altars and temples to the god. Excavations at Asklepions have uncovered “anatomical votives,” so named because they represent the body part that was injured or affected by illness.

History:  1930 to 1940
Written by Chris Dalrymple, DC   
Wednesday, January 13, 2016 12:00 PM

By 1930 the depression era was underway and lasted until the late 1930s.  The Texas Chiropractic College’s course work had increased to between 12 and 24 months by 1930, and Dr. Stone, the founder of what became the Texas Chiropractic College had “just recently retired” after over 20 years in practice.  

Early in 1930 Paul L. Myers, DC, began doing experimental work with cervical x-rays and took over 1200 x-ray films to prove how to measure the subluxation of the Atlas. It is supposed that he was the first Chiropractor in Texas to make standing x-rays.

1931 saw the construction of the Empire State Building, and the adoption of   “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the United States’s national anthem.  In 1932 the Lindbergh baby kidnapping captured the public’s imagination and in 1933 Prohibition in the United States is abolished and Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. 

History: The Turn of the Last Century, After WWI to the Great Depression
Written by Editor   
Sunday, November 22, 2015 10:22 PM

After World War I the world continued to change. Before the Great Depression of 1929, the depression of 1920–21 greatly affected the country.  An extremely sharp deflationary recession in the United States and other countries lasted from January 1920 to July 1921.  In 1921 Adolf Hitler became Führer of the Nazi Party, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the world's first officially Communist state, was formed.  

The chiropractic world was also changing.  The Texas Chiropractic College continued to educate and prepare Doctors of Chiropractic for practice. Graduating from Texas Chiropractic College on January 5, 1921, Harvey Wright Watkins, mid-way through his teenage years, became the youngest person to earn a DC degree from an organized chiropractic college.  The first state-wide public relations program for chiropractic in Texas came about when the Texas State Chiropractic Association decided in 1921 to ethically advertise for the profession.  Chiropractic doctors were signed up to donate 1/26th of their monthly gross to an advertising fund.  Even though 1921 was a deep depression year and the economy lagged, most Texas chiropractors supported the program, and enough money was raised to place regular ads in 38 newspapers across Texas. 

History: The First World War Years
Written by Chris Dalrymple, DC   
Wednesday, November 18, 2015 12:40 PM

Following its 1910 publication, in 1911, the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association, using the standards of the Flexner report, gave Baylor Medical School a B rating.  It was some five years before the school attained an A rating.

Another early doctor of chiropractic in the state, Joe E. Busby, D.C.was  attending the Boone School school in Plainview since 1909, a certified physical medicine school.  He graduated in March, 1912, practiced a few months in Post, Texas, and then enrolled in the Texas Chiropractic College in San Antonio, under the administration of Dr. J. N. Stone. After being given full credit for his work in the school at Plainview, he was admitted to the senior class of Texas' Chiropractic college and graduated in December, 1912.  In 1913 Joe E. Busby D.C. joins with Dr. A. W. Canfil in the establishment of the historic Sweetwater Mineral Wells Sanatorium. 

History: Schooling in the 20th Century
Written by Chris Dalrymple, DC   
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 10:20 PM

The year 1909 found a future Keeler Plaque recipient, Joe E. Busby, in Lockney, Texas near Plainview.  He had first been exposed to chiropractic in 1907 through a Dr. Teems of Sherman, Texas. Dr. Busby enrolled in the Boone School of Massage and Physiotherapy, a chartered Texas Institution whose graduates were legalized practitioners in the state.  The President of the school was Dr. S. L. Boone, a graduate of Physical Medicine with study in Stockholm, Sweden.  Dr. A. W. Canfil, a graduate of National College of Chiropractic in Chicago, was secretary and Dr. R. B. Longmier, M.D. and Dr. J. D. Burleson, D.C. were members of the faculty. Dr. J. D. Burleson D.C., was personally acquainted with and greatly admired Dr. D. D. Palmer and graduated from the Wichita College of Chiropractic, Wichita, Kansas.

It was in 1909 that the Carnegie Foundation commissioned Abraham Flexner to visit medical schools and write a report on the status of medical education in the United States and Canada.  It stressed the need to link medical schools with universities and heavily emphasized the need for scientific research and the application of the “fruits” of this research to medical practice, and proclaimed the biological sciences as the knowledge base for the practice of medicine.

With the Flexner Report in hand, a healthy nod from the American Medical Association (AMA) and its close partner, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), along with the financial backing of Carnegie and Rockefeller, medical education reform was in full swing by 1910.  One medical doctor stated that the combination of the monies from the Rockefeller Foundation  and the influence of the AMA and AAMC virtually gave birth to  the strongest professional monopoly in the United States – Organized Medicine.

Centennial History: Chiropractors Jailed
Written by Editor   
Saturday, November 07, 2015 12:00 AM

While many people are aware that we chiropractors have been fighting uphill battles with the Paramount Powers of Mainstream Medicine since day one, most people are unaware that often meant going to jail on behalf of our profession during the first half of the twentieth century.


It all really began in the early 1900’s — a case of big time philanthropy gone sour.  In an effort to help improve the standards of medical education and its emphasis on science, the Carnegie Foundation in 1909 commissioned Abraham Flexner to visit medical schools and write a report on the status of medical education in the United States and Canada.  The report found that many of the schools were substandard.  It stressed the need to link medical schools with universities and heavily emphasized the need for scientific research and the application of the “fruits” of this research to medical practice.  In addition, it proclaimed the biological sciences as the knowledge base for the practice of medicine.  Apparently, the report was so attractively presented, that the Rockefeller Foundation decided to jump aboard to help bring about its implementation through the funding of additional grants.

History:  The Turn of the Last Century; The First Decade
Written by Chris Dalrymple, DC   
Thursday, November 05, 2015 05:59 PM

At the turn of the last century the chiropractic profession, and the medical attacks upon it, were greatly augmented.  1901 saw D. D. Palmer teaching 5 chiropractic students and the Palmer School of Magnetic Cure change its name to "Dr. Palmer's Chiropractic School & Cure.” 

1901 also saw the American Medical Association reorganized so that "the county society is the initial unit and … portal of entry to membership in both the State and national bodies.”  The AMA notes that “there is but one recognized county society in a county and but one State association in a State in affiliation with the national organization.”  It also notes that “in almost every State of the Union there are physicians who have continued to be listed as members of the American Medical Association, although they are not members of the local society or of the State Society in affiliation with the American Medical Association.”  The AMA notified "every physician in the different States who was not a legal member ... that his name would be dropped from the list of members if he did not become a member of an affiliated society on or before March 1, 1903.”  As a result of organized medicine’s demand, the Texas Medical Association grew dramatically reaching 2,415 by the 1903 deadline.

In 1901 the Medical Association of Texas renamed itself the State Medical Association of Texas.  Under pressure from this American Medical Association affiliated State Medical Association, the Texas legislature repealed all existing laws on medical practice and divided the field into three parts – medical, eclectic and homeopathic.  With this law the Texas legislature established the State Board of Medical Examiners.  The law specified "that no member shall be a professor or teacher in any medical school,” effectively taking the power of medical licensure away from faculty members, sounding the death-knell of proprietary schools.

In 1902 B. J. Palmer graduated Palmer Chiropractic School at age 20 and D. D. decided to go to the Pacific Coast moving all furnishings from his 21 room Sanitarium to Portland, Oregon.  In June of that same year he relocated to Southern California.  The young Dr. Palmer grasped the reins as “manager," garnered a loan for the school and in the next few years returned the institution to profitability.

History:  Into the 20th Century
Written by Chris Dalrymple, DC   
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 12:00 AM

At the end of the 19th century medical care was based upon the thought that disease was the result of poison and that the poison should be removed by bloodletting and purging. Liberal doses of calomel frequently brought death, but the belief in their value persisted. Complaints about physicians were common, and during the antebellum period the quality of medical education in the United States was poor.

Medical schools fell into two categories, university and proprietary. They offered a similar curriculum and faced the same difficulties, but because of their dependence on student fees proprietary schools were commonly known as diploma mills. Usually no premedical training was required, and laboratories and libraries were seldom available. The apprentice system was used and young men learned the art of healing by studying a "winter or two" with an established practitioner.

History:  1876 to 1890 the Gilded Age
Written by Chris Dalrymple, DC   
Monday, November 02, 2015 12:00 AM

The Gilded Age is a term coined by Mark Twain used to describe the time from 1870s to about 1900.  In his work The Gilded Age: a Tale of Today Twain satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thing gold lining.  The gilded age was an era of rapid economic growth.  The rapid expansion of industrialization led to real wage growth of 60% between 1860 and 1890, despite the ever-increasing labor force.   Railroads were the major industry, but the factory system, mining, and finance increased in importance. Immigration led to the rapid growth of the West, based on farming, ranching and mining.  

After the American Civil War the South remained economically devastated its economy tied to cotton and tobacco production suffered from low prices and rising costs.

The Gilded Age was also the time when the science of chiropractic was founded and developed.

History:  Medicine in the Victorian Era, Part II
Written by Chris Dalrymple, DC   
Saturday, October 31, 2015 11:00 PM

Anson Jones M.D. declined his candidacy for the vice presidency of the Republic of Texas in the election of 1841. Sam Houston was elected, however, and again became president of the Republic.

Both Houston and Jones later claimed to have devised the foreign policy pursued by Texas agreeing to get an offer of annexation from the United States or to get an acknowledgment of Texas independence from Mexico.  In the 1944 election Jones was elected president of the Republic of Texas and he took office on December 9, 1844.

During his term of office in 1845  Jones promised to obtain from Mexico recognition of Texas independence.  He delayed calling the Texas Congress or a convention into session. Public sentiment for annexation by the United States, coupled with a resentment against Jones steadily grew. He was burned in effigy, and threats were made to overthrow his government, but he remained silent until his envoy returned from Mexico with a treaty of recognition from Mexico.

It was on March 7, 1845, that D. D. Palmer was born in what is now Ontario, Canada.  Palmer will become the “Father of Chiropractic” 50 years from his birth.

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