Chapter 1: History of Chiropractic


1.1    Brief History of Spinal Manipulation

The historical usage of spinal manipulation in small scale communities, Asian civilizations, ancient western civilizations and throughout Europe from antiquity to the 19th century has been documented by chiropractic scholars as they sought to trace the possible historical origins that influenced the founding of chiropractic. [1]

Ultimately though, Chiropractic emerged in the USA during the final years of the 19th century, a period which is recognised as a time of great change, with massive developments occurring in science, technology and social organization. [2]

1.2    The Birth of Chiropractic and the Palmers

Daniel David Palmer – The Founder of Chiropractic- “Old Dad Chiro” [2][3]

Chiropractic traces its origins to a specific time and place- September 18, 1895 in Davenport, Iowa, USA.  The Founder of Chiropractic was Daniel David (“D.D.”) Palmer, who was known as a “magnetic” healer in Burlington, Iowa as he believed that he had a personal excess of vital magnetic energy.  D.D. Palmer offered his services to many patients who were wary of the orthodox medicine available at that time.  He operated his clinic in Burlington and later in Davenport, Iowa (where he relocated in 1887).  Dr. Palmer liked controversy and he broadcasted his views on medicine by means of a newspaper-sized advertiser (known as The Educator, then The Magnetic Cure, and then The Chiropractic) which reached thousands in Davenport and surrounding communities.

D.D. was born just west of Toronto in rural Ontario on 7 March 1845. He received formal education up until the sixth grade, but he was well-read in a variety of subjects, including spiritualism, vitalism and the mechanical and biological sciences of his day.  Through his nine years of clinical experience and theorizing, D.D. came to the conclusion that inflammation was the essential characteristic of all disease.  Palmer sought to locate the inflammation in his patients with his fingers.  His treatment included pouring his excess of personal magnetic energy into the site of inflammation so as to cool it off. By 1895, D.D. had decided that the cause of inflammations, and hence of all or most “dis-ease,” were displacements of anatomic structures.  Thus in order to prevent the development of inflamed tissue, D. D. Palmer sought to manually reposition the parts of the body. The first recipient of this new strategy was a janitor who worked in the building where Palmer had his practice.  The aforementioned patient Harvey Lillard reported in the January 1897 issue of The Chiropractic that:

“I was deaf 17 years and I expected to always remain so, for I had doctored a great deal without any benefit. I had long ago made up my mind to not take any more ear treatments, for it did me no good. Last January Dr. Palmer told me that my deafness came from an injury in my spine. This was new to me; but it is a fact that my back was injured at the time I went deaf. Dr. Palmer treated me on the spine; in two treatments I could hear quite well. That was eight months ago. My hearing remains good. Harvey Lillard, 320 W. Eleventh St., Davenport, Iowa (Palmer 1897)”. [2]

After this first informal experiment, Palmer was delighted and extended his “magnetic treatment” manipulations to patients with a variety of other health-related problems, reporting good results. He started to teach his new method of treatment at a school that became known informally as Palmer’s School of Chiropractic (PSC) in the summer of 1896.

Within two years Dr. Palmer opened the first school of Chiropractic on Brady Street in Davenport. In 1904, DD and his son Bartlett Joshua (BJ) operated the school together and it was his son, Dr. BJ Palmer, who continued the school after the death of DD.  BJ, more so than DD is given credit today for growing and developing the profession into what it has become today. It was the son, BJ Palmer, who began accepting the use of technology such as X-rays within chiropractic care.  In 1906 DD was tried, convicted and sentenced to 105 days in a Scott County jail or a fine of $350 for practicing medicine without a license.  DD went to jail on principle, insisting that he was not practicing medicine when he practiced chiropractic. After 23 days DD Palmer finally paid the fine and was released.  Subsequent to this he sold the Palmer school to his son, BJ Palmer.  He established numerous schools of chiropractic throughout the USA, of note is the D.D. Palmer College of Chiropractic, he established in 1908 in Portland, Oregon.  It was during his time in Portland that DD authored his classic, thousand-page volume, The Chiropractor’s Adjuster: the Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic, which was published in 1910.  DD Palmer died of typhoid fever in Los Angeles in 1913.  DD Palmer’s lasting legacy is being recognized as the Founder of Chiropractic. [2], [3]

Further Reading- for more detailed academic analysis of the life of DD Palmer
Gielow V.  Old Dad Chiro: A biography of D.D Palmer, founder of Chiropractic. Davenport IA: Bawden brothers, 1981.
Gaucher- Peslherbe PL.  Chiropractic: Early concepts in their historical setting. Lombard: National College of Chiropractic, 1994
Wardwell WI.  Chiropractic: History and Evolution of a new profession.  St Louis: Mosby, 1992
Palmer DD: The Chiropractic’s Adjuster (1910), The Science, Art & Philosophy of Chiropractic (1910).

1.3    Barlett Joshua Palmer – The Developer of Chiropractic [2], [3]

Barlett Joshua Palmer, known as B.J. Palmer was born in What Cheer, Iowa in 1882. He famously became known as the “developer” of chiropractic.  Although he did not graduate from High School, he wrote more than 37 books, and for more than 50 years he edited two of chiropractic’s earliest periodicals.  He was also a dominant force in three chiropractic professional organizations. [3]

Challenges to B.J. came early in his adult life.  First he had to solve the Palmer school’s financial problems. He was able to secure financing for the Colleges approximately 8000 dollar debts and took on a personal style to appear older and went about developing his own clientele. [2] B.J. Palmer’s was the President of the Palmer School of Chiropractic from 1904 to 1961, and during that time he created an osteologic laboratory/museum roentgenology facilities that were among the best in the USA at that time. The B.J. Palmer Research Clinic was founded in 1935, and the college owned the Clearview sanatorium in Davenport  from 1951-1961. BJ is also credited with developing an instrument that recorded brain waves and can be viewed as a forerunner of the electroencephalograph. [3]

A turning point in the life of BJ Palmer was his introduction of the neurocalometer (NCM) device in 1924.  Created by Dr Dossa D. Evans the NCM was reported to help detect spinal subluxations. BJ went so far to say that it was unethical not to use the NCM. The NCM was only available from Palmer on a lease basis and was very expensive. B.J. espoused (and insisted upon leasing) the device so vigorously that many of his supporters became alienated.  The great launch of the NCM was at the 1924 Palmer Lyceum.  The NCM was not well received by many and marks the time of BJ’s decreasing influence on the profession. [2]

Among BJ’s greatest contribution to chiropractic was his on-going development of Chiropractic philosophy.  The philosophy of B.J. Palmer was primarily developed from DD Palmers vitalistic, life-force philosophy. Three main ideas are apparent in the BJ’s philosophy: (1) the “principle of chiropractic”, which gives a concise explanation of chiropractic practice. It is described as such, the adjustment removes the subluxation, which allows nerve function to be normalized, allowing the body to heal itself; (2) the “big idea”, a mystical concept which describes the innate intelligence as controlling a persons’ perfect function and therefore health. When the innate can express itself fully the body will perform perfectly. (3) a comprehensive and unique life view that included detailed descriptions of health, disease, chiropractic care, and related matters. Palmer died at his home in Sarasota, Florida, in May 1961. [3]

Further Reading- on the life and contribution of BJ Palmer
Keating JC. BJ of Davenport: the early years of Chiropractic.  Davenport, IA: Association for the history of chiropractic, 1994

1.4    Key Figures in Chiropractic History

The development of the profession was not only under the control and influence of the Palmer family and Palmer College of Chiropractic, many other individuals have done and continue to make major contributions to the development of the profession. We discuss some of these individuals here:

i.    Joseph Janse DDT, DC, ND, FACCR

Joseph Janse was the long time president of National College of Chiropractic and a leader in chiropractic education and the development of chiropractic science. Josiah (Joseph) Janse was born in 1909 in Middleburg, Netherlands and died in 1985. His family migrated to the United States in 1916 in pursuit of their Mormon values. Dr Janse performed missionary work for the Church in Germany in the 1930s. Subsequently his interest in chiropractic was prompted upon hearing lectures by leading chiropractors of the time, in particular William C. Schulze, M.D., D.C., then the president of the National College of Chiropractic (NCC). Janse earned his first degree – Doctor of Drugless Therapeutics (DDT) – in 1937. He completed the Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) and Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) from National College in 1938.  Following graduation he joined the faculty of national College, teaching subjects such as dissection.  Dr Janse become one of the Deans of the college and aided in the school’s conversion to non-profit status in 1941 before becoming the President in 1945.  He remained the President until 1983, a tenure of 38 years. Following his retirement he became President Emeritus of National, until his death.  

The accomplishments of Dr Janse throughout his career are vast and listed below are some of them:

  • Co-authored “Chiropractic principles and technic” in the late 1930s
  • Co-authored “The vertebral column- lifeline of the body” with Dr Fred Illi
  • Founder of the Council on Chiropractic Education in 1947; first secretary of CCE; President 1959-1961
  • Pushed the profession to establish the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners in 1962-63. In 1971 he achieved a first for a chiropractic school. He attained federally- recognised status for National College when the school was accredited by the New York State education department  
  • Acted as the spokesman for the profession when the CCE’s was seeking recognition by the U.S. Office of Education.
  • Renowned anatomist and certified as a radiologist.
  • Created a forum for the advancement of the science of chiropractic through the establishment of the Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT). [4][5][6][7]

ii.    Ralph W. Stephenson
Ralph Stephenson is the author of the published in 1927. Within this book Stephenson wrote of 33 chiropractic principles such as innate and the meric system of mapping nerve distribution as well as summarizing BJ Palmers chiropractic philosophy. Stephenson is also known for the safety pin idea that provides an abstract representation of the nervous system. He was the author of three books in total, the “Chiropractic Textbook”, and “the art of chiropractic”, both published in 1927 and “system of adjusting the spine”, published in 1954. [3]

Born in 1879 in Lincoln, Illinois, Stephenson went to Iowa State University before studying chiropractic at Palmer College, from which he graduated in 1921. He was later to become a philosophy and technique instructor at Palmer College. [3]

iii.    William David Harper
William Harper is the author of the textbook, “Anything can cause anything”, published in 1974 as well as the pamphlet “what is chiropractic?” Born in Big Spring, Texas in 1908, he studied engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 1933. He then went to Texas Chiropractic college (TCC), graduating in 1942. He entered private practice in Massachusetts from 1942 -1949. From 1949, he worked at TCC in academic and administration roles. He was the TCC president from 1966-1976. [3]

iv.    Willard Carver
Willard Carver was a chiropractor and lawyer, born in Iowa state in 1866. He earned his law degree from Drake University in Iowa and practiced for 15 years. He knew DD Palmer from before the founding of chiropractic and thus he defended Palmer in 1903 when he was accused of practicing medicine without a license. Carver continued to act as a lawyer-advocate for the profession, before studying at the Charles Ray Parker school of chiropractic in 1906. He then opened the first Carver Chiropractic school in Oklahoma city in 1906. He also founded schools in New York City in 1919, Washington DC, in 1922 and Denver in 1923. In total he wrote 18 chiropractic books but his best known work, published in 1921 is “Carver’s Chiropractic Analysis.” [3]

v.    A. Earl Homewood
A. Earl Homewood, born in 1916 in Toronto, Canada was the President of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and Western States Chiropractic College. He was an author with publications including the “Neurodynamics of the Vertebral Subluxation”, “Chiropractic and care” and “Chiropractic and the Law”. His academic history was extensive with degrees of doctor of physical therapy in 1941 from the University of Natural Healing Arts in Denver, Colorado; doctor of chiropractic (1942) and bachelor of therapeutic arts (1948), both from Western States. He also had a degree in naturopathy (1953) from the Philadelphia College of Naturopathy. Finally he had a law degree from Chicago’s Blackstone School of Law, graduating in 1960. [3]

vi.    Fred W. Illi
Fred Illi received his chiropractic degree from the Universal Chiropractic College of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1927. Illi was born in 1901 in Switzerland and became the founder-director of a clinical biomechanics institute in Geneva. In 1951, he published the findings in his text “The Vertebral column, life-line of the body”. [3]

vii.    Henry J. Gillet
Henry Gillet was a 1928 Graduate of Palmer School of Chiropractic, after which he set up practice in Belgium, where he worked for 48 years. Gillet was born on May 23, 1907 in Winnipeg, Canada and was to become known throughout the chiropractic profession as an author, researcher and lecturer. He developed numerous chiropractic theories based on anatomy and biomechanics. In 1952, he coined the term “fixation” to describe the clinical entity that chiropractors deal with. [3]

1.5    History of Chiropractic around the World    


In Europe, Chiropractic is said to have started only about 50 years. Although each European country has taken its own chiropractic path it has gradually became necessary to regulate the profession in some manner. The current situation is that while waiting for common legislation for the profession throughout the EU, chiropractic is practiced under specific legislation in some countries such as Denmark, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland and Belgium. And in other countries chiropractic is regulated under common law; and in still other countries, like Italy, there are de facto local regulations, administrative rules, or court-stated guidelines. France is perhaps the country that presents the most complicated situation, where chiropractors are still brought to court for “practicing medicine without a license” and medical doctors are able to practice chiropractic. Spain has also shown the same intolerance to chiropractic as France. [8]

The “COST B4” project involving 13 countries was set up by a European commission to study unconventional medicine in Europe, including chiropractic. The project examined the cost of care, social and cultural matters and also the therapeutic benefits. [8]

The European Parliament, in May 1997 passed some laws on nonconventional medicine to ensure there is freedom of therapeutic choice and proper co-ordination of the various disciplines.. Special regard Chiropractic received special attention to maintain quality of training and patient safety. [8] 


The European Chiropractors Union (ECU) has a somewhat longer history, originating in London in 1932. Formed by members from Great Britain, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland, there are now 20 national associations as members. [9] It is claimed that the formation of the ECU is one of the great milestones in chiropractic history. [10] The ECU struggled to keep together during WWII and after, with its’ members getting older, it only met again in 1951. [11] The first meeting of the Association for the History of Chiropractic held in Europe, was conducted in Portugal in May 2007 in conjunction with the WFC conference and ECU 75th Anniversary celebrations. [11]


ProChiropractic Europe is an international body composed of ProChiropractic Associations from European countries. It was formed in Paris in 1966, although at that time is was known as the European Federation of ProChiropractic, (EFPC). ProChiropractic organisations are composed of patients that have benefited from chiropractic care and wish to assist with promoting access to chiropractic. The following countries all have a Prochiropractic Association: Denmark, England, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland. Prochiropractic Europe represents at the European level and the country associations act on the national level. Denmark is the oldest body, established in 1920. [12]


a.    United Kingdom

In the UK, the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) is the largest and longest-standing association for chiropractors. Founded in 1925, it now has more than 50% of the UK’s registered chiropractors as their members. The BCA was a founding member of both the European Chiropractors Union and the World Federation of Chiropractic. [13]

In 1994 in Britain “The Chiropractors Act 1994” was passed which gives statutory regulation of the profession and protects the use of the title ‘chiropractor’. [13]

b.     Belgium

In 1923 Chiropractic was introduced to Belgium by Dr. Jules Gillet, who opened a practice in Brussels. [14] In 1932 the European Chiropractic Union was established with the co-operation of Belgian, Swiss, and British chiropractors. [10] The Belgian Chiropractic Union was formed in Jan 1946. The battles toward legal recognition have been led by the Belgian Chiropractors Union since its conception.  In 1994, 213,000 signatures were collected in a petition for recognition, but it was not until April 1999 that chiropractic was legally recognized under Belgian law. [14]

c.    Denmark

In 1920, the first chiropractic office was opened in Copenhagen. In 1925, the chiropractors formed the Danish Chiropractic Association (DKF). By 1992, 72 years after the first chiropractic office was opened in Denmark, the chiropractic profession had made steady progress toward acceptance by the government and the general population. Chiropractors in Denmark received their official authorization from the Danish health authorities in 1992. Two years later, Odense University began offering a chiropractic education program. [15]

d.    Switzerland

The history of chiropractic in Switzerland is unique in a number of ways. The first chiropractor was Hermine Fagan-Linder (1919) and the second Ida Gerber (1927). It is notable they are both women. Secondly, through clever political working the chiropractors were able to avoid having their practice available only on a medical referral basis [16]. In 1964 a chiropractic article was included unanimously in the insurance law by the Swiss Parliament that allowed access to and reimbursement for chiropractic services. Chiropractic established itself in the country through the progressively adoption of cantonal regulations. This process started in the mid-1930s in Lucerne and Zurich [16], [17]. More recently in 2007, chiropractors were recognized as medical personnel and included in regulatory legislation. Education for Chiropractors at the University of Zurich started in 2008. [17], [18]

e.    France

The year 1920 marked the arrival of the first chiropractor in France. In 1983, the Institut Francais de Chiropractie (IFC) was established and in 1996 it received accreditation from European Council on Chiropractic Education (ECCE). In 1997, the IFC bought a new building. [19]

(Further information about Chiropractic throughout Europe can be found in Legislation, Education and Professional Bodies/ Organisations.)


A.    South Africa

In the early 1920’s the first Chiropractors arrived in South Africa, Later, in 1939, the Payne brothers formed the first association known as the South African Manipulative Practitioners Association or SAMPA. It later became the Pan-African Chiropractor’s Association (PACA). The South African Chiropractor’s Association (SACA) was formed in 1952 by Dr. Josh Haldeman. The current Chiropractic Association of South Africa (CASA) formed in 1971 from the merger of PACA and SACA. [20]

Various attempts were made over the years to discredit the profession and restrict its’ growth. They included a Commission of Inquiry without any chiropractic presence and closing the Chiropractic Register in 1971. Following 7 years of protest from CASA, the Minister of Health asked for submissions from CASA about Chiropractic and allowed rebuttals to the earlier biased ‘Commission of Enquiry’. After deliberation, CASA gave a presentation about the  incorporation of Chiropractic into the South African Medical and Dental Council (SAMDC). The final vote was 17-16 against which allowed for a separate piece of Chiropractic legislation to be formulated. [20]

Another commission of enquiry known as the Steenkamp Report showed a high level of Chiropractic usage which led to chiropractic recognition. The statutory body “Chiropractors, Homeopaths and Allied Health Services Professions Council” formed in 1982 established Chiropractic into law. [20]

In 1985 Chiropractic Registration was re-opened allowing for the profession to grow. The first Chiropractic program at Technikon Natal started in 1989. [20]

(Further information about Chiropractic throughout Africa can be found in articles on Legislation, Education and Professional Bodies/ Organisations)


A.    Canada

Dr. Almeda Haldeman is considered to be Canada’s first Chiropractor. She established a practice in Herbert, Saskatchewan in 1907. [21] Licensing of Chiropractic starts in Alberta in 1923, closely followed by Ontario in 1925. However it took until 1992 for the last province Newfoundland to license chiropractic. [22]

The Dominion Council of Canadian Chiropractors was founded in Jan 1943 by chiropractors from across the country, it would later be known as the Canadian Chiropractic Association from 1953 onwards. The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College was launched on Sep 18, 1945. [23] From 1962 to 1973, there were numerous public commissions which showed the importance of chiropractic and paved the way for chiropractic inclusion within insurance plans. [23]

In 1993, the Manga report, a government commissioned study on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of chiropractic care recommends a major role for chiropractic in back pain. [22]

(Further information about Chiropractic throughout North & South America can be found in articles on Legislation, Education and Professional Bodies/ Organisations)


a. Australia

The first chiropractor to practice in Australia was Dr. Barbara Brake, who established a practice in Melbourne, Victoria in 1905. [24]

There are considered to be four periods of development in Australian chiropractic. They are, firstly, the establishment period from 1918-1953 involving UK trained osteopaths, American trained chiropractors and the formation of some chiropractic associations; Secondly a period of expansion from 1954-1961 which saw numerous chiropractors training both locally and overseas; Thirdly, a period of agitation from 1961-1973 which produced the Western Australian Chiropractors’ Act of 1964 and chiropractic coverage in private health insurance plans; and finally a period of legitimation thereafter in which registration for both chiropractors occurred throughout Australia. [25]

b. New Zealand

The first chiropractors in New Zealand established their practices in the 1920s. [26] During the 1930s the New Zealand Chiropractors Association (NZCA) was formed. [27]

Chiropractic legislation was passed in 1961, with the first chiropractors registered in the same year. [26] During the 1970s a government commission of inquiry was launched to examine chiropractic. [26] In 1979, “Chiropractic in New Zealand”, was published. This was the full report of the NZ Commission of Inquiry into Chiropractic. It is notable as the first government enquiry to use full judicial procedure, with evidence heard under oath and cross-examination. Information about the role of chiropractic was presented to the commission by patients, chiropractors, medical professionals and other interested parties. The Commission’s report had a large impact internationally as it not only strongly endorsed chiropractic it also called for greater cooperation with the medical community. [22]

(Further information about Chiropractic throughout Asia-Pacific can be found in articles on Legislation, Education and Professional Bodies/ Organisations.)


1.6.1    NORTH AMERICA    

A.    United States of America


From 1926 to 1971, the Lincoln Chiropractic College was admired as one of the academically strongest institutions of learning in the chiropractic world. It was formed after B.J. Palmer, D.C.’s introduction of the neurocalometer (NCM). The Lincoln Chiropractic College eventually dissolved into the National College of Chiropractic, its name retained in derivative forms, such as the National-Lincoln School of Postgraduate Education and the independent Lincoln College Education & Research Fund, Inc.

The founders of Lincoln were well known as early pioneers of the profession. All of them were graduates of the Palmer School of Chiropractic (PSC): Harry E. Vedder, D.C. (1910), James Firth, D.C. (1912), Stephen J. Burich, D.C. (1913) and Arthur Heinrichs (later known as Hendricks), D.C (1920). Each had an outstanding reputation as instructors of the PSC, and each was considered a ‘core’ faculty member, frequently contributing to the chiropractic literature. Harry Vedder was an instructor in physiology and author of the Textbook on Chiropractic Physiology, Textbook on Chiropractic Gynaecology and Chiropractic Advertising. Stephen J. Burich, a graduate of Beloit College, was considered by B.J. Palmer as the ’final authority on matters pertaining to the nervous system.’ Burich was the Author of the Textbook of Chiropractic Chemistry and co-author of a manual of adjustment techniques. James Firth was a graduate of the Arenac County Normal College and was a school teacher and principal before studying at Palmer in 1911, where he taught palpation and nerve tracing, physiology and symptomatology. He authored the Textbook on Chiropractic Symptomatology (later retitled Chiropractic Diagnosis). Arthur Hendricks had been in the U.S. Navy in World War I following business school studies. A 1920 graduate of PSC in 1920, he lectured in anatomy, orthopaedics, gynaecology and diagnosis after joining Lincoln. [28]

Founded in 1908, Texas Chiropractic College is the fourth-oldest of all the chiropractic colleges in the United States. It was established as an innovative school since its program included some courses such as anatomy dissection, pathology studies in the laboratory and x-ray and dietary training. In 1965, TCC moved from San Antonio to Pasadena, Texas, because of a substantial growth. A preceptorship program launched in 1976, was the first-of-its-kind and offered students a special clinical practice experience.

In 1985, the College’s ‘Hospital Rotation Program’ opened, allowing TCC students to work in local hospitals alongside medical specialists. TCC kept on growing through the 1990s constructing four new academic buildings within an eight-year period. [29]

Drs. C.S. Cleveland Sr. Ruth R. Cleveland and Perl B. Griffin founded Central Chiropractic College in Kansas City in 1922. Its first doctor of chiropractic graduated in 1924. The original place was a converted residence that was used as both, as college facility and as home of Dr. Carl Sr., Dr. Ruth and young son Carl S. Cleveland Jr. Dr. C.S. Cleveland Sr.

In late 1922 the college became a non-profit, ’benevolent association,’ and changed to its name in 1924 to the Cleveland Chiropractic College. Dr. Cleveland Sr. moved to Los Angeles in 1951 to operate the Ratledge College which he ran until 1982. The Ratledge College became the Cleveland Chiropractic College of Los Angeles in 1955. [30]

Dr. Tullius de Florence Ratledge who was a graduate from the Carver-Denny School in Oklahoma City, established the Los Angeles branch of the Ratledge System of Chiropractic Schools in 1911. Upon graduation in 1907, he unsuccessfully attempted to get chiropractic licensure in Oklahoma, he then set up a free clinic in Guthrie for state assembly members and their families. In 1908, he created the first of at least four branches of the Ratledge System of Chiropractic Schools in Guthrie, and also opened schools in Arkansas City, Kansas and Kansas Topeka.

Upon establishment of Ratledge System of Chiropractic Schools in 1916, he was imprisoned for 90 days in the Los Angeles County Jail for practicing medicine illegally. His self-sacrifice for the principles of chiropractic inspired the first favorable press for the beleaguered chiropractic profession which ultimately led to the passage of California’s chiropractic law by referendum in 1922.

In 1955, Ratledge College in Los Angeles was relaunched as Cleveland Chiropractic College of Los Angeles. As the chiropractic profession moves into the 21st century, Cleveland Chiropractic College continues to grow and develop in keeping with the vision of its pioneers. [30]

New York Chiropractic College (NYCC) was founded in 1919 in New York City as Columbia Institute of Chiropractic by Dr. Frank Dean. He was the first president serving for nearly 40 years. During the 1950’s, NYCC grew when it merged with Columbia College of Chiropractic and Atlantic States Chiropractic Institute. In 1959, Dr. Ernest Napolitano was named President. He served as president until 1985, a time when NYCC had achieved national prominence. In 1980, NYCC moved to Old Brookville, Long Island, and opened clinics in Greenvale and Levittown. [31]

Five years later, it was awarded regional accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. That same year, Dr. Napolitano was succeeded by Dr. Neil Stern as acting president from 1985-87 and Dr. Keith Asplin, president from 1987-89. In 1989, NYCC purchased the former Eisenhower College campus in Seneca Falls as it was unable to expand in its Long Island location. Dr. Kenneth Padgett appointed president. His motto of ’Tradition in Transition’ in the 1990s lead to major facility and technology upgrades at NYCC. In 1991, Seneca Falls campus opened on a 286-acre site and the chiropractic health center opened in Syracuse as Greenvale center closed. In 1992, the ’Ernest G. Napolitano’ Postgraduate Center opened. This 5,000 square-foot annex adjoins the Levittown center, provides a home for the College’s postgraduate and continuing education programs’. The third chiropractic health center of NYCC was opened in 1994, near Buffalo. Additional classroom and laboratory space for the students was built on the Seneca Falls campus in the form of a 9,300 square-foot building which now houses a research and video teleconferencing center. In 1998, a new 38,000 square-foot academic building was opened, featuring lecture halls and offices equipped with advanced instructional technology. The following year NYCC expanded 17,200-square foot Depew Chiropractic Health Center debuts. [31]

Dr. Frank Nicchi, became President of NYCC in 2000. Two years later, an absolute Charter from NYS Board of Regents was amended to allow the College to offer new degrees in Bachelor of Professional Studies and Masters of Science. In 2003, the Seneca Falls Health Center, a 19,400 square-foot multidisciplinary integrated healthcare facility was opened. The same year, the former Seneca Falls Health Center was designated as the Campus Health Center which serving as internship site and established to meet the healthcare needs of the campus community and low-income residents (Syracuse center closed). Also, two new master’s degree programs in Acupuncture (M.S.A) and Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (M.S.A.O.M.) were approved by NYS Education Department and were offered for the first time. [31]

D’Youville College is located in Buffalo, New York. It was chartered by New York State in 1908. D’Youville offers health-related profession programs at both undergraduate and post graduate levels, as well as masters, doctoral programs and advanced certificates. The Doctor of Chiropractic is a seven-year program in in this college. [32] The course is the first in New York State to “mainstream” chiropractic education as part of a  standard accredited multi-disciplinary college., It is the second in the USA after the University of Bridgeport. [33]

Life Chiropractic College West which was known as Pacific States Chiropractic College traces its founding date to 1976. During 1976 and 1977, Pacific States began the process of developing an educational institution and preparing the College to receive its first class of students.

In March 1981 the College became Life Chiropractic College West following agreement between the Board of Pacific College and Life College. This came about due to economic and institutional problems. The President of Life West was Dr. Gerry Clum for 30 years until 2011. The current President is New Zealander Dr. Brian Kelly. [34]

Life University was founded in 1974 by Dr Sid E Williams as a chiropractic college. Its’ first class was launched in 1975 with 22 students. Within 15 years it had become the largest chiropractic school producing thousands of graduates. [35]

Dr Hugh B Logan founded Logan Chiropractic College in St. Louis in 1935. The College was relocated to Chesterfield, Missouri in 1973. [36]

Southern California University of Health Sciences began in 1911 as the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic. It changed its name following the opening of the school’s College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in 2000. [37]

Dr. Charles Cale was the founder of the college in 1911, within 5 years the college took over the Eclectic College of Chiropractic and after 11 years the college moved to a larger campus. [36]

Over the following 28 years, the college continued to improve its’ curriculum and expand. LACC took over numerous institutions including the Golden State College of Chiropractic, Cale Chiropractic College; and numerous others. In 1981, LACC was able to acquire a 38 acre campus in Whittier, California. Towards the end of the 20th Century, LACC joined with the College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to become the Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) [37]

National University of Health Sciences (NUHS), which was also known as the National School of Chiropractic, traces its founding date to 1906, in Davenport, Iowa. Founded by John Fitz Alan Howard, D.C., in 1908, it moved to Chicago in order to access a more thorough scientific academic culture. NUHS was chartered and incorporated at its first home, 1732 W. Congress St., under the laws of the State of Illinois.

The name was changed to National College of Chiropractic in 1920 as the School moved location to a five-story building. In 1963 the college moved to Lombard, Illinois to a 20 acres campus.

The college is the publisher of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics – since 1978.
The National College of Chiropractic gradually developed into a university concept between 1993 and September 2000, when it officially changed its name to ‘National University of Health’. From 2008, NUHS has worked with the St. Petersburg College in Florida to offer the chiropractic degree in Florida. [38]

Northwestern College of Chiropractic (NWCC) was founded in 1941 by John B. Wolfe, D.C., NWCC had within its’ curriculum many courses that are now considered essential in a chiropractic curriculum. During Dr Wolfe’s 43 years’ of tutelage, NWCC emphasised on anatomy and physiology. Later in 1946, Dr. J. LaMoine De Rusha arrived at Northwestern and his expertise in neurology and anatomy lead to further enhancement of Northwestern’s reputation.

The college transferred to a larger facility on Park Avenue in Minneapolis in 1949. By 1965, NWCC set the requirement for their chiropractic students to complete two years of college at a University of Minnesota accredited school before sitting for the basic science exam. Up until 1968, no other chiropractic college instituted a pre-professional program.

In the late 1960s, the college enhanced its programs and facilities including improvement of the college’s outpatient clinic which also acted as diagnostic center for chiropractors practicing in the region.

Thanks to the efforts made by the NWCC since 1970 when it adopted a new systems-oriented curriculum requiring chiropractic students to take basic science courses. And later on in the same year, the college established a new chiropractic curriculum designed to meet the higher academic qualifications of entering students – after finishing a minimum of two years of college with emphasis on sciences. In 1971, the first chiropractic college in the country to receive accreditation from the Council on Chiropractic Education was Northwestern. [39]

Dr Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer, chiropractic’s founder opened the Palmer School and Cure (later known as the Palmer School of Chiropractic) in Davenport in 1897.

Dr. Bartlett Joshua (BJ) Palmer took over the running of Palmer in 1904. B.J. died in 1961, and the presidency of Palmer passed to his son, Dr. David Daniel Palmer. He was known as Dr. Dave, and he changed the name of Palmer School of Chiropractic to Palmer College of Chiropractic (PCC). He obtained nonprofit status for the College and helped form the PCC International Alumni Association. [40]

Parker University was initially the Parker College of Chiropractic and was named in honour of Dr. James William Parker who founded the college.

On March 1978, Parker College was chartered by the State of Texas and later received its non-profit IRS status in October 1978. The college opened officially on September 12, 1982 (Dr Parker’s 62nd Birthday) in Irving. The first graduation was in Sep 1985.

The college moved to Dallas in 1989 after experiencing much growth. The original campus in Irving campus was converted to a ‘Chiropractic Wellness Center’ for patients and is still in use.

In April 2011, Parker College became Parker University allowing it to offer other health related degrees. [41]

The Sherman College of Chiropractic is named for Dr. Sherman who was a former assistant director of the B.J Palmer Chiropractic Research Clinic. The college was established on January 11, 1973 by Dr. Thom Gelardi. [42]

The University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic (UBCC) was created in 1990 as the first University-based Chiropractic program in the USA. Prior to this the University of Bridgeport had supported chiropractic education by offering pre-chiropractic studies. The inaugural class started in 1991 following some renovations at the University in particular, a new human anatomy dissection laboratory was made. In 1993, the UBCC was accredited by the Connecticut Department of Higher Education; and in 1994, by the Council on Chiropractic Education. That same year in December, ten students were the first class to graduate from UBCC. To date, over 900 doctors of chiropractic are graduates from the College. [43]

The University Of Western States has a long history in chiropractic education that started in Portland in 1904, when Drs. John and Eva Marsh founded Marshes’ School and Cure which became Pacific College of Chiropractic in 1909, and then became Western States College in 1932 after being reorganized. It is considered to have the 2nd oldest chiropractic program in the world.

The College moved to the Southeast of Portland in 1946, and in 1967 it changed its name to Western States Chiropractic College (WSCC). It again moved in 1973 to its current campus towards the north of Portland.
From 2010 the University Of Western States arose from WSCC, allowing for a broader range of health care courses to be taught on the campus. [44]


The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) is a Canadian chiropractic institute founded in 1945 by and for chiropractors. It officially opened on 18 Sep 1945. It is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. [45]

The University of Quebec [Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR)] gained approval for a chiropractic course In November 1992. The course is a five-year degree, taught in French. The first intake of students was in Sep 1993. [46] UQTR became an institutional member of the Canadian Research Consortium in the late 1990s. [47]



There is a chiropractic program in Mexico that is conducted at the Universidad Estatal del Valle de Ecatepec (UNEVE). It is the first chiropractic program conducted in Spanish in a University. The university itself is a state university in Ecatepec in to the north of Mexico City.

The chiropractic programme was formulated with the assistance of Northwestern Health Sciences University in the 1990s. The Parker College of Chiropractic is now a partner. The approval for the course was agreed with the Ministry of Education in late 2000 with the first students starting in September 2001. UEVE began this health science division with two career programs, one in chiropractic and the other in acupuncture. [48] [49]



The Feevale Central University (Centro Universitario Feevale) has run a chiropractic program since 1988, together with Palmer College. [50]

Universidade Anhembu Morumbi in São Paulo has provided a chiropractic course since the year 2000. It offers a five-year undergraduate program in association with Los Angeles, National, and Northwestern chiropractic colleges. [50]

1.6.3    EUROPE


The chiropractic program started in 1994 at the University of Southern Denmark (Odense). In 1994, Odense University began a three-year bachelor’s degree which in 1997 became a five-year fully state-funded chiropractic program. [51], [52] The clinical training component of the course has been conducted at the Spine clinic in Ringe Hospital since 1998. [53]


In 1983, the Institut Franco- Europeen De Chiropratique (IFEC) opened its doors in Paris. ’L’Institut Français de Chiropratique‘ was created by the ’Association pour la Formation et l’Enseignement en France de la Chiropratique.’ The Institute also has a campus in Toulouse since 2006-7. [54]


i.    Barcelona College Of Chiropractic
In October 2009, the Barcelona College of Chiropractic (BCC) opened in Barcelona. The BCC teaches a bilingual course, in both Spanish and English. Dr. Adrian Wenban is the Director of the college. [55]

Founded in 1892 by Queen María Cristina of Hapsburg-Lorena, and run by the Augustinian religious order since that time, The Royal University Centre Escorial -María Cristina is also associated with the Complutense University of Madrid. [56] The first chiropractic school to open in Spain was at this University in 2007.  The course was established through the efforts of the Spanish Chiropractors Association (AEQ), and is based on the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic curriculum and meets the ECCE standards. [57] The first graduating class will receive their degrees on June 30, 2012. [56]


The University of Zurich has offered a chiropractic program within the Medical faculty since 2008. [58] It is the first chiropractic school in Switzerland. [59] Clinical training for the course is conducted at Balgrist University Hospital. [60]


The Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC) opened in September 1965. It was the first chiropractic school in Britain and Europe to be recognized. It is well supported by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) and internationally. In 1988 the college was the first school offering a validated degree in the field of complementary / alternative medicine in the United Kingdom. The Council for National Academic Awards validated its undergraduate program. In 2009 the college opened a new chiropractic teaching clinic. [61]

The University of Glamorgan is first UK to provide an undergraduate Masters chiropractic degree that is fully integrated. [62] The first group of students started their studies in September 1997. [63]

1.6.5    ASIA


Tokyo College of Chiropractic (TCC) was originally the RMIT University Chiropractic Unit Japan. The RMIT University Chiropractic Unit-Japan was established in 1995 and attained ACCE accreditation in 2005. [64]


i   International Medical University
The International Medical University was founded in 1992 in Malaysia as the International Medical College (IMC). It is Malaysia’s first private medical educational institution. IMC became a university in 1999. IMU launched a chiropractic program in February 2010, which is the only chiropractic program in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. [65]


Hanseo University was founded by Dr KeeSun Ham in 1991. In 1997 they opened the first school of chiropractic approved by the Korean government. The chiropractic program was first working with RMIT, but now partners with the University of Bridgeport College Of Chiropractic. In 2010 they attained accreditation from the CCEA. [66]

1.6.6    AUSTRALIA

Macquarie University was the first University to provide professional chiropractic education in 1990 when a Centre for Chiropractic was formed inside the School of Biological Sciences. . The course at Macquarie is the culmination of the chiropractic program that originally started at the Sydney College of Chiropractic in 1959. In 1990, the Sydney College joined Macquarie University. [67]

Murdoch University which is located in Perth was established in 1975 and named after Sir Walter Murdoch (1874-1970). [68] The course at Murdoch was the third program established in Australia with the first batch of students starting in February 2002. [69]

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) offers Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programs for Chiropractic. The University has been granted accreditation from the Council on Chiropractic Education. In 1975 the International College of Chiropractic was established in Melbourne as a private venture supported by the chiropractic profession. The Australian Government recognized the ICC program and provided funding for the course in 1980.. Thus the ICC was incorporated into the then Preston Institute of Technology, later Phillip Institute, and now RMIT. The course at RMIT was the first fully-government funded university-based chiropractic course in the world. [70]

1.6.7    NEW ZEALAND

The New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association (NZCA) launched the NZCA School of Chiropractic in 1994. In 2002 the name was changed to New Zealand College of Chiropractic. In 2005, the college received CCEA accreditation. A residency program in diagnostic imaging leading to a DACBR qualification has been offered since 2010. [71]


As indicated in our Introduction, there are a number of good Web-sites that provide concise and accurate History relating to the Chiropractic profession. The following resources are considered to be worthy of attention from any interested persons and of value to anyone engaged in serious research relating to the chiropractic profession.

  1. Palmer College of Chiropractic. History relating to both the Palmer family and the College.  
  2. American Chiropractic Association.  Some brief notes on the history of chiropractic and some background information for people seeking chiropractic care are carried on this site. Information is also available on Chiropractic Research, Back pain Facts and Statistics, Chiropractic Education, Health and Wellness Links and Library and Frequently Asked Questions.
  3. International Chiropractors Association. On this site the ICA Vision, Mission and Objectives are outlined along with its Historical Background, the association’s Best Practices and Practice Guidelines and its Code of Ethics and Policy Statements.
  4. Canadian Chiropractic Association. A very comprehensive ’Frequently Asked Questions‘ section is provided on website: It is explained that Chiropractic is a regulated health profession recognized by statute in all Canadian provinces and American states. Canadian chiropractors undergo an intensive four-year, full-time course of study following three years of university before qualifying to undertake national examinations and become licensed to practice.
  5. Chiropractors Association of Australia. The Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (National) Limited (CAA) is the peak body representing chiropractors in Australia. The History of the Association is well set out as is information relating to the  Australasian College of Chiropractors (ACC), which was established by the CAA National Board in 2006.
  6. British Chiropractic Association. This Web-site provides a concise history of both the early foundation of chiropractic and the establishment of the Association, which was founded in 1925. It also gives details on how the 20th century saw the growth and development of the profession worldwide, gaining recognition and respect for the place it has taken in the primary care environment. Mention is made on how influential research has underpinned the development of the profession and has come both from within and outside of the chiropractic research communities.
  7. Chiropractic History Time Line. This seven part documented material covers from the year 1844 until the year 2000. Much of the material brought together by Dr. Gary Farr, as he acknowledges, was obtained from Joseph C. Keating, Jr., Ph.D and his work on the Chiropractic History Archives. Dr. Gary Farr is the President and Founder of
  8. New Zealand Chiropractors’ AssociationThe Website of the NZCA presents an exceptionally well laid out volume of information on the history of chiropractic. It covers Ancient History [from 2000BC] Modern History [from 1895] and Chiropractic of Today. There are well designed Links for visitors to the site requiring information on other aspects of the Chiropractic profession.

Figure 1: Daniel David Palmer – The Founder of Chiropractic
Figure 2: Bartlett Joshua Palmer – The Developer of Chiropractic


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