Born in 1845 on the Ontario frontier, D.D. Palmer was on his own for much of his childhood. When Palmer was 11, a business failure forced his family to move to the United States; he and his younger brother stayed behind. The two boys worked in a factory until 1865, when they set out for Iowa - with two dollars between them - to rejoin their family.

For the next 20 years, Palmer moved around the Midwest, teaching in one-room schoolhouses, raising bees, selling raspberries and even opening a grocery store.

By the 1880s, Palmer's never-ending thirst for knowledge led him to learn magnetic healing. This therapy, which was commonly practiced in that era by many medical practitioners, used the body's magnetism to heal others. Palmer opened his first magnetic healing practice in Burlington, Iowa.

A year later, in 1887, Palmer moved to Davenport, Iowa, where he started another practice.


It was there, along the lush banks of the Mississippi River, amidst the wagons and buggies of late 19th century Davenport, that chiropractic was born on September 18, 1895. For it was on this day that D.D. Palmer made the first chiropractic adjustment on a janitor who worked in his office building.

On September 18, 1895, along the lush banks of the Mississippi River, amidst the wagons and buggies of late 19th century Davenport, Iowa, chiropractic was born.

David Daniel Palmer had opened an office, devoted to magnetic healing, in 1887. In Palmer's building, was a janitorial service, owned by Harvey Lillard. Lillard, who had been deaf for 17 years, was asked by Palmer how he had become deaf. Lillard replied that one day, when he had strained his back, he heard something "pop" in his back.

Palmer examined Lillard's back and found a spinal vertebrae out of position. Reasoning that this was the cause of Lillard's deafness, Palmer thrust the vertebrae back into place. And, as he expected, Lillard's hearing improved.

Palmer was sure he was on to something. He began developing a theory of what he later called "chiropractic", meaning "done by hand". Palmer theorized that decreased nerve flow may be the cause of disease, and that misplaced spinal vertebrae may cause pressure on the nerves. Thus, he reasoned, if the spinal column were correctly positioned, the body would be healthy.

Palmer decided to open a chiropractic school in 1897. By 1902, 15 people had graduated from the Palmer Infirmary and Chiropractic Institute, which was renamed the Palmer School of Chiropractic (PSC) in 1907. One of these graduates was Palmer's son, Bartlett Joshua (B.J.) Palmer, DC, who would become as memorable a figure in chiropractic history as his father.

D.D. began some travels to the West Coast, and little by little, B.J. took over running the daily activities of the school. He returned to Davenport by 1906, when he had to deal with some legal problems. Just as early medical doctors were not licensed by the government, neither were early chiropractors. These early chiropractors faced legal roadblocks until licensing legislation began passing in various states. However, the writing was on the wall, and the groundwork was laid, for the battle which was to face this young profession for years to come.


The turn of the century was a time of rapid change in health care as alternatives to traditional allopathic medicine arose, including chiropractic and osteopathy.

What first emerged from these changes was confusion.

As it happened with the early days of medicine, early chiropractors were not officially licensed by the government; chiropractors simply opened practices after graduating from chiropractic schools.

By that time, however, medical doctors were required to have licenses. This discrepancy caused continual problems for chiropractors throughout the first half of the 20th century.

In 1906, as D.D. returned to Davenport, he and other chiropractors were the first of hundreds of chiropractors convicted of practicing medicine without a license. He served 23 days of a 105-day sentence, then paid a $350 fine to be released.

A year later, one of Palmer's former students, Shegataro Morikubo, DC, was arrested in Wisconsin for practicing medicine, surgery and osteopathy without a license. However, in a landmark decision, the judge and jury agreed that Morikubo was not practicing medicine, surgery and osteopathy. Rather, he was practicing something different - chiropractic.


While D.D. was on trial for practicing without a license, B.J. officially took over PSC from 1902 to 1903. Father and son then became partners in running the school from 1903 to 1906.

B.J.'s involvement with PSC not only saved the school financially, but also gained for it the prominence necessary to build a health care profession that would


David Daniel Palmer opened the first chiropractic school in 1987. By 1902, 15 people had graduated from the Palmer Infirmary and Chiropractic Institute, which was renamed the Palmer School of Chiropractic (PSC) in 1907.

A year earlier, 1906, saw former PSC faculty member John Fitzalan Howard, DC, start the National School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. Two years later, the school was moved to Chicago, Ill.., where it remains today. Also in 1906, M.M. Stone, DC, founded the Texas College of Chiropractic in San Antonio, Texas.

Chiropractors from all schools continued to improve their profession in this era, and technology was one aspect of this drive. In 1910, B.J. Palmer introduced the use of X-rays to PSC, and in 1924, he introduced the neurocalometer, which was intended to reveal more scientifically the location of out-of-position spinal bones.

As a result of better education and technology, chiropractic began to gain greater acceptance. Individual states started recognizing chiropractors. In 1913, Kansas was the first state to legislate the licensing of chiropractors, and by 1927, 39 states had followed suit.

Today, major chiropractic colleges exist in New York, Illinois, Iowa, California, Texas, to name a few. Educational institutes are also located around the globe, in areas such as Canada, England and Australia.

As advances in science occur, the various curriculums for chiropractic education also advances.


After selling his half-interest in Palmer School of Chiropractic to his son, D.D. pursued other means of expanding the chiropractic profession.

From 1906 to his death in 1913, D.D. continued to spread his theory by establishing various chiropractic schools across the country, such as in the Western states of California, Oregon and Oklahoma. He traveled all over the country to lecture about his discovery, returning one last time to the Palmer School of Chiropractic for a homecoming in 1913.

Two months later, 68-year-old D.D. Palmer, founder of chiropractic, died of typhoid fever in Los Angeles.


After the mid-'20s, chiropractic mirrored the nation as it descended into the Great Depression. However, licensing legislation continued to pass, and in the 1940s two events spared a resurgence of chiropractic.

In 1941, John Nugent, DC, director of education for the National Chiropractic Association, established the first criteria to accredit chiropractic colleges and schools. Twelve schools were accredited that year.

Nugent's stringent standards transformed chiropractic schools into professional, non-profit organizations; he helped set the standard of quality that chiropractic education has today.

The other chiropractic milestone of the 1940s was the G.I. Bill. Starting in 1944, World War II veterans wanting to study chiropractic could get government benefits. As a result, returning soldiers quickly flooded chiropractic colleges.

The '50s and '60s heralded increased amounts of research, licensure, legislation and professional journals relating to chiropractic, which continued to advance the profession.

For instance, in 1963, the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners required that chiropractic graduates pass a nationally uniform exam before they began practicing.


In July 1995, the first of the two Historic Centennial Celebrations took take place in Washington, DC. A full slate of meetings, seminars and events left everyone very proud to be a member of this profession.

In September 1995, the second of these Celebrations occurred in Davenport, Iowa.