Monday, December 20, 2010

Batshit Americana: Chiropractic

The American prairies of the late 1800s produced a lot of wacky cults, chiropractic being just one example.

Link to D. D. Palmer on a pretty cool mapping site, AKA Daniel David Palmer.

Born: 7-Mar-1845
Birthplace: Port Perry, Ontario, Canada
Died: 20-Oct-1913
Location of death: Los Angeles, CA
Cause of death: Typhoid Fever
Remains: Cremated, Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, IA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Doctor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of chiropractic medicine

D. D. Palmer devised chiropractic medicine, the theory that most human illness derives from dislocations of the spinal column, and that manipulation or adjustment of the spine cures ailments from headaches to high blood pressure. Through the mid-20th Century, the American Medical Association ridiculed chiropractic as an unsafe, even lethal form of quackery. While chiropractic medicine is now more accepted as an alternative to traditional medicine, there is little dispute that its originator was an eccentric character.

His formal schooling ended at the age of eleven, and as an adult he worked as a beekeeper, fruit merchant, grocer, and school teacher. He was a long-time aficionado of alternative ideas, having joined a spiritual cult and researched phrenology, and for several years he advertised his services as a "magnetic healer" in Davenport, Iowa. In 1895, he said he had cured deafness in a patient, one Harvey Lillard, by making two adjustments to Lillard's displaced vertebra. He subsequently claimed to have cured another patient's heart disease with similar spinal manipulation, and in 1896 he established the Palmer School of Magnetic Cure, now known as Palmer College of Chiropractic.

"Having found the cause of cancer", he later wrote, "it is an easy thing to relieve the pressure upon the blood vessels and nerves". He had no medical training, but billed himself as "Dr Palmer", and he was charged at least three times with practicing medicine without a license. Testifying that his work had no relation to medicine, he was acquitted on two occasions, then charged a third time in 1906, convicted and briefly jailed. After paying a fine, he left Iowa and turned the school over to his son, chiropractor B. J. Palmer.

In his later years the elder Palmer claimed to have "received chiropractic from the other world", and argued that instead of seeking changes in the law to make chiropractic legal, chiropractors should claim that their work is protected by freedom of religion. He died on 20 October 1913, and according to news accounts at the time his death was caused by injuries sustained when he was hit by a car driven by his son. The younger Palmer was sued by his father's estate, but the case was dropped before the trial reached conclusion, after the coroner listed typhoid as cause of death. Palmer was married six times and died destitute, but his son popularized chiropractic by eliminating the wackier rhetoric, managing the college in a professional manner, and purchasing two radio stations to promote chiropractic ideas.

Father: Thomas Palmer (shoemaker, b. 10-Oct-1824, d. 1903)
Mother: Catherine McVay Palmer (b. circa 1827)
Brother: Bartlett Palmer (postal worker, d. 1911)
Sister: Catherine Palmer
Sister: Hanna Jane Palmer
Sister: Lucinda Mariah Palmer
Brother: Thomas Palmer, Jr. (b. 1843)
Wife: Abba Lord Palmer (m. 20-Jan-1871, sep. 1873)
Wife: Louvenia Landers Palmer (m. 7-Oct-1874, d. 20-Nov-1884)
Wife: Lavinia McGee Palmer (m. 1876, d. 1885)
Wife: Martha Henning Palmer (m. 1885)
Wife: Villa Amanda Thomas Palmer (m. 6-Nov-1888, d. 9-Nov-1905)
Wife: Molly Hudler Palmer ("Mary", m. 11-Jan-1906)
Daughter: May Palmer Brownell (b. 1878)
Daughter: Jessie Palmer Wall (b. 1888)
Son: Bartholomew Josiah Palmer ("B.J.", chiropractor, b. 14-Sep-1892, d. 21-May-1961)

Administrator: Founder, Palmer College of Chiropractic (1896-1906)

Canadian Ancestry
English Ancestry Paternal
German Ancestry Paternal
Irish Ancestry Maternal
Scottish Ancestry Maternal

Author of books:
The Chiropractic Adjuster (1910)
Text-Book of the Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic for Students and Practitioners (1910)
The Chiropractor (1914, posthumous)
Daily Meditations of D. D. Palmer (1982, posthumous)


  1. I agree with this blog and this is the sunrise for chiropractic services for headaches, low back pain, neck pain, pain relief, sports massage and massage therapy.

  2. Everyone has been to see a doctor at some point in their life. Not everyone has been to see a chiropractor.


  3. Lindsay Rosenwald Lindsay Rosenwald initiated his professional studies at Pennsylvania State University in 1973 after graduating from Abington High School.

  4. It takes a leap and jump in the logic to imagineer how chiropractic could assist in the alleviation of dysmenorrhoeaic pain, but it goes something like this, courtesy of.

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  6. Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine that emphasizes diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system under the hypothesis that these disorders affect general health via the nervous system.