What is chiropractic?
Dr. David Daniel Palmer was a practicing magnetic healer in the 1890’s, who practiced in Davenport, Iowa. There was a janitor who worked in the building where Dr. Palmer practiced named Harvey Lillard. Harvey had been deaf for 17 years and was so deaf that he could not hear the wagons bump along the brick paved streets. Dr. Palmer asked Harvey how he had lost his hearing. Harvey replied that while bent over, in a stooped position, he heard something "pop" in his spine and immediately lost his hearing. Dr. Palmer was a very reasoning man and asked if he could examine Harvey’s spine to see if he could determine what had caused the deafness. Harvey agreed, and Dr. Palmer palpated Harvey’s spine. He found a noticeably large bump on Harvey’s spine at the 2nd cervical level. He determined that perhaps this large bump on Harvey’s spine had caused Harvey’s deafness and decided to try to reduce that bump by making a thrust upon it. Dr. Palmer placed Harvey down on his stomach and gave the bump a hard shove. After a series of three shoves the bump was reduced - Harvey’s hearing returned!
Dr. Palmer reasoned - if Harvey Lillard’s hearing was restored by reducing the bump in his spine, why not reduce the bumps in other people’s spines and restore their hearing. So he started to advertising that he could restore hearing by reducing bumps on people’s spines. He started watching and plotting where spinal nerves went, what organs and tissue cells they innervated. He developed his own anatomical charts, made notes of what was happening to different individual‘s problems and found that people where healing from conditions other than deafness. Heart conditions, asthma, kidney problems and even cancer to name a few, were clearing up in the patients of Dr. D.D. Palmer. He started looking to the spine as the cause of diseases.
Dr. D.D. Palmer knew that he had stumbled on how to get the body to heal itself, but he did not want to share it with the world, rather he wanted to keep it as a family secret. His son, Bartlett Joshua Palmer (B.J.), decided on letting the world know about the discovery his father had made and tried to keep secret. B.J. talked his father into starting a school for people to learn the art of chiropractic. D.D. opened ‘The Palmer Infirmary and Chiropractic School' in 1897, but since he had no students, he stated the opening of the school was in 1898 (when he had two students). B.J. was one of four students in the class of 1902. After graduating, B.J. practiced in several cities. His father asked him to come home and help run the infirmary and school, which B.J. did. B.J. later bought out his father’s interests and D.D. moved to Los Angeles, California, where he lived the remainder of his life.
B.J. worked at developing his school in Davenport, Iowa. There were many trials and tribulations; not to mention the arrests, the legal battles, etc. that comes from trying to develop something new. He went through financial difficulties and then made a lot of money through various enterprises that he was involved in. He started a new business in the fledging radio industry. In fact, one of the largest radio stations in the midwest carry the call letters "WOC," meaning the "Wonders of Chiropractic." The most famous of the people to ever work for him was Ronald Reagan, the man later to become President of the United States.
Among other things that B.J. did was to develop a research clinic, a radio station, a sanitarium for the mentally ill, a television station, analytical instruments for the new chiropractic profession and adjusting tables. He wrote many books and one thing which he did not like was to be interrupted by having to put a new sheet of paper into his typewriter in the middle of a thought. He went to a typewriter company and told them that he wanted them to build him an electric typewriter (the first) that would hold a roll of paper. He then would type several feet of paper, take it to his secretary and have her put it on normal size paper, punctuated, etc. He took a new invention, x-ray, and developed the techniques for taking certain views that would help the chiropractor see the vertebrae that were out of position. Some of these views are referred to by medical radiologists as "those chiropractic views" and are never referred to disparagingly because they are helpful to chiropractors and medics alike. The first full spine x-rays, that is a full view of the human spine on one film, were taken by Dr. B.J. Palmer, not the medics.
Some of the sayings that B.J. put out were: "As Sterling is to Silver, Palmer is to Chiropractic," "From the Palmer College Fountain Head, flows the pure water of chiropractic thinking." There is a small booklet of the sayings that B.J. had painted all over the walls of the school. For example, "Enter to learn - Leave to serve," "Prescriptions are written in Latin, but the bills come in plain English."
B.J.’s private clinic was a marvel. In order to work in the clinic, a student had to first complete all of the college clinic requirements and get accepted into Dr. Palmer’s private clinic. Very seriously sick patients were seen at this clinic. Patients were referred in by other chiropractors and would also come in when medical intervention had proven unsatisfactory. Patients were sent in from all over the world, those who couldn’t walk, who couldn’t function in any way.
B.J. was getting a fantastic percentage of patients well who were labeled as the "incurables." He had employed medical doctors to work in his clinic, who would run their tests to verify the hometown doctor’s diagnosis. He would run his own chiropractic tests, give the patient chiropractic adjustments when necessary, then the medical doctors would run their tests over to verify the results that Dr. Palmer was obtaining chiropractically. B.J. was a tireless worker and a mental giant, a man ahead of his time.