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History of Palmer Chiropractic

The history of chiropractic education began at the Palmer School of Chiropractic, started by the profession’s founder, Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer. The science, art and philosophy of chiropractic evolved from D.D. Palmer’s years of independent research and study of human health and disease. Following the successful application of his knowledge to initial patients in 1895, he began teaching others in Davenport, Iowa. The first classes of the Palmer School and Cure (later known as the Palmer Infirmary and Chiropractic Institute, the Palmer School of Chiropractic and, finally, Palmer College of Chiropractic) were held in 1897. Palmer is chiropractic’s first college and is known throughout the profession as The Fountainhead.

One of D.D. Palmer’s early students was his son, Dr. Bartlett Joshua Palmer, who joined his father in conducting classes. Upon completing the course of study, B.J. (as he came to be known throughout the world) headed the school from 1906 until his death in 1961. One of B.J.’s first acts was to incorporate the school and change the name to Palmer School of Chiropractic, which was chartered in 1907.

During B.J.’s years of leadership, international attention was brought to the chiropractic profession and the school. His drive, creativity and capacity for attracting strong administrators and faculty propelled the school forward. By 1920, three major buildings—Administration, D.D. Palmer Memorial and B.J. Palmer Hall—had been constructed. The first X-ray equipment in the chiropractic profession was in full use in the classroom and the patient clinic. Clinical research was also underway.

Dr. Mabel Heath Palmer, B.J.’s wife and a Palmer graduate, was the treasurer of the school and an anatomy faculty member. She earned the title First Lady of the Profession for her untiring devotion to chiropractic, the school and its students. She died in 1949. B.J. continued to accomplish new goals for the school and brought the curriculum to 4,320 hours in four academic years by 1950. To honor his wife, he constructed the Mabel Heath Palmer Laboratories in 1952.

With B.J. Palmer’s death in 1961, the Palmer presidency passed to his son, Dr. David Daniel Palmer. As did his father and grandfather before him, Dr. Dave, as he was known, brought his own brand of leadership to Palmer. Just as they were known as the Developer and Founder of Chiropractic, respectively, he became known as the Educator. His perception of chiropractic education prompted him to change the name of Palmer School of Chiropractic to Palmer College of Chiropractic. Pre-professional studies of two years at a liberal arts college became an admissions requirement, and groundwork was laid for the College’s accreditation. He obtained nonprofit status for the College in 1965 and formed the first Board of Trustees in 1973. Acknowledging his limitless dreams for the College and the profession, he began constructing and acquiring additional facilities. The faculty tripled and the PCC International Alumni Association was formed.

At the time of Dr. David Palmer’s death in 1978, his dreams were still materializing. The College was accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education in 1979 and by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 1984.

On October 17, 1980, Palmer College acquired Northern California College of Chiropractic, which became today’s Palmer College of Chiropractic, West Campus, located in San Jose, Calif. Twenty years later, on Oct. 3, 2003 the College made it possible for even more students to learn the art, science and philosophy of chiropractic by opening Palmer College of Chiropractic, Florida Campus, in Port Orange, Fla.

In 2005, the Board of Trustees approved an organizational structure that defined Palmer as one college with three campuses. The Davenport Campus, also known as The Fountainhead of Chiropractic, is the main campus with branch campuses in San Jose, Calif., and Port Orange, Florida.

Palmer College has spawned legends and led the way for the growth of the profession and chiropractic education. It has sent more than 40,000 alumni out to practice throughout the world. The halls and corridors echo the voices of the past and the present.

Science and technology blend with rich tradition at Palmer, no matter which campus you choose for your Chiropractic education. Palmer has created the foundation for this dynamic profession and is a leader in the field of health care.