The history of the chiropractic profession has quite a storied past. It began with the birth of Daniel David Palmer in 1845 in Port Perry Ontario Canada.

DD Palmer - Father of Chiropractic

DD Palmer – Father of Chiropractic

The son of a shoemaker, grocer, postmaster and educator, DD Palmer was described as an intelligent and inquisitive young man. Even as a young man, Palmer displayed a keen interest in human anatomy and he was known to collect as many animal bones as he could.

According to his memoirs, Palmer was forced to leave his birth place due to the glutton of men who came across the Canadian border fleeing from the American civil war. With so many men, Canadian jobs became scarce so Palmer and his brother Thomas, decided to leave home in search of employment.


By 1865, Palmer and his brother crossed the Canada/US border and worked their way across the western United States. Over the next 20 years, Palmer made a living teaching school and farming.

However, during this time he continued his study of human health and anatomy. By the mid 1880’s, Palmer had established himself as a “magnetic healer” and he recognized that many diseases were associated with problems within the internal organs.

He questioned why one man would suffer from pneumonia, typhoid or rheumatism and another man who shared the same food at the same table in the same shop at the same time, would exhibit no illness at all?Spinal Misalignment

Palmer believed that the only answer to that question could be that the human body had an innate ability to resist disease and heal itself. Palmer focused his studies on the human spine and relationship between spinal misalignment and nerve interference.


Between 1885 and 1895, Palmer continued to work as a healer and advertised that he could cure disease without the use of drugs or surgery.

His healing practice began with three rooms in an office building in Davenport, Iowa and quickly grew to occupy 40 rooms within the same office building.

As legend has it, the practice of chiropractic was born with the encounter that Palmer had with the owner of a janitorial service that shared space in Palmer’s building.  Mr. Harvey Lillard had been deaf for 17 years following an incident in which he had strained his back during which he felt a “pop”.

Palmer examined his spine and found a vertebra “out of position” and proceeded to use his hands to thrust the vertebra back into place. Lillard, the janitor’s hearing was restored.

On September 18, 1895 according to Daniel David Palmer, the practice of chiropractic (latin for “treatment by hand”) was born.

In 1897 Palmer had established a school to teach the art and science of chiropractic. The “Palmer School and Cure” incorporated under the laws of Iowa was later renamed the “Palmer School of Chiropractic”.


There are now 21 chiropractic colleges in North America.