What we know of D.D. Palmer has quadrupled. His life is no longer the mystery it once was although it has some mysterious qualities. In the last three years we have learned more about D.D. Palmer than in the last thirty.
One biography was written about him in 1981. I remember sitting in my chiropractor’s office in the early nineties. He had Old Dad Chiro on the shelf. It is wonderful little book.
Gielow included excerpts from Palmer’s journals and even the name and date on B.J. Palmer’s birth certificate. He wrote just enough to get you started but it was written before computers, the internet, newspaper archive databases, and before the content and context of D.D. Palmer’s life was really understood.
When we add the recent discoveries to the fact that there are no current critiques of Palmer’s writings it becomes evident that we are in a new era of D.D. Palmer scholarship.
The D.D. Palmer Literature
The classic writings on D.D. Palmer are all worth studying. In the 1930s and 1940s Cooley wrote about his mentor. I published those a few years ago. Harper wrote his book Anything Can Cause Anything in the 1960s to update Palmer. I mentioned Gaucher-Pelsherbe’s work from 1980s and 1990s a few months ago. One of the most well-known writings on D.D. is the work of Keating but there is NO critical literature on his analyses of the evolution of D.D. Palmer’s ideas.
In recent years there have been some amazing articles on D.D. Palmer including Brown’s exploration of Dad Chiro and his raspberry bushes, Foley’s confirmation that D.D. Palmer did not teach phrenology in the 1880s, as well as some fascinating articles by Bovine on Palmer’s adjusting style and by Faulkner and Foley on Palmer’s books.*
But it is the most recent books on D.D. Palmer that now equal about 80% of what know of him!
The Rolf Peters’ Chiropractic History Revolution
The impact Rolf Peters has had on the chiropractic profession is impossible to estimate. Since 1957 when he graduated from Palmer Chiropractic College, Peters has been trailblazing new frontiers for the profession. As co-editors of the Chiropractic Journal of Australia for thirty years, Rolf and his wife Mary Ann Chance helped to shape the profession. Their history articles set the bar for a new generation of chiropractic historians.
Rolf’s history of the life and times of D.D. Palmer and B.J. Palmer during the time period of chiropractic’s emergence is interwoven with the larger story. The book is the most detailed history of the Palmer school ever written. It includes facts about the early history of chiropractic published nowhere else.
Reviews of Rolf’s book were just published in two different journals! The Journal of Chiropractic Humanities published a review by Glenda Wiese in December. The journal Chiropractic History published a review by Joe Foley in the Winter 2016 issue.*
The Waters’ Quartet
Todd Waters compiled four books spanning D.D. Palmer’s life in the United States from 1869-1913. In the first book, Waters found D.D.’s articles from the American Bee Journal in the 1870s when Palmer was mastering his craft as a bee keeper. The second and third books track D.D.’s life and his various careers from 1882-1888, which include some interesting and strange events.
My favorite one of the books is Chasing D.D. It traces Palmer’s time from just before he invented chiropractic until his death in 1913. It is filled with stories and writings that people already know but with text of original ads and newspaper clippings that are priceless. It debunks several myths.
The Real D.D. Palmer
I am developing my talk for the Berkshire Philosophy Event in April. The event is sold out. Please be sure to register EARLY for 2017. It is one the premiere events in the profession. My talk will integrate many of the latest ideas we know about Palmer.
I just completed my notes for the event, which include about fifty pages of text. Because of all of this new material I was able to go beyond my previous writings on The Secret History and D.D.’s Traveling Library. It also includes my own historical discoveries and a few that have not yet been published by other historians. I’ll share more on those another day.