Order of Australia Medal Awarded to Dr. Rolf Peters

Congratulations are in order to Rolf Peters, DC, MCSc, FACC, FPAC, FICC.

Dr. Peters has been honored with the Award of Order of Australia Medal for his service to the chiropractic profession. The award was approved by The Governor General of Australia, in his capacity as the Chancellor of the Order of Australia.

Many of Rolf’s articles are posted on this site along with his own page. There is also a post about his book, which was released two years ago. Dr. Peters continues to demonstrate excellence and extraordinary service to the chiropractic profession. (Check out WFC’s tribute to Rolf!) Thank you, Dr. Peters!

The Institute Chiropractic is planning to publish an abridged version of Dr. Peters’ book in 2017. The book has received excellent reviews in Chiropractic History and Journal of Chiropractic Humanities. An Early History of Chiropractic is the seminal book on the topic.

What We Know of D.D. Palmer has Quadrupled

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 ten years of research in the Palmer archives for his thesis at RMIT University was developed into a book in 2014. We should have called the book The Palmers from 1902-1945.

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.

DD Palmer’s Chiropractic Ideas

My favorite story from the early days of DD Palmer’s chiropractic comes from 1902.

BJ Palmer was practicing in Manistique, Michigan. BJ got a telegram from his dad asking him to return home. When BJ arrived, DD had sold almost everything. He was leaving for California. DD told his son to gather up $200 and meet him there.

This was an extraordinary situation. Palmer had a busy practice, a school, and 42 rooms on the top floor of the Ryan block. I always knew about this story. The facts did not make sense until I studied Rolf Peters’ book and got a copy of the ad.

DD Palmer’s Only Full-page Ad

The circumstances were strange. DD skipped town with loads of debt. Back rent was due and he had patients to care for. Weirder still was that the day he left town on July 14, 1902, he published his first full page ad in the newspaper.

DD also included a short article for the paper. The article explained why he decided to post the ad. I got copies of both from the Davenport Library.  The article explains that BJ’s ad from May had done so well that he decided to run his own.

The ad itself is amazing. It described the basics of DD Palmer’s chiropractic paradigm for the first time.

DD Palmer’s Chiropractic Year

Because of this ad and some other writings from earlier in the year, I declare that 1902 was DD Palmer’s chiropractic year.

He uses the term luxation more than ever. (He didn’t start using the new term subluxation until 1903.) He also described the importance of the IVF and how nerve pressure leads to disease. Health is when the body is at ease. This is when the nerves are free to act naturally or as nature intended.

There were several other ideas that he described at this time including “our philosophy of treatment” and his first use of innate intelligence. He even described the main principle as: take off the pressure.

The Chiropractic Paradigm

The chiropractic paradigm is like any paradigm. It has a distinct theory that is brought forth or enacted by a practice or method. His writings from 1902 form the foundation of DD Palmer’s chiropractic paradigm.

DD Palmer’s chiropractic paradigm can be described like this:

The body is self-healing and self-organizing. This self-organizing, coordinating, and otherwise normally functioning process is the work of the Innate Intelligence.

Innate Intelligence operates over the nervous system. Subluxations create dis-ease because the nerves are mechanically deranged. This causes pressure. Pressure leads to abnormal function. The chiropractic adjustment replaces the displaced vertebra. (DD wrote that chiropractors work with all 300 articulations but primarily the spine.)

The analysis and ultimately the adjustment combine as the method. The method brings forth the paradigm.

It is important to understand DD Palmer’s chiropractic paradigm for many reasons. One reason is that it gives us a frame of reference to understand the paradigms that branched from it. I call these the middle chiropractic paradigm and the medical chiropractic paradigm. I will write about those in future blog posts.

The Story Continues

The rest of this story is even more compelling. DD wrote an article in 1905 titled Insanity. This article explains his reasons for heading west. Thomas Storey, one of the graduates from his school disappeared. Storey’s wife contacted DD for help.

Storey was spotted on the West Coast and had some form of amnesia. Palmer found him and adjusted his atlas. His insanity was cured.

And then of course there is BJ Palmer’s part of the story. (For the details, you should really get Rolf Peters’ book!)

BJ decided to stay and save the Palmer name. He ran his own ad series in August.

Those ads boosted his practice and the school. He paid off the debt, bought an automobile, and launched his career. The final ad in the series includes some of BJ’s first important chiropractic ideas.

Kent Gentempo Senzon 2014

I really enjoy my quarterly discussions with Kent and Gentempo. Since 2011, we have recorded a segment called “Chiropractic History with Simon Senzon (aka Simon Says Segment)” as part of On Purpose. As I continue to research, publish, and teach throughout the year, I get this wonderful opportunity to discuss my latest passion with them. Many of these discussions are posted as blog posts on this site.

Below are our three talks from this year (turned into video/slides with some animation).

Nine Books Published in 2014

The latest discussion was recorded over the summer and published in October. This talk was a great recap of the books I published this year. Since the talk, I published three more: Peters’ An Early History of Chiropractic, Drain’s Mind and My Pencil, and Smallie’s Ratledge Philosophy: Volume 2.

Segmental Neuropathy

One of the most incredible books I published this year was Segmental Neuropathy. It is published online for free. The talk we did back in February, which was published in April goes into the details of the book.

Amazingly, both Kent and Gentempo were familiar with the book. Kent taught from it in the past. He met Himes several times. The synchrotherme technology helped to inspire the thermography instrument Kent and Gentempo developed.

The Gen/Wave Model

In the last year I created the Gen/Wave model as a simple way to teach the history of the philosophy of chiropractic. I started developing the model in 2013 and refined it as part of my writing and teaching. This discussion took place while I was teaching on the West Coast. I created the animation as a way to help you understand it better.

I am looking forward to 2015 with great anticipation. My plan is to continue to publish the book series and develop 36 hours of online courses. Kent, Gentempo and I have already scheduled our talks for the year.

An Early History of Chiropractic by Rolf Peters

Rolf Peters, DC, MCSc, FACC, FPAC, FICC, is one of the leading historians in the chiropractic profession. His new book, An Early History of Chiropractic: The Palmers and Australia, is one of a kind. The book was developed from Dr. Peters’ 500 page Masters Thesis at RMIT, which relied on at least 300 hours of research in the Palmer Archives. The book is filled with facts about the early history of chiropractic published nowhere else!

Dr. Peters’ credentials are impressive. As a chiropractic historian, he was honored in 2011 with the prestigious Lee-Homewood Award by the Association for the History of Chiropractic. Rolf was nominated by long-time Palmer archivist, Glenda Wiese. To get a real sense of Rolf’s work and the depth of his connection to the history of chiropractic, please check out his acceptance speech.*

Rolf’s teammate, co-author, editor, and soul-mate was his late wife, Mary Ann Chance, granddaughter of HC Chance, Palmer faculty (1925-1958) and close friend of B.J. Palmer. Both Mary Ann and Rolf were awarded Life Membership of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia and Palmer College’s highest Award of Fellow in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic. Russ Gibbons, editor emeritus of the journal Chiropractic History wrote in response to one of their many articles,

Rolf is a 1957 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. (Rolf’s roommate at Palmer was Reggie Gold – click here to read Rolf’s tribute to Reggie.)

As early as 1959, Rolf’s excellence was recognized by the International Chiropractor’s Association. His first office in Beverly Hills was named office of the month. After a brief two-year practice in California, Rolf moved to Australia, where he practiced for fifty years.

I have been following Rolf’s writings for many years. He and Mary Ann were editors of the Chiropractic Journal of Australia (since 1983) and founders of the Association for Chiropractic History – Australia (in 1991). Their writings on the early years of the Palmer school and faculty are a resource for the profession.

Rolf granted me permission to post several of his articles here. My favorites include the lost years of 1902-1904, the article about D.D. Palmer’s death, and their wonderful yearly series looking back 100 years. One of the most important impacts on my recent research developed from their article on the year 1907 and details about the landmark Morikubo case.**

An Early History of Chiropractic: The Palmers and Australia, is a summation of all of the Peters-Chance articles and more! Rolf started with a quest to understand how chiropractic developed in Australia. That simple question led to the most detailed and significant book on the early history of chiropractic and the Palmers to date. This book will dispel many chiropractic myths, from what chiropractors treated to what really happened in the “lost years.”

Best of all, the book describes fascinating and parallel paths of chiropractic history. Chiropractic in Australia, unlike in the United States, was dominated by Palmer graduates and thus chiropractic was defined according to the detection and correction of vertebral subluxation using instrumentation, x-rays, and hands. Another Australian chiropractic historian, Bolton referred to this as “Mainstream chiropractic” and chiropractors who included other modalities as “second-stream.” We have a great deal to learn from this book.

I consider this book volume 11 in the White Books series. I am honored to publish it.

Book orders may be placed through:

SenzonOnline or Amazon.


*Reprinted by permission of the Association for the History of Chiropractic.

**Reprinted by permission of Dr. Peters.

© 2020 The Institute Chiropractic - Senzon Learning, Inc.