Chiropractic History

A Brief History of Chiropractic

The Beginning

Chiropractic was first practised in the United States. Daniel David Palmer tells us that chiropractic had its origin in September 1895 when he restored the hearing of a man named Harvey Lillard by treating his back.

“An examination showed a vertebra racked from its normal position. I reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man’s hearing should be restored. With this object in view, a half-hour’s talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allow me to replace it. I racked it into position using the spinous process as a lever and soon the man could hear as before.”

Palmer DD. 1910. The Chiropractor’s Adjustor, p. 17. Portland Printing House Company, Portland

The First European Chiropractors

Daniel Palmer set up a school in Davenport, Iowa to teach chiropractic to others. The first Europeans to study at the Palmer School of Chiropractic are thought to have begun their training in 1906. They were Elizabeth Van Raders, Godfrey Heathcote, Marie Nesseth and C Rasmussen. It seems likely that the first person to practise Palmerian chiropractic in Europe was a man named Arthur Eteson. According to an article published in the Davenport Democrat and Leader, Eteson travelled from Liverpool on 22nd October 1907 in order to study at the Palmer School of Chiropractic. After completing his studies records show that he returned to England.

The British Chiropractors’ Association

The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) is the oldest and largest association of chiropractors that exists in Britain today. Originally called the British Chiropractors’ Association, it was formed in 1925 to “handle Chiropractic, assist in its growth and be prepared for protective measures”. Soon after its formation an insurance scheme was introduced to protect members in the event of malpractice claims and a code of ethics was drawn up to guide them in their conduct. Annual conferences were arranged and from 1930 the Association produced a journal which was named The Progressive.

The European Chiropractic Union

In May 1931 the British Chiropractors’ Association held its annual conference in London. Chiropractors from across Europe were invited to attend and the idea of setting up a pan-European chiropractic organisation was discussed. A committee was formed to take matters forward. In July 1932 chiropractors met again in London and the European Chiropractic Union (ECU) was formally established. Charles Bannister was elected as the first President. To this day the European Chiropractors’ Union (as it is now known) represents chiropractors at European level.

War and its Aftermath

The Second World War resulted in death and devastation across Europe. Chiropractic was not immune to the turmoil and the European Chiropractic Union became dormant. After the War chiropractors faced the challenge of reorganising themselves. The ECU suffered from a lack of new blood, as well as issues of emigration, death and an increasing age among practitioners. This was a time when it was difficult, if not impossible, for prospective students of chiropractic to travel to the United States to study. There wasn’t a European chiropractic school recognised by the ECU and this presented a challenge.

Post-War Education in Europe

Although there were schools in Europe before the Second World War which purported to teach chiropractic within their curricula they were short-lived and none were recognised by the European Chiropractors’ Union. After the War a small number of European chiropractors took it upon themselves to train apprentices. Russell Llewellyn, a past-President of the British Chiropractors’ Association, was one such person. There was also a temporary ‘Danish school’ which came into existence in 1948 which trained fifteen students in chiropractic, but determined efforts to realise a more permanent solution to the problem of chiropractic education in Europe took longer to materialise.

The College Opens its Doors

Definite steps to set up a European chiropractic school were taken in 1960 when the Anglo-European College of Chiropractice (later changing its name to Anglo-European College of ChiropraTIC) was registered as a limited company. Three chiropractors, Robert Beech, Donald Bennett and Elizabeth Bennett were vital to the venture. Following the purchase of a property in Bournemouth, the AECC opened in September 1965.

Statutory Regulation

The Chiropractors Act called for the formation of a General Chiropractic Council (GCC) to regulate chiropractic in Britain, including the education of chiropractors. That body came into existence in 1998. During 2000 the GCC examined the courses offered by six schools which professed to provide undergraduate training for chiropractors in Britain, with the aim of ensuring high standards of education. Of the six schools, the AECC is one of three which continues to offer programmes accredited by the GCC. The others are the McTimoney College of Chiropractic and the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic.

There are now around 3000 chiropractors currently practicing in the UK.

Information obtained from the AECC website.