BJ Palmer, Son to the Founder of Modern Chiropractic

Bartlett Joshua Palmer, known to the world as BJ Palmer, was born to Daniel David Palmer and Louvenia Landers McGee Palmer on September 10, 1881 in What Cheer, Iowa. When DD Palmer created his theory that a partial dislocation of the vertebrae alter its nerve flow, thus causing 95% of all diseases,

he was reluctant to share his discovery with others, including his own son, BJ. When he finally decided to share his method, he opened a school in addition to his magnetic healing infirmary.

(More information about DD Palmer, Father of Chiropractic)


BJ Palmer, A Dedicated Student

BJ was one of his father’s first students. As a student, BJ was serious with his studies and responsibilities. He was the first to arrive at the infirmary and the last to leave. In 1904, he was one of the first graduates of Palmer Infirmary and Chiropractic Institute.

Escaping Conviction for Practicing Without a Medical License

When in 1899, a medical doctor  named Heinrich Matthey in Davenport, Iowa demanded that drugless healers be prevented from practicing in the state, and that education should be entrusted only to doctors of medicine, BJ and his father were prosecuted. While his father, DD Palmer, was convicted in 1906 for curing diseases without a license in medicine, BJ never turned up and thus did not go to jail.

Owning the Palmer School of Chiropractic

After his father’s conviction, the school was forcefully sold to him. He was already president of the school since 1904. With an arbitration committee, the deal was settled for $2,196.79, and included an assortment of books and specimens from the osteological collection. The school was then named Palmer School of Chiropractic (PSC), and it is still one of the most prominent chiropractic colleges in the US today.

Many Chiropractic Colleges Open

Under BJ Palmer’s leadership, PSC expanded its enrollment to over a thousand students in the 1920’s. Three major buildings were constructed: Administration, DD Palmer Memorial, and BJ Palmer hall. Thirty more chiropractic schools opened in the next fifteen years. One of which was John Howard’s National School of Chiropractic, which moved to Chicago, Illinois, and is now the National University of Health Sciences. With each school venturing to establish its own identity, Palmer carried on developing his father’s concept of innate intelligence.

Palmer Advances Chiropractic Through Research

Palmer improved the methods of spinal adjusting and analysis through extensive research. He included X-Ray imaging technology into the Palmer curriculum, and called it spinography. The first x-ray equipment was in full use in the classroom and patient clinics. He authored over 70 books, numerous booklets, speeches, research, and various printed material on chiropractic. With Palmer’s aggressive marketing strategies, the standards of chiropractic education increased, and so did the worldwide awareness and appreciation of chiropractic.

Legacy Passed to Dave Palmer, the Educator of Chiropractic

When BJ Palmer died in 1961, the school was passed to his only son, Dr. David Daniel Palmer, more commonly known as Dave Palmer, who went to University of Pennsylvania, and then Wharton School of Business. Dave knew that he would some day take charge of the school and so he wanted to be educated in business.

His grandfather was known as the father of chiropractic, his father known as the developer of chiropractic, and he was known as the e