In many ways, the early history of chiropractic is the history of three generations of Palmers. Daniel David Palmer, usually called D.D.; his son, Bartlett Joshua Palmer, called B.J.; Mabel Heath Palmer, B.J.'s wife; and B.J. and Mabel's son, David D. Palmer, often called Dr. Dave.
At the end of the 19th century, when D.D. Palmer came on the health care scene, medicine was leaving an era of proclaimed cure-alls to pursue more scientific investigation into the treatment of disease. D.D. reasoned that the body had an ample supply of natural healing power transmitted through the nervous system. If a single organ was sick, it must not be receiving its normal nerve supply. That led to the premise of spinal misalignment, or subluxation, and from there to a procedure for adjusting the vertebrae. D.D. performed his first adjustments in 1895, relieving one man of deafness and another person of heart trouble. Arrangements were made to train others in the application of the chiropractic principle. The Palmer School and Cure was founded in 1897 and was later incorporated under the laws of Iowa. The school later became the Palmer School of Chiropractic.
Dr. B.J. Palmer launched his colorful career by assuming the responsibility of the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1906. His contributions included extensive research, improved methods of spinal adjusting and analysis, higher standards for chiropractic education, and increased appreciation for chiropractic worldwide. B.J. battled on many fronts — legal and legislative obstacles to the licensing of chiropractors and financial challenges to the school. He was often the center of controversy, but well before his death in 1961, chiropractic had secured a place among the health sciences.
A guiding influence in B.J. Palmer's life was his wife, Mabel Heath Palmer, who became a Doctor of Chiropractic in 1905. A recognized authority on anatomy and an instructor at the school for more than 30 years, Mabel Palmer was a close and valued adviser to her husband in all phases of the chiropractic profession.
David Palmer, the grandson of chiropractic's founder, assumed the presidency of Palmer in 1961. An initial step toward accreditation was to change the corporate name of the Palmer School of Chiropractic to Palmer College of Chiropractic. Then the campus was modernized, with classrooms renovated and modern teaching aids installed. Two other key contributions were the establishment of non-profit status for Palmer College and the organization of the Palmer College of Chiropractic International Alumni Association. After Dr. Dave's death in 1978, the College received accreditation from the Council on Chiropractic Education and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Dr. David Palmer is also the founder of the Rugby Program.