History of Osteopathy
(and Twentieth-Century Medical Practice)

E. R. Booth, Ph.D, D.O.



When we destroy an old prejudice we have need of a new virtue. - MADAM DE STAEL.

The literature of Osteopathy is voluminous. This is not surprising when we remember the rapidity with which Osteopathy has grown, and the avidity with which information concerning the new science has been sought. As to quality, it may be classed as good, bad, and indifferent. Nor is it surprising that all these classes should be liberally represented when we remember the circumstances attending its promulgation. There seem to have been four purposes in the literature that has already been presented; namely, (1) to teach the would-be osteopath a short cut to the storehouse of knowledge necessary to become a practitioner; (2) to teach the student of Osteopathy the fundamental principles upon which the science is based; (3) to interest the public in the new science and present such information as would give the people an intelligent idea of the osteopathic theory and the rationale of its practice; and, (4) to present the subject from a purely scientific standpoint so that the scholar might understand the rationale of osteopathic theory and practice. From another viewpoint all osteopathic literature may be thrown into three classes; namely, books, periodicals, and circulars.

It is not the purpose of this chapter to review the large volume of literature now before the public; and that very considerable volume of writings designed to teach Osteopathy to the novice will be entirely ignored. It is preposterous to think of learning Osteopathy from a book, and more so by any correspondence or shortcut method, when the best minds in the profession require two or three full years of study and practice in schools specially designed to teach the science. While Dr. Bailey may have read the osteopathic literature that had appeared at the time he testified in Judge Toney's court (page 180), it is not probable that any one person can have read all that has been issued up to the present time.


A number of books have appeared which deserve attention, but no attempt will be made to review them, or to give them the consideration they deserve. The first writings upon the subject of Osteopathy, most of which appeared first in the Journal of Osteopathy, are those by Dr. Still himself. To every osteopath they are of inestimable value. They constitute, as Dr. Hardin has said, the osteopathic bible. Like the Christian Bible, they are often misunderstood and misinterpreted by those whose minds have not been cleansed by the common sense of osteopathic doctrine, and like the same good book many a wise thought has proven a stumbling block to some whose hearts are right, but whose visions are limited. The writer remembers the interest with which he read the "Autobiography of A. T. Still" before be began the study of Osteopathy; but he remembers the immeasurably greater interest with which he read it after spending two years in almost daily communion with its author, and even more time in hard work trying to grasp the full significance of Osteopathy. "The Philosophy of Osteopathy," "The Philosophy and Mechanical Principles of Osteopathy," and the many articles from the pen of Dr. Still that have appeared in the journals, particularly the Journal of Osteopathy, may be spoken of in the same strain. Future generations will be better able to see the breadth of his science and the depth of his philosophy than the present. Our perspective is too narrow.

In l898, Dr. C. P. McConnell had printed a limited edition of "Notes on Osteopathic Therapeutics." It comprised the substance of a series of lectures delivered to the advanced classes in the American School of Osteopathy, and was used by subsequent classes as a text-book. Later the same author's "Practice of Osteopathy" appeared and was soon recognized as the first textbook to cover the general field of osteopathic practice, as the larger works on the practice of medicine cover the general field of medical practice. In arrangement it is based upon Dr. Wm. Osler's well-known "Practice of Medicine," but is thoroughly osteopathic in its therapeutics.

The subject from a general, yet practical, standpoint, has been ably presented by Dr. Chas. Hazzard in his, "Principles of Osteopathy," which consists of a series of lectures delivered before the students of the American School of Osteopathy. This work deals with the facts of anatomy and physiology that apply to the practice of Osteopathy, rather than the basic principles underlying the science. The second edition contained lectures upon a limited number of diseases with the osteopathic methods of diagnosis and treatment of the same. It is, therefore, a suitable introduction for the use of the student in his practical work. This was followed by a more pretentious work entitled the "Practice of Osteopathy," which covers nearly the same field gone over in his former work, with much in addition thereto relating to the examination, osteopathic diagnosis, cause of each disease, treatment, and results as shown by a large number of carefully classified case reports.

Dr. Dain L. Tasker, in his "Principles of Osteopathy," has given us much that is of value to every student of the subject. His recognition of the importance of the cell, the nature of the different kinds of tissues, etc., and the unmistakable scientific basis upon which he rests his conclusions are worthy of special commendation. The work also discusses the subject of examination of the different regions of the body and the treatment of abnormalities. The writer is of the opinion that Dr. Tasker's book would have been more acceptable to the profession and fully as valuable to the laity had all cuts representing movements been left out. They seem to be valueless to the trained osteopath and misleading to one not so trained, from the fact that a movement cannot be adequately represented by cuts; and the conditions of the tissues, which cannot be illustrated at all, must be known to the operator before he can give a rational treatment.

Dr. W. L. Riggs, deceased, was the author of two succinct little manuals. The first was called the "Theory of Osteopathy," and the second "A Manual of Osteopathic Manipulations and Treatment." These books were not intended for the general public. They contain much that is valuable to the conscientious student of Osteopathy, and many practical suggestions that can be utilized by graduate osteopaths. The same criticism made against the cuts in Dr. Tasker's book, will apply to Dr. Riggs's second volume.

A more recent book upon the general subject is by Dr. Guy D. Hulett, deceased, on the "Principles of Osteopathy." He has discussed at length theories and practices in search of fundamental, basic principles, and presented them in the light of practical experiences. His conclusions are more nearly in accord with those enunciated by the founder of Osteopathy thirty years ago, than any other writer. The distinction between Osteopathy and other methods of treating disease is made clear; and the doctrine of the correction of lesions in practice as the only real curative procedure, is in marked contrast with the practice of all other methods using manipulation as well as that of osteopaths who lay stress upon stimulation or inhibition. A second edition, enlarged to 373 pages, and improved by the addition of new materials and better cuts, appeared in July, 1904.

Dr. Marion E. Clark is the author of a book on "Diseases of Women," a manual of gynecology designed for the use of osteopathic students and practitioners. This was the first attempt to put in book form a systematic explanation of the subject as taught and practiced by Osteopathy. A second edition appeared in September, 1904, very much enlarged and improved. It contains 539 pages, is printed from new plates, is more profusely illustrated, and more substantially bound.

The same subject has been ably presented by Percy H. Woodall, M. D., D. O., in a book entitled "Osteopathic Gynecology." Both have been highly commended by the profession. They are used as text-books in osteopathic colleges as well as by members of the profession engaged in practice.

"Physiology, Exhaustive and Practical," by Dr. J. M. LittleJohn, appeared in 1898. It is an elaborate work of 832 pages, and contains the lectures delivered upon the subject at the American School of Osteopathy.

Several books prepared by professors in osteopathic colleges that are important in teaching the general science of Osteopathy but do not deal with the subject specifically, have appeared from time to time. Among these may be mentioned Dr. C. W. Proctor's "Brief Course in General Chemistry" and "Brief Course in Physiological Chemistry." Other works, which it has not been the author's privilege to examine, doubtless deserve attention.

Dr. F. P. Young's "Surgery" from an osteopathic standpoint, Dr. C. E. Still, collaborator, appeared in June, 1904. It has 438 pages, with 150 illustrations. The effect of Osteopathy in revolutionizing modern surgery is evident from a perusal of the work. It does not detail operative methods as these properly belong to operative surgery. Special attention is given to the purely osteopathic treatment in preventing operations and as practical aids before and after operations.

Dr. Wm. R. Laughlin's "Anatomy in a Nutshell," a treatise on human anatomy in its relation to Osteopathy, appeared in March, 1905. It is in one volume of 616 pages, illustrated by 290 excellent plates. The book is not intended to take the place of the standard texts on anatomy. As it is designed especially for the student in descriptive anatomy engaged in class-room work, it is divided into 200 lessons so as to enable the learner to concentrate his attention upon certain definite lines of study each day, with a view to future practice.

Several books designed to present Osteopathy in light vein, to the general reader, have appeared. Those that have attracted most attention are "Crutches for Sale" and "Confessions of an M. D.," the latter by Dr. E. D. Barber. The former was published in 1898. The good work of an osteopathic physician in case of an accident to a young lady is the center about which the plot clusters. The latter comprises a series of letters from a supposed drug doctor to his son. The father by degrees became interested in Osteopathy, and finally turned his large practice over to his son, who had graduated in the science.


A large number of osteopathic periodicals have appeared from time to time. Some of them were short lived; others have improved with age and grown in favor. Some were only intended to "boom" the business of those interested in them, and were suspended as soon as they had succeeded sufficiently or failed entirely to accomplish that end. Others were the organs of schools and their life was generally synchronous with that of the schools which they represented. Still others had no affiliation with any school or private practitioner, but represented the cause of Osteopathy as seen by those who were responsible for them. The character of literature distributed became a question of concern to the profession at large, and the Board of Trustees of the American Osteopathic Association offered the following timely suggestions in its report at the meeting in 1901:

"The board feels justified in calling attention to the mediocre character of much osteopathic literature, and perhaps sounding a note of warning as to the effect of even the best 'popular' kind.

In our attempts to popularize Osteopathy, is there not great danger of lowering the plane of thought along which the consideration of Osteopathy shall be directed? Our assertion that its foundations in science are deep and broad avails nothing if our elaboration of it is shallow. It is mistaken kindness which reacts by degrading the object upon which it is bestowed."

The Journal of Osteopathy was the first regular publication in the interest of the new science. Tt has always been published by the American School of Osteopathy at Kirksville, Missouri. Its purpose was to disseminate a knowledge of Osteopathy for the information of the people and to supply the needs of a school journal. Dr. Still has been one of its principal contributors, and many of his best thoughts have been given to the profession and to the public through its columns. The first issue appeared in May, 1894, and it has been published regularly every month since, except for September, 1897. Its editors have been Dr. Nettie H. Bolles, May, 1894, to January, 1895; Dr. Blanche Still (now Mrs. Geo. M. Laughlin), January, 1895, to May, 1897; Col. A. L. Conger and Dr. Wm. Potter, May, 1897, to April, 1898; William Gill, April, 1898, to January, 1899; Dr. H. S. Bunting, January, 1899, to July, 1899; Dr. Minnie Dawson, July, 1899, to March, 1900; and Dr. Geo. M. Laughlin, March, 1900, to the present time. The first three volumes were published in quarto form, at first, with four pages, but most of the time with eight. Since May, 1897, it has been an octavo journal, in appearance very much as it is at present.

The Osteopath has been published as the organ of the Pacific School of Osteopathy most of the time since the organization of the school. Part of the time it appeared monthly, but lately it has been issued as a quarterly. It has contained many original articles of great scientific value, some of which have been illustrated by cuts of original work done in the college. Most of the contributors have been members of the faculty.

The Northern Osteopath, a monthly magazine, was issued by the Northern Institute of Osteopathy, Minneapolis, Minnesota, from July, 1896, to March, 1902, when it was consolidated with the Cosmopolitan Osteopath, and became the Northern Osteopath and Cosmopolitan Osteopath, under the management of W. R. Dobbyn, Minneapolis, with Dr. J. A. Still, Editor-in-chief.

The Wisconsin Osteopath was issued in the interests of the Milwaukee Institute of Osteopathy, and the Kansas City Osteopathic Magazine by the Kansas City school during most of the periods covered by the lives of those schools.

The first number of The Boston Osteopath was published in January, 1898. It was issued monthly till October, 1903. It was the official organ of the Boston Institute of Osteopathy, and had no inconsiderable influence in the promulgation of Osteopathy in the New England States. It was under the editorial management of Dr. C. E. Achorn and Julia C. Clarke.

The Massachusetts Journal of Osteopathy is the natural successor of the Boston Osteopath, although it was issued before the latter suspended. It entered upon its career as the representative of the Massachusetts College of Osteopathy, and in the interest of Osteopathy and osteopathic education, especially in the New England States, in April, 1902. It is a bi-monthly, under the management of R. K. Smith, lost of its contributors are members of the directory of the college.

The first issue of The Cosmopolitan Osteopath appeared in August, 1898, with Col. A. L. Conger as editor and Professor W. L. Riggs as associate editor. This was the announcement number of the S. S. Still College and Infirmary of Osteopathy, Des Moines, Iowa. Col. Conger remained editor till his death in 1899, when he was succeeded by Dr. A. Still Craig, who served in that capacity till September, 1900, when Dr. J. A. Still became editor. In March, 1902, the Cosmopolitan Osteopath was consolidated with the Northern Osteopath under the title, The Northern Osteopath and Cosmopolitan Osteopath, when Wm. R. Dobbyn became managing editor, Dr. J. A. Still continuing as editor-in-chief. In April 1903, its publication at Des Moines, was resumed under its old name, with Dr. J. A. Still as editor-in-chief. It has always appeared in neat magazine form and maintained a high standard of literary and professional excellence.

The California Osteopath was issued by the California College of Osteopathy in the interest of the college and for the advancement of the science of Osteopathy. The first issue appeared in September, 1898, and the last early in 1900. Dr. Alden H. Potter was its only editor.

The Southern Journal of Osteopathy was started soon after the establishment of the Southern School of Osteopathy. It is a monthly journal published in the interests of the science of Osteopathy and as the organ of the school. Its first editor was Dr. G. F. Nason, who was succeeded in October, 1901, by Dr. R. S. Collier. He served one year, when Dr. W. S. McClain, the present editor, assumed control.

The Philadelphia Jonrnal of Osteopathy was issued as a monthly from January, 1899, to January, 1904. It is now published quarterly. It has always been the official organ of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathy, and also been valuable in the dissemination of a knowledge of Osteopathy, especially in the eastern states. Dr. Mason W. Pressly was its editor, assisted by the faculty of the college, till his retirement from the college.

The first osteopathic journal issued independent of any school was The Popular Osteopath. Volume I, Number 1, appeared in January, 1899. It was conducted in the general interest of the profession. Its chief mission originally was to explain Osteopathy to the people and correct many of the erroneous ideas concerning the science that had crept into the public mind. It was first published at Kirksville, Missouri, with Dr. W. F. Link, editor, and Drs. M. C. Hardin, A. L. Evans, Charles Owens, and Chas. Hazzard, associate editors. In May, 1899, its publication office was removed to Chattanooga, Tenn. As the national organization, the American Association for the Advancement of Osteopathy, had no journal representing its interests, the Popular Osteopath was adopted as the official organ of the association before the first issue appeared. This action was taken at the meeting of the Association at Indianapolis, in July, 1899, and arrangements were made for printing a directory of the members of the association. The first issue contained a cut of the offices of the association, and the first official directory appeared in the issue for October, 1899. It had 566 names with the address of each and the name of the school from which each graduated. The directory was a feature of each issue till its publication was suspended in June, 1900.

The American Osteopath was first published at Kirksville, Missouri, and later at Memphis, Tennessee. It was issued as a quarterly for the profession, a monthly for the public, and later as a weekly, but appeared at irregular periods during its existence from 1899 to 1901. It published the complete proceedings of the meeting of the American Osteopathic Association at Indianapolis, in July, 1899, a directory of osteopaths, and other valuable information.

Bulletin Number 1, of the Atlas Club, Kirksville, Missouri, appeared in December, 1899. It contained merely the names and addresses of the members. Three or four issues were published within a little more than a year. In March, 1901, Volume I, Number 1, of The Bulletin, published by the Atlas and Axis Clubs, came out, and it has been a regular monthly visitor, except in July and August, to the members of those clubs ever since. The Bulletin is a fraternal journal, but has contained many articles of prime importance to the profession at large. It is edited by students of the American School of Osteopathy.

Osteopathic Success was the name of the organ of the Atlantic School of Osteopathy from its first issue in February, 1901. It was published monthly with Dr. J. W. Banning as editor, till September, 1903, when its name was changed to The Atlantic Osteopath, a bi-monthly, with the faculty of the school as editors.

The Journal of the Science of Osteopathy was a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the demonstration and exposition of the principles of Osteopathy and surgery. The first number appeared in April, 1900, and the last in January, 1903, at which time it was consolidated with the Osteopathic World. Dr. J. M. Littlejohn was its editor and it was published in Chicago. It was the highest type of scientific Osteopathic literature and attracted the attention of other branches of the medical profession and of scientists both in this country and Europe. Its review of many articles that appeared in the leading medical journals was a noteworthy feature.

In January, 1903, the Northern and Cosmopolitan Osteopath and the Journal of the Science of Osteopathy were consolidated and christened The Osteopathic World. Wm. R. Dobbyn and Sons became the owners and publishers, and Dr. J. Martin Littlejohn, editor-in-chief. It has maintained the qualities of the journals of which it was the outgrowth. Not being under the auspices of any college it has shown breadth and independence not always present in some of the journals issued for a specific purpose.

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association was decided upon at the meeting of the American Osteopathic Association at Kirksville, in July, 1901. The first number appeared in September, 1901. It was published bi-monthly the first year; monthly since then. It is the official organ of the American Osteopathic Association and the profession. The proceedings of the association have been published in it each year; other papers pertaining to Osteopathy, news items, etc., have been prominent features. Dr. A. L. Evans has been the editor-in-chief from the first number, and it has been published at Chattanooga, Tennessee. It has gradually grown in size and excellence, till it now ranks among the best scientific and professional journals.

The Osteopathic Physician was launched upon the sea of osteopathic literature in October, 1901. The editor, Dr. H. S. Buiating, was formerly connected with the daily press of St. Louis and Chicago, and had edited the Journal o f Osteopathy. Its mission a t first was that of "a popular journal to aid those who, having health, wish to keep it, and others, having lost health, would regain it." Later Dr. Bunting conceived the idea of issuing a monthly which should be devoted to professional news, the columns of which should also be open for the discussion of all topics of interest to the profession. The Osteopathic Physician has, since March, 1902, confined its attention to this phase of the work. Dr. Bunting laid a proposition before the trustees of the American Osteopathic Association at Milwaukee, in August, 1902, to make the Osteopathic Physician the "official bulletin" of the association. His proposition was accepted and the mutual agreement carried out till December, 1903, when Dr. Bunting tendered the trustees of the American Osteopathic Association the resignation of the Osteopathic Physician as the official bulletin, which was accepted. This action grew out of a controversy between Dr. Bunting and Dr. Hildreth relating to the contest for the recognition of Osteopathy in Alabama. The paper has been issued in Chicago regularly each month, most of the time as a three column quarto, with from four to sixteen pages.

Osteopathic Health, formerly the Osteopathic Physician, appeared under its new title in February, 1902, and has been issued regularly each month since, with Dr. Bunting as its editor. Its mission is to inform the laity concerning progressive, up-to-date health science and the treatment of diseases by a more successful method than giving drugs. It is used largely by osteopaths for distribution within their field of practice as a means for enlightening the people rather than as a medium for advertising themselves.

The Missouri Osteopath was first issued in 1903 or 1904, from Plattsburg, Missouri, with Dr. Chas. E. Boxx, editor. It was sold to Mrs. Annie I. Peters, Kansas City, where it has been published since October, 1904, by the Missouri Osteopathic Publishing Company. Later its name was changed to The Kansas City Osteopath.

Osteopathy, a monthly journal of natural methods in health and disease, is a commendable journal, published by The Osteopathy Co., Atlanta, Georgia. It is now in its second volume.
The Student is in its third volume. It is a monthly publication printed by the students of the American School of Osteopathy, and devoted to their interests.

The Osteopath, The Right Way, and The Osteopathic Herald are the most recent candidates for favor. They are designed for the general reading public and are intended to be used by the profession for promotion purposes.

A number of osteopaths in different parts of the country have tried the plan of issuing a journal for the promotion of their own business and the promulgation of ideas concerning Osteopathy.
Some of these, as the Eastern Osteopath, the Osteopathic Digest, and probably several others, have been creditable journals and have done good in their way. Others have been poorly stocked with material, poorly edited, poorly printed, and probably did much more harm than good. Most of them, fortunately for the profession at large, have been short lived.


Scores of small circulars or booklets have appeared from time to time, issued by individual osteopaths for the purpose of promotion. Many of these have not been objectionable from the character of their contents or the style of their make up; others presented such unmistakable evidence of lack of culture and education that they have, in many cases, tended to bring the profession into disrepute.

Among those most deserving may be mentioned the following: Two by Dr. Chas. Hazzard, one called "Osteopathy the Better Way to Health," the other "The Osteopathic Way is the Best Way;" and Dr. F. J. Fassett's "Osteopathy, Its Theory, History, and Scope, and Its Relation to Other Systems," are scholarly productions suitable for the general reader. Dr. J. Martin Littlejohn's pamphlets entitled "The Science of Osteopathy," "A Treatise on Osteopathy," and "Osteopathy - What It Is," are more elaborate than the first mentioned and appeal to the scientist as well as the average layman. Mentioning the above is not intended to exclude others belonging to the same class, probably just as meritorious.


"The Osteopathic Year Book" is the only representative of its class. It is edited and published by Wm. R. Dobbyn & Sons, Minneapolis. The first number was given to the public in May, 1904. It contains a complete directory of the profession, a brochure on Osteopathy, by Dr. E. R. Booth; a Digest of State Osteopathic Laws; and much valuable information concerning osteopathic organizations and colleges. The second number appeared in May, 1905. Besides the complete directory of the profession, it contains a brief report of the St. Louis meeting of the American Osteopathic Association; an elaborate article on "Comparative Therapeutics," by Carl P. McConnell, M. D., D. C.; a history of Osteopathy the last twelve months; legal and legislative notes; lists of books and authors; publications; colleges; sanitariums; college societies; state, district, and local societies; state osteopathic boards; a roster of state society officials; and a digest of osteopathic laws.


Several charts have been published which are useful to the osteopath and helpful in explaining to others the effects of disturbances to the physical organism. Among these may be mentioned Eales' and Taber's, Littlejohn's and Dunnington's, Helmer's Welsh's, Smith's, and probably others of decided merit.