History of Osteopathy
(and Twentieth-Century Medical Practice)

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


THE compilation of the HISTORY OF OSTEOPATHY AND TWENTIETH-CENTURY MEDICAL PRACTICE was not undertaken because of a pressing demand. It seemed to have dawned upon the mind of several osteopaths about the same time that such a work ought to be issued during the life of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still and others most intimately connected with the origin and early development of the science. The author was requested by several of his professional friends to undertake the work, which he did with much reluctance. He felt that he had a great responsibility resting upon him. Once thoroughly entered upon the work, the magnitude of the task became evident; but the richness of the mine of truth in which he was delving, made the search one of constantly growing interest.

Direct information was obtained from Dr. A. T. Still and from many who were intimate with him before Osteopathy was known and during its process of development. Many of the facts given are drawn from the author's personal knowledge; and others are from traditions or unwritten history which has become the common property of scores who are acquainted with the development of Osteopathy and with those who have known Dr. Still for years.

The chapters relating to other systems of medicine and methods of procedure in treating diseases of the human body were not contemplated in the original plan. In order that Osteopathy might be seen in its true relations, and its independent position in the science and art of healing be fully understood, it seemed necessary to present a few facts concerning present medical practices. This was the more imperative because of the vilification and constant misrepresentation of Osteopathy by the established medical profession. It will require no stretch of the imagination to see that the facts at first sight apparently foreign to Osteopathy are an integral part of the history. Whether Osteopathy is either technically or legally the practice of medicine is left for the reader to decide after perusing Chapters IV and V. That it is a complete system of healing is evident, and the historic presentation of Osteopathy, without showing its relations to and differentiations from other systems would be to omit an essential historic feature.

It may be objected that the author has cited practically only one authority, Wilder's "History of Medicine," in Chapter X, and but one, Cohen's "System of Physiological Therapeutics," in Chapter XII. Most of the statements made by them could be verified by other unquestionable authorities; but the writers quoted, being reputed for their extensive learning and exalted character, are considered sufficient.

Credit has been given in the body of the work to the sources of information; and the exact words have generally been quoted, rather than a restatement of the facts and reference to the authorities. This was for the purpose of giving the reader the original information upon the subjects presented.

A vast amount of information is available which has not been used in this compilation. It is hoped that all osteopathic literature, including journals, pamphlets, circulars, charts, books, proceedings of associations, etc., will be carefully preserved and placed in the archives of the American Osteopathic Association, where they may be available for future use. Each state and local society should also see that all bearing upon the introduction and growth of Osteopathy within its boundaries is carefully systematized and preserved. If this is done, the future historian will have the material at hand which will enable him to prepare a work worthy of the cause.

Valuable aid has been rendered by Dr. R. G. Lewis and Dr. Eliza Edwards, who read most of the manuscript. As changes have been made since they read it, it would not be fair to suppose they were guilty of permitting errors to creep into the text. While many have contributed to the work, the author only should be held responsible for the errors.

An apology might be in order for departing, more than once, from the unbiased attitude of the historian, as when the author says of a criticism of Osteopathy, "that it would require a past-master of the order of Ananias, and Baconian terseness, to condense a greater number of falsehoods in so short a space." But an historian has a right to state facts with which he is familiar, and may be pardoned if he uses language intended to make his meaning unmistakable, the same as any one else would in speaking of current events. An apology might also be in order for the appearance of some of the illustrations. They may not meet with the approval of many; but they express too much that is transpiring in the ranks of those interested in the present practice of medicine to be overlooked. Others showing the merry war in progress between the conflicting drug interests, would have been presented, had they not been so unethical as to shock the moral sense.

Personally, the writer wishes to say that this is not his first experience in advocating a cause unpopular with a profession. He remembers how he and a few of his friends were looked upon with disdain, and even ridiculed by his professional brethren, for advocating manual training. Sixteen years ago, there were not half a dozen educators in Ohio who were advocates of that new element in education; now there are not half a dozen who value their reputations who would dare raise their voices against it. So today the author is one of the very few of the great aggregate of physicians of all schools who openly advocates Osteopathy; but he expects to live to see the day when not half a dozen physicians who value their reputations will dare raise their voices against it. Intelligence is too widely disseminated for any profession to ignore progress.

The author requests those finding errors in this volume to communicate with him, in order that they may be corrected.


Cincinnati, Ohio, June, 1905.