Remembering the Forgotten Seattle College of Chiropractic

[originally published in KCN, September 2013]

A chiropractic college in Seattle?  Bizarre.  That’s what I first thought when I heard about it.

Chiropractic Diploma Seattle 1a- retouch

Chiropractic history has always fascinated me — especially when I come across a tidbit relatively unknown to most (and in my backyard to boot).  In my book, the Seattle College of Chiropractic qualifies as a trivia-worthy datum.

Seattle College of Chiropractic AdUnearthing information on this forgotten chiropractic college has proven to be a real challenge.  Interestingly, it seemed everyone had a chiropractic school in the early days.  When DD Palmer first introduced chiropractic in 1895, he was very protective of it and was afraid others would steal his discovery.


However, following a near death train wreck, he took up the wisdom promoted by his son BJ and decided to share his skill on a much grander level.  For in his brush with death, he realized chiropractic could have easily suffered the same fate.  Consequently, in 1897, he opened what would soon be known as the Palmer School of Chiropractic.  Early graduates were licensed to both “teach and practice,” and many did just that, advertising to both patients and students alike.

Upwards of 600 chiropractic learning institutions have been recorded since Palmer first started teaching — a number that can be whittled down to about 250 if name changes, mergers, acquisitions, and satellite schools are taken into account.  Today there are 42 chiropractic colleges and universities worldwide.

The Seattle College of Chiropractic was open from 1918 to 1931, the same time frame the number of chiropractic schools was at its peakPeoples Bank Building. Unfortunately, the college seemed to have a spotty reputation.

It was constantly on the move, having at least four different locations in the Emerald City.  Their first location occupied two small rooms on the fourth floor of the People’s Bank Building on 2nd and Pike. Today a parking structure occupies the space.

One graduate, whose first patients called him “Dr. Wow,” recalled tuition was “$750 and a stack of books.”  Apparently they purported to teach “straight chiropractic only.”  But another source conflicted with this pure and unmixed motto, explaining that they also taught degrees in naturopathic and sanipractic healing methods.

Young-Dr.-BastyrCertainly the college’s biggest claim to fame lies with Dr. John Bastyr, the namesake of well-known Bastyr University.  Known as the “father of modern naturopathic medicine,” many don’t know he first became a chiropractor at Seattle College of Chiropractic before going on to become a naturopath.

Some spoke highly of the college, calling it a “branch of the Palmer School at Davenport” instructed by its graduates, while another described the Seattle president’s disdain and arrogant aura of superiority over BJ and the Palmer school.  Perhaps this is why I noticed what seemed to be abrupt and unconventional rotation in faculty positions.

When I first started practice seventeen years ago, many of my elderly patients wanted to know where I graduated.  With such an array of chiropractic learning possibilities in the beginning — and lack of any kind of accrediting agency to set educational standards — it’s no wonder that question was top of mind for them. Thankfully, times have changed and chiropractic educational institutions have seen incredible advancement in this area.

And so while the Seattle College of Chiropractic is an interesting bit of trivia for this Northwest chiropractor-history-buff — and my quest to learn more about it is not over — it seems that its disappearance was inevitable and probably best. I guess my first thought wasn’t too far off:  bizarre.


Dr. Thomas R. Lamar is a chiropractor at Anchor Chiropractic in the Health Services Center and hosts the Internet radio program Lamar can be reached at (360) 297-8111.


sources used for this article:
Click Here for a Sourced Timeline of the Seattle College of Chiropractic.
Click Here to listen to our report on the Seattle College of Chiropractic on Spinal Column Radio, episode 167.
Clymer. Natura Physician: inculcating the natura system of therapeutics for the prevention and elimination of disease. Kessinger Publishing. 2005.
Fergusson and Wiese.  How many chiropractic schools? an analysis of institutions that offered the D.C. degree.  Chiropractic History. 8 (1) pp 26-36. 1988.
Fishbien.  Naturopathy and its professors. 1932.
John Sagadahl History. Blog post.  Attended SCC in 1928.  (States location was 6th and Pine).
Keating.  Chronology of the O’neil-Ross Chiropractic College. National Institute of Chiropractic Research. 2004. (location: 401 Lowman Building; Lowman Building in Pioneer Square on 1st and Cherry).’neilRoss/o’neil_rosscc_chronology.pdf
Nature Doctors Notes for information on John Bastyr, DC, ND.
Peters and Chance.  Chiropractic in Australia 1905-1945.  The searby saga:  a story of hardships and determination. Chiropractic Journal of Australia. 31 pp. 17-32. 2007.
People’s Bank Building (1927 photo). Museum of History and Industry Photograph Collection. University of Washington. Seattle, Washington.  (location: 2nd and Pike).
Seattle College of Chiropractic.  (Advertisements). Issaquah Press. June 24, 1921, (location:  People’s Bank Building).
Seattle College of Chiropractic diploma for CHARLES GUY HODSON. November 15, 1922. signers: N. Campbell DC PhC, Belle D. Grunewald DC PhC, Christian A. Traub DC PhC, C.H. Grunewald DC PhC, N.A. Jepson BSc DC, George F. Ossinger DC PhC.
Seattle College of Chiropractic. Learn Chiropractic Ad.  (states a location of 6-16 Economy Building, First Avenue at Pike)
Wiese and Callender.  How many chiropractic schools?  an update.  Chiropractic History. 27 (2) pp 89-119. 2007.
Wilburn. (SCC graduate photo) 1925.
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