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Women’s History Month: Mabel Palmer, D.C.

Mabel Palmer, D.C., F.P.A.C.

March is Women’s History Month and we are taking a look back at the First Lady of Chiropractic.

Mabel Heath Palmer, D.C., F.P.A.C. is much heralded in the chiropractic field. She was a leader and inspiration to female chiropractors, successfully combining her role as wife and mother with teaching at Palmer for more than four decades.

Mabel was born in Milan, Ill., and attended Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., where she sang in the chorus. She met B.J. Palmer, D.C., while she was an apprentice organist. They married in 1904. She became a doctor of chiropractic in 1905. Mabel served as the Palmer treasurer and business manager, continuing in that role as the school continued to prosper. Later she attended Rush Medical College in Chicago, Ill., where she acquired the knowledge necessary to return to Palmer and take over teaching anatomy and dissection. She wrote the first anatomy textbook for chiropractic students and was an instructor at the Palmer School for more than 35 years.

Mabel was a close and valued adviser to her husband. She was a popular lecturer throughout the chiropractic profession and became known as The First Lady of Chiropractic. She formed the Sigma Phi Chi professional sorority in 1911.

Mabel also was an active civic leader. She was elected international president of Quota Club, which promoted gender equality and empowered women. And she formed the first Quota chapter in Australia. She also served on Lend-A-Hand’s (now Center for Active Seniors, Inc.) board of trustees.

She died in 1949. She was posthumously named a distinguished Fellow in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic in 2006.

More Notable Women in Chiropractic:

Minora Paxson, D.C.Minora Paxson, D.C.: Unlike many professions in the early 20th century, chiropractic counted a sizable number of women among its practitioners. After earning her chiropractic degree at D.D. Palmer’s Chiropractic School and Cure in 1903, Dr. Paxson is reputed to have been the first chiropractor to obtain a license under the Illinois Medical Practice Act, which regulated drugless health-care providers.




Sylva Ashworth, D.C.Sylva Ashworth, D.C.: Dr. Ashworth helped champion the cause of chiropractic as a founder of the Universal Chiropractors’ Association (UCA) — today’s American Chiropractic Association (ACA) — which was formed to defend chiropractors from legal prosecution.




Find more about the Leading Ladies of Palmer Chiropractic College.

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