Organizing the First Chiropractic Associations

125 Years of Chiropractic 

Chiropractic medicine celebrates its 125th anniversary this year! To praise all that has been accomplished over the last 125 years, each month we will focus on a different achievement or innovation from chiropractic history. Last month, we covered 1920-1930 and the neurocalometer and thermography. This month, we will dive into the formation of the National Chiropractic Association (NCA) and other key milestones from 1930-1940.

The Early Beginnings of Chiropractic Organizations

Contrary to popular belief, the first chiropractic organization was the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), founded in 1905. According to ACA Today, this organization “was essentially an alumni group of the American School of Chiropractic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Both ACA and the college disappeared around 1918. . . In September 1922 another ACA2 was established in Chicago as an alternative to the UCA.1

The Universal Chiropractors’ Association (UCA) was founded shortly thereafter in 1906 at the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. This organization was formed by B.J. Palmer, the son of chiropractic as we mentioned in previous posts within this series. This organization was formed to provide different legal protections to chiropractors who were being charged with the “unlicensed practice of medicine2.” Rather than admitting guilt, the UCA would try every chiropractor’s case, which by 1930 amounted to 15,000 prosecutions.3 Needless to say, their agenda was primarily focused on legal defenses for chiropractors. 

Despite the UCA’s commitment to legal action in defense of chiropractors, there was quite a bit of distaste for the organization and B.J. Palmer.3 This led to the formation of the second American Chiropractic Association (ACA). According to The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, the ACA planned to “organize licensed DCs into a democratically run and genuinely ‘professional’ organization, one that provided legal protection, pushed for liberal chiropractic legislation, was free of any ‘school control’ and which would press for higher standards of education.3

Regardless of the differences between the UCA and ACA, the two organizations merged in 1930 to form the National Chiropractic Association (NCA).

The National Chiropractic Association

The formation of the NCA was a unifying movement in the field of chiropractic—and marked how much chiropractic medicine had changed since it began. Although this organization was formed by two very different entities, it established its own tenets for supporting chiropractors. In The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association’s article “The origins and early history of the National Chiropractic Association,” “early activities of the NCA extended far beyond the legal protections and insurance activities of the UCA, and beyond the later legislative and educational standardization efforts of the ACA.3 The NCA would continue to act as a beacon—guiding chiropractors toward future possibilities within the field. 

The Founding of the State Licensing Boards

Following the merger of the UCA and ACA to form the NCA, the U.S. Council of State Chiropractic Examining Boards was established in 1933. This state licensing board was formed as a way to provide chiropractors with a unified set of standards for being licensed to practice in the United States. Additionally, this board worked to provide chiropractors with information related to regulation, discipline, and education in their field.4 Today, this organization is known as the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB).

Looking Ahead

As we continue our journey through the many achievements and innovations in chiropractic over the last 125 years, next month we will focus on trigger points, dry needling, and acupuncture in chiropractic. 

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1Hug, P. Reginald. “50 Years of Accomplishment.” American Chiropractic Association, 2013,

2Keating Jr., Joseph. “Milestones in the History of Chiropractic.” Dynamic Chiropractic, 2006,

3Keating, Joseph C, and William S Rehm. “The Origins and Early History of the National Chiropractic Association.” The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 1993,

4“Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Apr. 2020,

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