Celebrating women: The “First Lady of Chiropractic” Mabel Palmer

The profession of chiropractic has historically been driven by men, but women have been making their mark upon the chiropractic profession since its inception over 125 years ago. At a time when women weren’t allowed to vote, women chiropractors were practicing and accomplishing many firsts.

Mabel Palmer

Mabel Palmer, known as the first “Lady of Chiropractic” stands as a shining example. She  left an indelible mark on the profession through her dedication to education, advocacy, and empowerment.

Chiropractic Anatomy


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, Illinois, where she acquired the knowledge necessary to return to Palmer and take over teaching anatomy and dissection. She wrote the first Chiropractic Anatomy book (1918) for chiropractic students and was an instructor at the Palmer School for more than 35 years.

Despite the prevailing gender norms of her time, Mabel Palmer’s impact extended far beyond the confines of the Palmer School. She was a staunch advocate for the integration of scientific principles into chiropractic education and practice, emphasizing the importance of specific chiropractic care. Mabel’s efforts helped elevate the professional standards of chiropractic and solidify its position within the healthcare landscape.

Mabel Pic

Beyond her administrative duties, Mabel was a leader and inspiration to female chiropractors, her influence evident in her pamphlet, “A Woman’s Appeal to Women”, which was published in the early 1920s. In this pamphlet Mabel encourages women to consider a career in chiropractic. She states, “Never before has there been such wonderful opportunities to women for practical service; and in my opinion, there is no better profession in the whole world so splendidly adapted to women as CHIROPRACTIC.” She asked women to “think of the children” and to tap into their “feminine qualities of patience and sympathy” in order to help the ailing and ultimately “to grow intellectually, socially and financially.”

Mabel Palmer’s influence extended beyond her lifetime, shaping the course of chiropractic history for generations to come. Her legacy serves as a beacon of inspiration for all practitioners, particularly women, who aspire to make a meaningful impact in healthcare. By honouring Mabel’s contributions and celebrating the achievements of women in chiropractic, we pay tribute to their resilience, determination, and unwavering dedication to advancing the profession.


In conclusion, Mabel Heath Palmer’s story is one of courage, leadership, and empowerment. From her pioneering efforts in chiropractic education to her advocacy for women in the profession, Mabel’s legacy continues to inspire and uplift. Her enduring impact serves as a reminder of the transformative power of individuals who dare to challenge the status quo and strive for excellence in service to others.