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Dynamic Chiropractic – May 1, 2000, Vol. 18, Issue 10

A Moment of Silence for Paul Smallie, DC, HCD

By Joseph Keating Jr., PhD
Paul Smallie, DC, passed away at his home in Stockton, California on Wednesday, March 29, 2000 after an illness of several months. He was 86 years young and had practiced chiropractic all of his adult life. He is survived by his wife, Margaret, three children and 11 grandchildren. Dr. Smallie has been an advocate of greater unity through reason throughout his 65 years as a chiropractor, and has been a friend and confidant to many of the leaders of the profession throughout the middle years of its history. He is well known to chiropractors around the globe, chiefly through the vehicle of his newspaper, the World-Wide Report, which he edited and published for several decades.

Books Authored by Dr. Smallie

  • The Guiding Light of Ratledge. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1963.
  • Chiropractic Encyclopedia. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1968.
  • Ratledge Manuscript. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1971.
  • Ratledge Philosophy. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1979.
  • Scientific Chiropractic. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1984.
  • Getting the Chiropractic Show on the Road. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1985.
  • Happy/Healthy Way to Live. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1985.
  • The Opening of the Chiropractic Mind. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1988.
  • Encyclopedia Chiropractica, third edition. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1990.
  • Introduction to Ratledge Files and Ratledge Manuscript. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1990.
  • Chiropractic History. Stockton, CA: World-Wide Books, 1992.

Paul was born in Madera, California on 22 August 1913, the fourth of four sons. His father was a Scottish immigrant, and his mother's family had come to California from Texas in a covered wagon. His father's early death (when Paul was 11) fostered self-reliance in the Smallie boys, who came to know chiropractic care early in their lives. During high school and following his graduation from high school at age 15, Paul worked as a reporter for the Fresno Bee. He subsequently apprenticed as a pharmacist and enrolled at Fresno State College. He majored in psychology and philosophy and completed his laboratory studies in the basic sciences. His brother Roy graduated from the Texas Chiropractic College (TCC) in 1929, and Paul was persuaded to take up the young healing art. He attended a few classes at TCC and at the San Francisco Chiropractic College before enrolling in the Ratledge Chiropractic College of Los Angeles. Part of the attraction was his many philosophy discussions with the school's founder, political activist T.F. Ratledge,DC, a 1907 Carver Chiropractic College graduate (Keating et al., 1991, 1992). Their dialogue would continue until his mentor's demise in 1967. Paul's many books attempted to preserve the principles he learned at his alma mater.

Paul completed the 2,400 hour curriculum at Ratledge College (today's Cleveland Chiropractic College of Los Angeles) on 13 December 1935. His schoolmates included Al Santamuro (future dean of the Hollywood Chiropractic College), George Haynes (future president of the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic [LACC] and president of the Council on Chiropractic Education), and Haynes' cousin, Henry Higley, future research director for the LACC and the National Chiropractic Association (NCA). Bud Shrader was another of Dr. Paul's classmates, and one of four siblings who would become chiropractors, including 1940 Ratledge alumnus, Ted Shrader,DC, long-time secretary of the American Chiropractic Association's Council on Technic.

Ratledge students were exposed to the theories and techniques espoused by chiropractic's legendary leader, B.J. Palmer, but found the developer "himself" a bit eerie. Paul recalled that B.J.:

...stared at the ceiling, as though he were reading something printed....he may have had a photographic mind or something, and he merely mouthed what he was reading....he didn't look at the students, not eye-ball to eye-ball contact....later on I had eye-ball to eye-ball conferences with him, which I didn't appreciate too much....I didn't respect him as much as I was expected to respect him...I respected many of the things he was accomplishing....but he came through to me like....this guy expects people to run around after him like a puppy dog, and I wasn't about to join his group... (Smallie, 1992).

The nation was in the midst of the great economic depression when Paul established his first practices in Fresno and Modesto. Later, Dr. Paul became an associate of W.G. Keys,DC, and established a number of branch offices in 1937-39, including clinics in Stockton, Modesto, Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere. During 1939-40, Dr. Smallie was employed at the busy Sacramento clinic of Raymond Shane,DC, where he saw as many as 100 patients per day.

Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941. He was assigned to the "medical department of the United States Army, and I was stationed first at Scofield and then Fort Kameamea" and later at Tripler General Hospital in Honolulu. He found military medicine quite different from the civilian version, especially the nature of the doctor-patient relationship. Dr. Paul believed this difference was attributable to the lack of concern about fees, and that the MDs were able to devote their undivided attention to the concerns and welfare of patients. Paul learned a great deal in this hospital experience, perhaps most importantly about emergency medicine (first aid). As an Army private he adjusted doctors, dentists and patients, and his status as a chiropractor was widely known (Smallie, 1992). His memories of the horrors surrounding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 were too painful for him to discuss. He was honorably discharged in 1942.

Returning to private practice in San Francisco, Paul was an active participant in the 1942 campaign by chiropractors that resulted in defeat of the California Medical Association's proposed basic science law. Dr. Paul also testified as an expert witness in several landmark court cases, including Hunt et al. vs. the Board of Chiropractic Examiners. The case challenged the BCE's right to exclude blind applicants from sitting for the licensing exam and the BCE's authority to raise chiropractic educational standards from the 2,400 hours mandated by the Chiropractic Act of 1922 to the more than 4,000 hours now required. Although initially successful, the jury's findings for Hunt et al. were later overturned by a higher court. A 1948 initiative cemented the court-ordered changes in the curriculum, but also mandated that blindness would not limit an individual's right to practice chiropractic in California.

During 1946-47, Dr. Smallie taught at the San Francisco College of Chiropractic, which was then owned and operated by Mrs. Honora Russell. Through the efforts of NCA's director of education, John Nugent,DC, the SFCC merged with the newly non-profit LACC in 1947. Dr. Paul's allegiances in the middle and late 1940s were with Ratledge and against the broad-scope policies of the NCA and Nugent. Owing to the new standards mandated by the 1948 revision of the Chiropractic Act, the Ratledge school was forced to close its doors temporarily during 1949-50, and operated "under Cleveland management" from 1951 to 1955, when its sale to Carl Cleveland Sr.,DC, was finalized. During 1949-1956, Paul was a participant in the "Chiropractic Forum." This irregular body, which had been organized by T.F. Ratledge, was comprised of concerned chiropractors who met monthly to discuss critical issues confronting the profession.

Paul moved his practice to Stockton, California in 1951, and later operated satellite clinics in Modesto and Turlock. In this period he also worked part-time with his brother, Robert, in the Stockton branch of the San Francisco Chronicle's circulation department. In January 1951, he met Margret Lloyds, a ballet dancer referred to him for knee and shoulder problems. The couple married on 8 February 1953, and their first child, daughter Marlies, was born on 8 November 1953. The future Dr. Don Smallie made his debut on 9 September 1955, and second son, Dennis, was born on 22 February 1957.

In this era also, Dr. Paul combined his interests in chiropractic and journalism. He started work on the first of several books on the philosophy of chiropractic expounded by T.F. Ratledge (see Table 1 on page 12). Begun "as a hobby," the World-Wide Report was at first a news service provided free of charge to any interested chiropractic editor in exchange for regular receipt of the editor's magazine or journal. Paul immersed himself in the chiropractic periodical literature, from which he extracted items of potential interest to the profession at large. Editors received a summary of these news items from Dr. Paul, and were at liberty to publish the column, so long as they gave credit to the World-Wide Report. Dr. Paul's letter of introduction to chiropractic editors expressed his intent. He proposed to read a vast array of chiropractic periodic literature, and to provide a headline digest of new and worthy articles:

Dear Fellow-Editor:

In a recent survey of chiropractic leaders, the evidence was unmistakably presented in united agreement that what the profession is most in need of is an exchange of ideas. It is with this though in mind that "World-Wide Report" is created...

I sincerely hope you feel as I do, that a column of this sort has unlimited potentialities in making available to all chiropractors throughout the world the highlights of some of the articles in your publications that would otherwise go unread by, and be denied to, the readers of other publications not covered by your mailing list. (Smallie, 1959).

Dr. Smallie was a member of the Chiropractic Health Bureau and its successor, the International Chiropractors' Association, since his student days at the Ratledge College. He always felt a great frustration that the ICA and its rival, the NCA, had not been able to work together cooperatively:
...that was the primary concern with help in any way that I could to draw the two associations together. It seemed to me so defeating to have two associations constantly fighting, and at that particular time they were really its somewhat camouflaged... (Smallie, 1992).

In the late 1950s, the World-Wide Report was adopted as a regular column by Mr. Bill Luckey, editor and publisher of the newly launched Digest of Chiropractic Economics; Paul served as an associate editor of the Digest for several years, and became widely known in the profession. His opinions were quoted by B.J. Palmer in the Fountain Head News, and his skills were solicited by the California Chiropractic Association (CCA). The CCA named Dr. Smallie to succeed L.W. Berry,DC, as editor of its Journal. Paul served as editor of the Journal of the CCA from August 1964 through 1969, and in this capacity further encouraged unity among chiropractors.

In August 1967, the World-Wide Report became an independent newspaper. At about the same time, Dr. Paul was instrumental in the formation of the Chiropractic Press Guild, and he served as the Guild's first president. (Dr. Smallie was succeeded in this post by Ernest Napolitano,DC, president of the Columbia Institute of Chiropractic.) Dr. Smallie's continuing goal of professional unity was reflected in an editorial in the LACC's Chirogram, in which he noted with considerable satisfaction that the Chirogram was willing to print news and announcements about activities at a major rival institution, Palmer College in Davenport (Smallie, 1967). In 1968, Dr. Paul released the second of the dozen or so books he published, and arranged to have half of the proceeds donated to the LACC.

In 1969, the World-Wide Report was renamed The Chiropractic Union, a moniker which better reflected Dr. Paul's intentions for it. In 1970, Paul was named executive director of the ICA of California (ICAC) and served in this capacity and as editor of the ICAC's journal until 1977. Dr. Paul was recognized for his service to the profession in 1972 when the Columbia Institute of Chiropractic (now the New York Chiropractic College) awarded him the "doctor of humanities" (HCD). The following year Paul's long-time friend, David D. Palmer, president of the Palmer College of Chiropractic, named Dr. Smallie to membership in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic. About this time Paul's son, Don, commenced his studies at Palmer College; since his graduation in 1976, Dr. Don practiced with his father in Stockton.

Paul Smallie established warm friendships with many leaders in the profession. He recalled Dr. George Haynes as a "very principled man, an intellectual, and his knowledge of chemistry was astounding....he did a great job for LACC" (Smallie, 1992). Concerning B.J. Palmer, he notes that "he was an advantage as well as a disadvantage; there was a time when BJ's approval determined what was and was not "acceptable chiropractic literature" (Smallie, 1992). Of his friend Jim Parker, DC, Paul noted:

I dealt extensively and still do with Jim Parker and I have a certain amount of respect for Jim Parker that others don't seem to have the same appreciation that I have....chiropractic was ready to throw in the sponge, they were not in good shape at all. But along on the white horse arrived Jim Parker to the rescue and the profession began to change....he influenced their optimism... (Smallie, 1992).

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
Paul Smallie,DC, with his friend, A. Earl Homewood, DC,ND,LLB at the 1965 convention of the California Chiropractic Association.

Reflecting on Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College's former president, A. Earl Homewood, DC, ND,LLB, Dr. Smallie noted:

The first time I met him I was very impressed with his lecture....he was a man who didn't hesitate to be different. So many of them felt that they had to conform, but he was a man who, if he knew that something different was important, he supported it.... (Smallie, 1992).

The longtime president of the National College of Chiropractic was yet another pen pal:
Dr. Janse and I were very good friends....we had a mutual respect...he knew his chiropractic. He's been interpreted in many instances as being more medical than chiropractic, but I don't agree with that... (Smallie, 1992).

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
Officers of the AHC gather at the LACC to honor AHC's 1992 Lee-Homewood Lifetime Heritage Award winner, Dr. Paul Smallie. From left: W. Heath Quigley,DC,MS (former LACC president); Herb Vear,DC,FCCS (AHC president); Paul Smallie,DC; Joe Keating,PhD (AHC board member).

Chiropractor-anthropologist Clarence Weiant,DC,PhD, was recalled as:

....a very fine friend of mine....we had some private correspondence before B.J. Palmer passed away....there had been some misunderstanding between those two....we were able to clear up some of that....Weiant was a very fine man. He was pioneering, like Dr. C.O. Watkins, in making the profession science-minded.... (Smallie, 1992).

For nearly four decades, Paul Smallie was a consciousness-raising force in the profession. A major theme in Dr. Smallie's writings has been his interpretation of T.F. Ratledge's teachings. This so-called "Ratledge philosophy" is an adiagnostic approach to health care, or what might also be characterized as a holistic "field theory" of human biology. Like his mentor, Paul conceptualized human beings as integrated wholes who interact dynamically with their environments more or less successfully, thereby demonstrating greater or lesser degrees of health and illness.

Perhaps his most important legacy has been his persistent efforts to encourage unity in the profession. The most visible evidence of this passion was his World-Wide Report. Those who have known Paul well have also been impressed by the steady stream of semi-private correspondence that passed from his pen to a wide range of chiropractic thinkers. Paul Smallie worked behind the scenes for three decades in an attempt pry open the chiropractic mind and identify areas of potential agreement among the profession's leaders. This very private man bared himself time and again in his campaign for a united chiropractic. The words of the New Testament "Blessed are the peacemakers," seem especially fitting at this time.

Paul was honored by the Association for the History of Chiropractic (AHC) at its 12th annual Conference on Chiropractic History, held at the LACC. The AHC conferred upon him the Lee-Homewood Award in recognition of his career-long contributions to the profession he loved.
Paul Smallie was my first mentor in chiropractic, and I am indebted to him for bringing the world of chiropractic literature to my attention. He has been critical and generous, and has helped me to understand the chiropractic alternative that so excited him nearly six decades ago. Thank you, Dr. Paul. You will be dearly missed.


  • Keating JC, Brown RA, Smallie P. Tullius de Florence Ratledge: the missionary of straight chiropractic in California. Chiropractic History 1991 (Dec);11(2):26-38.
  • Keating JC, Brown RA, Smallie P. One of the roots of straight chiropractic: Tullius de Florence Ratledge. In: Sweere JJ (Ed.) Chiropractic Family Practice, volume 1. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, 1992.
  • Smallie P. Letter to chiropractic editors, 17 July 1959 (Archives of the Stockton Foundation for Chiropractic Research).
  • Smallie P. Letter to chiropractic authors, editors, writers. Chirogram 1967 (Aug);34(8):186-7.
  • Smallie P. Interview with J.C. Keating, 31 May 1992 (Palmer College of Chiropractic/West archives).

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