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Dynamic Chiropractic – December 14, 2000, Vol. 18, Issue 26

The Search for a Science of Straight Chiropractic: Herbert Marshall Himes, D.C., Ph.C., F.I.C.C.

By Joseph Keating Jr., PhD
Born in Chicago on 3 September 1910 (Himes, 1980), Herbert Marshall Himes became aware of chiropractic through vaudeville friends who always carried "Palmergrams" (Keating, 1997, p. 148). On the advice of his chiropractor, he enrolled at the Palmer School of Chiropractic (PSC) just as the Great Depression commenced. He recalls that he and his classmates received "B.J.'s personal supervision" in learning the HIO ("Hole-in-One"), upper cervical technique and neurocalometer use (Himes, 1980). Palmer "made my class into the best togglers there ever were," he recalled, but he and his peers also learned "full-spine adjusting" (Himes, 1980). Himes described his relationship with the PSC's president as "instant love and hate." He earned his D.C. from the Davenport school in 1931 (Dzaman et al., 1980) and established his first practice in Chicago (Himes, 1980).

After 14 years of practice in the Windy City, Dr. Himes relocated his family to Waukegan, Illinois. He had married Eva Lois Meyer, daughter of Palmer graduates, in 1940, and they raised two children. [Daugher-in-law Fay and granddaughter Shamin Himes are also chiropractors.] He became seriously ill in 1946 and returned to his alma mater for treatment. As he recuperated, he took up teaching responsibilities, earning the Ph.C. in 1950 (Dzaman et al., 1980). Himes was named head of the PSC's Technique Department in 1953, which he noted was, at that time, "in a shambles" (Himes, 1980).

Table: Several papers authored by H.M. Himes, D.C.

  • Perception: its relationship to chiropractic practice. ICA Review of Chiropractic 1949 (June); 3(12): 19-20

  • Visual perception: its relationship to chiropractic practice. ICA Review of Chiropractic 1949 (July); 4(1): 26-7

  • Visual perception: its relationship to chiropractic practice. ICA Review of Chiropractic 1949 (Aug); 4(22): 28-9

  • New program integrates research and curriculum. ICA Review of Chiropractic 1960a; February: 10-11, 32

  • Practical experience intensified for student. ICA Review of Chiropractic 1960b; March: 7-9

  • Dean's report. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 1963 (Aug/Sept); 7(4): 5

  • Anticipated results. ICA Review of Chiropractic 1960c; April: 8-10

  • Message from the Dean. Cornerstone (CMCC yearbook), 1964-65

  • The challenge of our future. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1968a (July/Aug); 11(1): 18-20

  • The challenge of our future. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1968b (Sept/Oct); 11(2): 28-30

  • The challenge of our future. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1968c (Nov/Dec); 11(3): 24-7

  • The challenge of our future. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1969a (Jan/Feb); 11(4): 24-6 The challenge of our future. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1969b (May/June); 11(6): 8-11

  • The challenge of our future. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1969c (July/Aug); 12(1): 28, 30, 32

  • The challenge of our future. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1969d (Sept/Oct); 12(2): 20-3

Dr. Himes gradually assumed administrative control of the school's training clinics. As a faculty member and administrator, he was much in demand on the lecture circuit, and traveled throughout Canada and the United States on behalf of the PSC (e.g., Chiropractor, 1957; Chiropractors, 1956; Dr. H.M. Himes, 1959; Homewood, 1955; News, 1949; To Address, 1956; Visiting, 1954). Particularly memorable was an address presented at the private clinic in Spartanburg, South Carolina of his friend and former fellow Palmer administrator, Lyle W. Sherman, D.C. (Chiropractor, 1956). It was during this period that he also commenced his literary contributions. As head of the Technique Department, Himes was responsible for re-introducing instruction in full-spine adjusting at the PSC. Following B.J.'s lead, Palmer students disparaged all but upper cervical work, which greatly distressed Dr. Himes. He took his arguments to the "Developer," and persuaded the "Old Man" to broaden the scope of instruction (Himes, 1980).

On 4 January 1956, in a "Policy Talk" that is still recalled by old-timers, Himes announced that instruction in full-spine techniques would be reinstituted, with B.J.'s blessing, although practice in the campus clinics would continue to be restricted to upper cervical methods for a while. Himes was keenly aware that this announcement would elicit strong emotions:


...the program begins as a senior class project this quarter, known as a "Clinic Evaluation" or Pit Class. The Pit Class will be a two- hour class demonstration in the technics of: Taking a case history, physical examination, NCGH analysis, palpation, spinography, and adjustment. It will include the ENTIRE SPINE and will be the foundation block for the eventual establishment of proper, standardized patient handling. These technics, so learned, will, when proper facilities have been provided, extend over into the student clinics, so the student may "learn by doing..."

Observation VI. I plead, I beseech, I beg, I implore you; in short, I'm telling you, do not misrepresent this to your home town Chiropractor. To every writer of an indignant letter, demanding to know what is going on, I shall send a printed copy of this talk as a reply, and, as the saying goes, you shall be "hoist by your own petard."

Observation VII. In case you have any ideas that we are sneaking this into school while B.J. is in Florida, let me close this talk by reading two quotations from recent correspondence with him. "In granting this program, as outlined, with exceptions noted, we do so knowing that if it is RIGHT, it will live and grow in the minds of more people. If it is WRONG, it will die and anything we might stubbornly refuse to yield on would be a dogmatic attitude in dealing with this problem.

I do fully and most heartily concur in getting on top of this program, the sooner the better. We DO give YOU the greenest light we know, to go ahead.(Himes, 1956).

Himes was a strong advocate of ever greater practical experience for students, and sought to integrate clinical instruction with research efforts at the "Fountainhead" (Himes, 1960a-c). He also grew increasingly concerned with the scientific basis for instrumentation in chiropractic, a concern shared by fellow Palmer alumnus (Class of '47) Andy R. Petersen, D.C. (Dr. Andy, 1980). In later years the two would collaborate in the marketing of Petersen's spinal-heat-sensing device, the Synchro-Therme. Following B.J.'s demise in 1961, the PSC was renamed Palmer College of Chiropractic (PCC) by its new president, Dave Palmer, D.C.

Marshall Himes' career took a new turn in 1962. The Davenport Democrat for 10 August 1962 (p. 3) took notice:

Davenporter New Dean of Chiro School

Dr. Herbert M. Himes of Davenport, former director of clinics at Palmer College of Chiropractic, has been named dean of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Toronto.

Dr. Himes has been executive vice president of National Health Education Society Inc. of Atlanta, Ga. since last November.He was the first president of the Davenport Associated Dads club, formed in 1952, and is a Mason and member of Roosevelt Lodge 626.

Dr. Himes, a 1931 Palmer graduate, was in private practice from 1931 to January 1947, when he joined the Palmer faculty and headed the school's technique department.

Mrs. Himes said she plans to join him in Toronto soon. Their children, Marsha, 18, a student at Simpson College, and Dan, 20, attending Iowa State University, Ames, probably will continue their education in Iowa, Mrs. Himes said.

It was a challenging time for the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC). A. Earl Homewood, D.C., N.D., had recently resigned as president and dean of the College, perhaps in frustration over a long legal battle with Metro Toronto (Viggiani, 1964), which had expropriated a portion of the school's first campus to build a subway. Although enrollments were up substantially as Himes took the reins at CMCC (College, 1962), the college's campus expansion plans were suspended owning to the uncertain outcome of the litigation with the transit authority. Himes hit the provincial circuit on behalf of CMCC to seek continuing support in the form of student referrals and donations (College, 1963). He was joined in this effort by CMCC's clinic director, 1942 Lincoln College alumnus Ronald J. Watkins, D.C., Ph.C. Dr. Watkins was subsequently named Assistant Dean (Regular, 1964).

Himes' new position brought him in contact with the political rivals of his alma mater, the National Chiropractic Association (NCA) and its Council on Education (forerunner of today's CCE). As dean of CMCC, he held a seat on the council, commencing in January 1963 (Keating et al., 1998). Himes implemented a number of the council's guidelines within the Canadian school, such as the first granting of formal contracts to faculty members and polishing the curriculum to conform to the council's standards (Canadian, 1963). Although some of CMCC's constituents suspected that Himes was weak in his support of educational upgrading and accreditation by the Council on Education, review of the dean's confidential communications suggests quite the contrary (Himes, 1964c). Dr. Himes was reluctant to require increased pre-professional requirements for admission (e.g., 2 years of liberal arts college), but he strongly encouraged the Board's pursuit of accreditation by the American agency.

When the NCA reorganized in 1963-64 as the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), it was Himes who brought the concerns of Canadian members of the ACA to the attention of the ACA's Board of Governors (Himes, 1964a). In particular, Canadians were concerned that their dues would support only American schools, without fair/adequate distribution to CMCC. They were correct in their misgivings. The ACA and its funding agency, the Foundation for Accredited Chiropractic Education (FACE: predecessor of today's FCER) had already decided that since CMCC could have no standing with the U.S. Office of Education (the federal agency which recognized educational accrediting agencies), the ACA would not provide financial support to the Canadian school at the same level that other Council on Education members enjoyed (Schierholz, 1962).

Instruction in physiotherapeutics had been a contentious issue among the founders of CMCC in 1943 (Keating & Haldeman, 1995), and continued to cause friction during Dr. Himes' term as dean. The western provinces tended to adhere to a "straight" or "hands-only" orientation to practice, while Ontario and Quebec, among the largest of provinces, were disposed to broad-scope practice. Moreover, Ontario, where the college is located, mandated instruction in physiotherapeutics as a condition for licensure. In 1964 it fell to Marshall Himes to state the CMCC Board's latest reiteration of its commitment to provide instruction in these controversial topics:

We have been asked to publish an official statement of our policy concerning Drugless Therapy. In order to clarify our position, I am quoting below from the minutes (duly ratified) of the Annual meeting a few days ago.

The Drugless Therapy Course is made available by the College because we are a college for all of Canada.

  1. Therefore, Drugless Therapy is for the students who want and/or need it for jurisdictional requirements.


  2. Because we are a college for all of Canada, it is, and will remain an optional course, meaning NO student will be required to take it.


  3. Because it is optional, it is extra-curricular.


  4. Because it is extra-curricular and not a substitute for another course, there will be an extra charge.


  5. Because there is an extra charge, the cost will be printed in the calendar."

Our teaching policy is a broad-based policy and is acceptable to all licensing jurisdictions. It is flexible enough in its application, enabling us to qualify any one of our graduates for any licensing jurisdiction in the world. This is the policy to which we will adhere (Himes, 1964b).

If there is one topic for which Herbert Himes' time in Toronto is best remembered, it is the introduction, manufacture and marketing of the "Synchro-Therme," a neurocalometer alternative developed from an earlier device, the "Vasotonometer" (Kyneur & Bolton, 1992), both invented by Himes' friend from Davenport, A.R. Petersen, D.C. (Dr. Andy, 1980). The CMCC had enjoyed some small financial remuneration (Strong, 1964) from the marketing of the "Posturizer" and "Posturometer," which were instruments developed and patented (Canadian, 1965) by the College's "Director of Postural Research," Lyman C. Johnston, D.C. Himes persuaded CMCC's Board of Governors that the Synchro-Therme was a worthy device which could generate even greater, non-tuition revenues for the school. Petersen was invited to Toronto, appointed to the faculty, worked diligently, and produced a successful instrument. With Himes, he authored "Segmental Neuropathy" to accompany the instrument. Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration refused to approve the device (Minutes, 1966), which prevented its importation and leasing in the American states.

Resistance to the Synchro-Therme may have arisen within the ranks of the International Chiropractors' Association (ICA) as well. In any case, Himes was incensed by the actions of the ICA's Department of Investigation, established in 1964 to "evaluate instruments - fight quackery" (Interim, undated). After consulting with CMCC's legal counsel, Himes submitted his resignation from the ICA in a widely distributed letter:

Dear Doctor:
I have been a staunch Palmer alumnus for over thirty years, and still want to see my Alma Mater move on to better things in Chiropractic. I have also been a member of ICA for twenty-one years, and was a CHB member before that. I feel I have the right to make the following statements. This has been put off for some time, but cannot be delayed any longer.

For the last three years, the Palmer College possessed the opportunity and the means to advance the profession in regard to Chiropractic instrumentation. Developments in recent years have shown the NCM and NCGH methodology to be not only of considerably less analytical and diagnostic significance than heretofore realized, but possibly totally obsolete. Palmer College has netted an immense income from the NCM program, and to go to the new work would have meant at least, a temporary loss of that income. Palmer College has therefore been faced with a real conflict of interests, and has apparently chosen to accept the large financial returns accruing from the NCM program rather than apprise the profession of an advanced concept. This can only lead to a retardation of professional development, and eventually reflect to the discredit of Palmer. As an alumnus I must speak against this.

Next, within the last five years, both ICA and the former NCA made inquiries of the Medical Devices Division of the FDA to obtain the files on Chiropractic instrumentation. The FDA agreed to expose their files provided the above organizations would publish the findings of their respective publications, namely the "Review" and the "Journal". This, ICA and NCA refused to do, for reasons that have been kept from the field. We do know the FDA has had assistance not only in the mechanical phases of their evaluations, but in the bio-physical phases as well. Professional Consultants are a part of the FDA organization, and both mechanical and bio-physical factors are necessary to proper evaluation of the use of our instruments. This information is presumably on file with the FDA, but apparently the ICA did not want it published.

Now, under the subterfuge of a "Department of Investigation," ICA proposes to establish an "independent" study group for the purposes of furnishing FDA information which FDA presumably already possesses. Two plus two equals four! Two top men at Palmer, one of them a member of the ICA Board of Control, are members of this Department of Investigation. The ICA and Palmer College have had an intimate association and interrelationship since the inception of ICA. As long as B.J. was alive, it was expected. Upon the passing of B.J. and the untimely passing of Vinton Logan, I held to the opinion that College men would not sit as officers of any Chiropractic political organization. I still hold that opinion. For all the reasons mentioned, I do not feel we can expect any results from the Department of Investigation of ICA other than those which will support the Palmer interests. The field will be led to believe "all is well".

It is my contention that selfish motives will bury progress in the field of instrumentation technology, and "protecting Chiropractic for posterity" has become a trite phrase indeed. The reconciliation of our Philosophy with the know facts of science is at hand, and the above combination could stifle this advancement.

This is the last straw, Doctor, and as I intend to continue to work for the advancement as well as the perpetuation of Chiropractic, I submit this as my resignation from ICA (Himes, 1964d).

Himes continued to promote the Synchro-Therme throughout the profession, and saw the device as a means of encouraging scientific integrity within the profession (Dean, 1965). However, he gradually grew weary of the strenuous demands imposed upon the dean of a struggling institution, and considered the possibility of relocating to Arizona to practice (Himes, 1966). In July 1966, he resigned his position in Toronto, ostensibly to raise money for research (About, 1968), and returned to Illinois to practice. The Synchro-Therme, however, continued to be a topic of investigation at CMCC (e.g., Haldeman, 1970a&b). Dr. Himes' return to private practice did not mark an end to his contributions to the profession. His series of papers, entitled "The challenge of our future," were published in the Digest of Chiropractic Economics in 1968-69 (see Table), and stimulated interest.

In many ways they epitomize many of the conceptual accommodations that many chiropractors attempt to make with science. Himes spoke of a philosophy of chiropractic as a "Philosophy of life" (News, 1949), and followed B.J.'s lead in emphasizing the role of Innate Intelligence in creating global unity and peace. His literary contributions reveal a commitment to make vitalism more scientific. He insisted upon the importance of research in understanding the basic science mechanisms underlying the outcomes of chiropractic care, and took painful public stands on matters he deemed fundamental to scientific integrity (e.g., claims for various clinical instruments). On the other hand, Himes did not question the validity of chiropractic methods. He might question the meaningfulness of some particular theory of subluxation (what he preferred to refer to as the "neuropathic involvement"), but never questioned the effectiveness of the adjustive arts in rectifying such neuropathy. Indeed, his uncritical empiricism, based on what he saw as "an overwhelming mass of clinical 'results'" (Himes, 1968a) led him to believe it appropriate for DCs to "assume that ALL techniques have a value in 'getting results'" (Himes, 1968b). He accepted D.D. Palmer's naive notion that "Chiropractic is a science because it comprises a knowledge of facts concerning health and disease...reduced to law and embodied in a system" (Himes, 1968a). Himes was a stickler for terminology, at least in print. He distinguished between "medicine" (generic) vs. "Medicine" (allopathy) and "diagnosis" (as in chiropractic spinal analysis) vs. "Diagnosis" (part of the allopathic art). He emphasized the importance of repeatedly differentiating between his notion of allopathic concepts and those of chiropractic.

In private, he criticized CMCC's public relations executive, future college President Donald C. Sutherland, D.C., for "trying to establish our similarity to medicine, rather than our difference" (Himes, 1964c). In public, he chastised the "socio-political movement promoted by Chiropractors who contend that Chiropractic is a part of Medicine" (Himes, 1968a). His was a complex ideology, but he seems to have been rather consistent in his beliefs. He is gone now, but Herbert Marshall Himes left his mark on two chiropractic schools and thousands of students and graduates.

In this way he lives on in the hearts of those who respected and admired his passion for the art and science of chiropractic.


  • About the author. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1968 (July/Aug); 11(1): 18-20.
  • Canadian College activities. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 1963 (Aug/Sept); 7(4): 5.
  • Canadian researcher granted United States patent. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 1965 (Apr/May); 9(2): 17.
  • Chiropractor educator to talk at Sherman Clinic. The Spartanburg Journal , 10 May 1956.
  • Chiropractor shop talk. The Lima News (Lima, Ohio), 6 October 1957.
  • Chiropractors plan meeting. The Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), 19 May 1956.
  • College reports: Canadian. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1962 (Dec); 5(3): 13.
  • College reports: Canadian. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1963 (June); 5(6): 48.
  • Dean announces research program. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 1965 (Jan); 9(1): 8.
  • Dr. Andy Petersen talks. Beacon (PCC student newspaper) 1980; July/August, pp. 1, 10, 12-3, 23.
  • Dr. H.M. Himes to give short course in N.J. ICA International Review of Chiropractic 1959 (Oct); 14(4): 39.
  • Dzaman, Fern et al. (eds.) Who's Who in Chiropractic, International. Second Edition. Littleton CO: Who's Who in Chiropractic International Publishing Co., 1980, pp. 120-1.
  • Haldeman, Scott. First impressions of the Synchro-Therme as a skin temperature reading instrument. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 1970a (Apr); 14(1): 7-8, 22
  • Haldeman, Scott. Observations made under test conditions with the Synchro-Therme. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 1970b (Oct); 14(3): 9-12.
  • Himes HM. Policy talk; unpublished (4 January 1956; Palmer School of Chiropractic).
  • Himes HM. New program integrates research and curriculum. ICA Review of Chiropractic 1960a; February: 10-11, 32.
  • Himes HM. Practical experience intensified for student. ICA Review of Chiropractic 1960b; March: 7-9.
  • Himes HM. Anticipated results. ICA Review of Chiropractic 1960c; April: 8-10.
  • Himes HM. Letter to R.K. Partlow, D.C., 24 February 1964a (CMCC Archives).
  • Himes HM. Dean's report. CMCC News Letter 1964b (Mar); 1(2): 3-4.
  • Himes HM. Monthly report to the Board of Governors, 3 September 1964c (CMCC Archives).
  • Himes HM. Letter to the ICA members, 7 December 1964d.
  • Himes HM. Letter to Stanley Hayes, D.C., 21 March 1966. Himes HM. The challenge of our future. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1968a (July/Aug); 11(1): 18-20.
  • Himes HM. The challenge of our future. Digest of Chiropractic Economics 1968b (Sept/Oct); 11(2): 28-30.
  • Himes HM. Exclusive interview with Dr. Marshall Himes. Beacon 1980 (Mar/Apr), Number 2, pp. 1, 6, 23.
  • Homewood, A. Earl. Administrative dean's report. CMCC Quarterly 1955 (Spring); 5(1): 5-7.
  • Interim report: instruments. Davenport IA: International Chiropractors' Association, undated (circa 1964).
  • Keating JC. B.J. of Davenport: the early years of chiropractic. Davenport IA: Association for the History of Chiropractic, 1997.
  • Keating JC, Callender AK, Cleveland CS. A history of chiropractic education in North America: report to the Council on Chiropractic Education. Davenport IA: Association for the History of Chiropractic, 1998.
  • Keating JC, Haldeman S. Joshua N. Haldeman, D.C.: the Canadian years, 1926-1950. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 1995 (Sept); 39(3): 172-86.
  • Kyneur JS, Bolton SP. (1992) Lost technology: the rise and fall of chiropractic instrumentation. Chiropractic History (June); 12(1): 30-5.
  • Minutes of the meeting of the Council on Education of the A.C.A., Des Moines, 18-22 January 1966 (CCE Archives).
  • New items: Western Canadian chiropractic convention success. ICA International Review of Chiropractic 1949 (July); 4(1): 2.
  • Regular meeting of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Toronto, 18 June 1964 (CMCC Archives).
  • Schierholz, Arthur M. Letter to Roger K. Partlow, D.C., 8 September 1962 (CMCC Archives).
  • Strong, Howard L. Report of the general manager to the Board of Governors, 3 September 1964 (CMCC Archives).
  • To address alumni meet. Arkansas Democrat , 22 January 1956
  • Viggiani DH. Reply to Keith Kennedy, D.C. CMCC News Letter 1964 (Mar); 1(2): 6-9.
  • Visiting chiropractors. Dothan Eagle (Dothan, Alabama), 7 November 1954.

Joseph Keating Jr., PhD
Phoenix, Arizona

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