Andrew Taylor Still: being a little journey to the home of the founder of osteopathy by Elbert Hubbard

A brief account of the life of Andrew Taylor Still, founder of osteopathy, written by a famous writer, philosopher and artist.

Publisher: The Roycrofters’ Shop, Est Aurora, New York.

Year of publication: 1912

Number of pages: 28






Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) was an American writer, philosopher and artist. In fourteen years he wrote 182 short biographies, included in the series “Little journeys to the homes of the Great.” In one of these journeys he went to Kirksville.

In this very short volume of only 28 pages, Hubbard affirms that it is not possible to explain osteopathy in a few lines, but that he had the intention to provide the reader with a general idea of Dr Andrew Taylor Still‘s work.

The narration starts from the years preceding the Civil War and illustrates some episodes of Still’s childhood and adolescence, while outlining his character. 

Hubbard claims to know Dr Still well. For many years he had followed him, heard him talking in public, seen him work on patients and talked to him while walking together in the woods, along the streams and in the field. 

According to Hubbard, Still was more interested in life than medicine, in health than sickness. His thoughts were often concentrated on the marvels of nature. He had founded the school for the need to meet the demand of patients arriving in excessive numbers for his forces alone.

Hubbard describes Kirksville in 1912, for how he had observed it during a permanence of two days. On that occasion he recalls Dr Andrew Taylor Still, sitting on the veranda in the pale October sun, surrounded by the magnificence of the colors of the trees that were losing their leaves. 

Still had made a brief speech noting how the school and clinic were going on without requiring his intervention any longer, and recalling how the times in which he knew all students and called them by their names belonged to the past.

Still also affirmed not to fear death, which he considered as natural as life, and to be ready to die, convinced that his spirit would continue to live in some other place or in a different shape, and that the Great Power that had always assisted him during his life on earth would have never abandoned him. “The Great Architect of the universe is on our side – He is one with us, and I am ready to receive all changes that this Great Architect thinks are necessary to complete the work for which man was designed. Man’s business is this: Know Thyself and be at peace with God.”


Strengths: a precious small volume, pleasant to read and providing a lot of details on Andrew Taylor Still from the point of view of a layman.

Weaknesses: it is a booklet written in a journalistic style, a sort of long article on AT Still.

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Historical osteopathy books

Osteopathy Research and Practice by Andrew Taylor Still

The fourth book of A.T. Still, written at the age of 82 years, enunciates the principles and the practical maneuvers of osteopathy in reference to the single pathologies, classified by body regions.


History of Osteopathy and Twentieth-Century Medical Practice by Emmons Rutledge Booth

A milestone in the history of osteopathy. Emmons Rutledge Booth, who enrolled at the ASO in Kirksville in 1898 and graduated in 1900, met A.T. Still personally.


Philosophy of Osteopathy by Andrew Taylor Still

The second book published by A.T. Still, it collects the basic principles of osteopathy, written over several years and then gathered in one volume. Despite the insistence of his friends, Still was not sure that the time was ripe to divulge his early science.


Autobiography of Andrew Taylor Still with a History of the Discovery and Development of the Science of Osteopathy by A. T. Still

A fundamental text to begin to know the founder of osteopathy and to understand the cultural context and the historical events during which his life unfolded.


Primitive Physick: or, an Easy and Natural Method of Curing most Diseases by John Wesley

A fundamental text for the Methodists, which Still’s father surely knew and probably owned - in addition to remedies, the book contains a preface that dispenses advice for a healthy life.


The Old Doctor by Leon Elwin Page

A small volume dedicated to the story of Andrew Taylor Still, and to the birth and development of the idea of osteopathy.


The Cure of Disease by Osteopathy, Hydropathy and Hygiene A Book for the People by Ferdinand L. Matthay

A small volume addressed to the general public, dispensing health advice and illustrating some osteopathic techniques.


Osteopathy; the New Science by William Livingston Harlan

The volume collects and comments a series of relevant articles on the new science of osteopathy, highlighting legal, historical and theoretical aspects.


A Manual of Osteopathy – with the Application of Physical Culture, Baths and Diet by Eduard W Goetz

Very schematic volume, with the aim of spreading the osteopathic application techniques to everybody, even to those lacking any sort of health training.


Francesca Galiano


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