Osteopathy Complete by Elmer DeVergne Barber

This book is a substantial extension of the previous work by the same author, published in 1896 with the title of Osteopathy: The New Science of Healing, which was the first book ever written on the subject of osteopathy.

Publisher: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Co, Kansas City, MO (USA)
5th edition 1906: Franklin Hudson Publishing Co, Kansas City, MO (USA)

Year of publication: 1898; 5th edition: 1906

Number of pages: 566; 5th edition: 572






As highlighted by the title, Dr Barber – graduated at the ASO of Kirksville in March 1895 and president of the National School of Osteopathy – intended to offer a complete treaty on osteopathy.

At the beginning of the book there is a long and articulate index. After the introduction and some preliminary pages on the new discipline of osteopathy, a long list of diseases begins: pulmonary and bronchial disorders, heart and blood diseases, lymphatic system, digestive tract, liver, pancreas, spleen and kidneys diseases. Of each pathology, mentioned using medical nomenclature, symptoms and suggested osteopathic treatment are described. In the same way he then describes fevers, contagious pathologies, disorders linked to body constitution, nervous system disorders, ocular illnesses, diseases of the skin, bladder, rectus and anus. Other chapters follow on bone and joint diseases and on gynecological diseases. The volume closes with a few pages on obstetrics and dietetics. 

An analytical index for easy reference.

In the chapter in which he describes his research, Dr Barber restates what he had already affirmed in his previous work, Osteopathy: The New Science of Healing, ie, that Dr Still had discovered nothing new and that osteopathy did not concern “dislocated bones” but “contracted muscles” 1


Strengths: The existence of a book like this and the fact that it reached a fifth edition only eight years after its first one demonstrate the great interest surrounding osteopathy, but also the fact that many tried to trivialize the new discipline, depicting it as a sort of panacea that could be easily applied by anyone.

Also in this extended work there are pages dedicated to the benefits of osteopathic treatment during childbirth, to reduce time of labor and soothe pain. The details of these techniques, for which  Dr Still was highly esteemed, have also been described by W.J. Conner in the short booklet The Mechanics of labor taught by Andrew Taylor Still, MD Kirksville, Missouri and interpreted by W.J. Conner, DO, Kansas City, Mo.

Weaknesses: certainly based on the original teachings of Dr A.T. Still, but interpreted by Barber in a simplistic manner and with a perspective different from that of the founder.

  1. Barber, EV. Osteopathy Complete. Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Co, Kansas City, MO (USA):pp. 25-28.


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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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