Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: Andrew Taylor Still Papers

A. T. Still University
Andrew Taylor Still Papers

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Dr. Still with femur bone


In 1874 Dr. A.T. Still (1828-1917) rebelled against standard 19th century medicine and launched his own health care system, later named osteopathy. Rather than just tweak old therapies, Still offered a new philosophy. He met heavy resistance, and the papers reveal Still's frank opinions of those who refused to see the truth of his ideas. His rivals fought, and failed, to make osteopathy illegal. Still founded the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville in 1892. 

Still's father - a preacher, doctor, and abolitionist - shaped his ideas about religion, medicine, and politics. Following his parents to Kansas in 1853, Still became a physician and farmer. He took up the antislavery cause and served with the Union during the Civil War. While the deaths of four children in 1864 caused him to give up medicine for a time, he eventually returned to his practice. When his work was rejected by family and friends, he returned to Missouri, settling in Kirksville for the rest of his life. 

The Collection

The Andrew Taylor Still Papers comprise about 6 linear feet (1864-1937; bulk 1891-1917). The bulk consists of Still's essays, letters, book drafts, and other writings. Also present are letters to Still, military records, other personal documents, and letters and other items relating to Still's death in 1917. Formats include handwritten, typed, and printed materials. Photographs and artifacts are held in separate collections, as are records of the American School of Osteopathy. The Papers include very few tributes or articles about Still. (The Museum's research collections have many such items.) The Still Papers were arranged and described in 2003.

The core of the collection was donated in 1990 by Elizabeth Laughlin, widow of Still's grandson. It is not known who compiled the material originally; it was handed down from Still's daughter, Blanche Laughlin. Other items were given by individual donors over a number of years.

Still often dictated to aides who rarely labeled or dated the manuscripts, raising issues of authorship when the handwriting is not Still's. Because of his distinctive style, and because of the chain of family custody, Still is the presumed author unless otherwise stated.

Nearly 200 items (over 650 pages) were transcribed for the online collection. These were chosen with the goal of making rare, difficult-to-read documents both accessible and searchable. In addition, most of the selected items have not been widely published or circulated.

Rights and Reproductions

Requests for permission to publish or reproduce material from the Andrew Taylor Still Papers should be directed to the Curator, Museum of Osteopathic Medicine SM, 800 West Jefferson Street, Kirksville, MO 63501; telephone 660-626-2359. The Museum does not claim to hold the copyright for all material in the Still Papers; it is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of other copyrights. Suggested citation: Andrew Taylor Still Papers, Museum of Osteopathic Medicine SM, Kirksville, Missouri [accession #].

How to Use This Collection

The transcriptions are searchable, as are a number of data fields. Most researchers will find the following fields most useful for searches: Title, Description, Subject, Date.Original, and Transcription. The Description field links the context of many of these documents together. Spelling has been corrected only for significant words; name variations are common. Thus users may need to try searching several spellings. Searches may also be affected by the square brackets used to mark features such as underlining, cross-outs, and illegible words.

Additional Resources

Most of the collections of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine (artifacts, documents, photographs, books, journals, and other materials) are directly or indirectly related to Still and the osteopathic school he founded in 1892. Finding aids are available at http://www.atsu.edu/museum/collections/research_tools.htm. See especially: Finding Aid to the Andrew Taylor Still Papers, Museum of Osteopathic Medicine Photograph Collection, Charles E. Still Collection, Still and Laughlin biographical and genealogical files, and the Littlejohn Material & Papers.

This collection is part of the larger Museum of Osteopathic Medicine collection on Missouri Digital Heritage, which can be browsed in its entirety here: http://cdm.sos.mo.gov/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=%2Fatsu, and searched here: http://cdm.sos.mo.gov/cdm4/search.php?col_val=/atsu.

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