American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

History of the AOA

The American Osteopathic Association was founded in 1897 by a group of students at the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Mo., with
the goal of uniting the efforts of individual physicians and colleges to advance the osteopathic medical profession.

Originally called the American Association for the Advancement of Osteopathy, the name changed to the American Osteopathic Association in 1901. During that same year, C.M. Turner Hulett, DO, documented the 16 charter students in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA). The committee created a constitution, and permanently established the association on April 19, 1897.  

The AOA's mission was summarized by its first president, Daniel B. McAuley, DO: "The reasons for the organization are many, are obvious, are strong; and personal protection is the least of these. No; the members of this organization have laid upon them a heavier responsibility, a greater duty, than the so-called "first law of nature," self-preservation. The primary objects of the organization are, in the broadest sense, to work toward and attain all things that will truly tend to the "advancement of Osteopathy," and the rounding of it into its destined proportions as the eternal truth and vital principle of therapeutic science."


 History of Osteopathic Medicine Virtual Museum


Osteopathic medicine and the AOA have a long history in this country: from Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO first articulating the idea of improving medicine near the turn of the 19th century, to the founding of the AOA, to innovative research, and to the welcoming of minorities and women. The history of the profession is rooted in the philosophy of treating the whole person which continues to this day. Learn more by visiting our history website.