Documents from Northwest Osteopathic History

David Tate with Dr. Purkey’s diploma

The Story

In September of 2020, my wife Linda had shoulder surgery. Between the pain medicine every four hours, putting ice in the machine providing cooling for her shoulder, and keeping the dogs and cats off of Mom so she could sleep and recuperate, my sleep cycle was a mess. So as I lay in bed trying to fall back to sleep, I grabbed my phone and decided to check out Facebook.

As I scrolled down the posts, I saw an ad for Facebook marketplace. I had never opened marketplace before, but something caught my eye. It looked like an old document of some kind with a skull, books, and lab equipment on it. Intrigued, I opened the add.

I was amazed at what I found! It was a 1914 diploma from The College of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, Los Angeles! It was on sale for $25. I bought it immediately! The next morning, the seller contacted me and told me she also had the physicians 1922 medical license for an additional $25. Sold!

You can see close-ups of both documents using the button on the right.

The History

The College of Physicians and Surgeons Los Angeles was formed in 1914 with the merger of Pacific College of Osteopathy and Los Angeles College of Osteopathy. This diploma would be from the very first class and this was the first year it was a four-year program.

In January 1917 Dr. Leonard R. Purkey is featured in the magazine “The Osteopathic Physician“, published in Chicago, IL, for having delivered a baby girl in Heppner, OR the previous month. In the February, March, and April 1917 issues, he is in an ad for Lane’s “Osteopathy in the So-Called Rheumatic Diseases” again listed as living in Heppner. In the May issue, he gives his endorsement for “Osteopathic Health” and claims it will help him double his practice.

Sometime between 1917 and 1920, Dr. Purkey moved his medical practice in Portland. In the “Morning Oregonian” on January 7, 1921, it was reported that he was arrest by federal agents for violating the Harrison Act which regulated and taxed the production, importation, and distribution of opiates and coca products. Perhaps this explains his license in Washington state in July 1922.

But Dr. Purkey returned to Portland because in 1944 he was part of a group of physicians that incorporated Portland Osteopathic Hospital, according to Dr. John Stiger’s article on Ira Neher, DO. Portland Osteopathic Hospital moved out of downtown to SE Portland and was renamed Eastmoreland Hospital, which closed its doors in 2004.

The Final Chapter

I donated both of these documents to the A.T. Still Museum in Kirksville in the name of the Foundation where they can be preserved and enjoyed.