History of Massage through Google Books

This is an amazing look at the History of Massage

You can read the full book on Google Books to really get an feel for what it was like back in our rich history of massage therapy.  I also have a unique look at the Modern History of Massage  which covers the 1960s to present and a full Timeline History of Massage that covers the very early years in massage all over the world.

(First link in each listing goes to the Full Google Book and I have a link to the PDF file if you are interested.  You can print them out even.  I included a brief quote when I could from the various books.  Most include some chapter on the history of massage even!)

1825 A Full Account of the System of Friction As Adopted and Pursued with the Greatest Success in Cases of Contracted Joints and Lameness, from Various CausesBy John Grosvenor, William Cleoburey. Link to Google Books

1866(?) –The Anatriptic art – By Walter Johnson (PDF)

The practice of friction and unction, in other words rubbing of the body with greasy substances, had its origin in ante-historical ages, for the oldest writers whose works are in our hands speak of the custom as one in daily use. It was employed sometimes as a remedy, sometimes as a hygienic mean, sometimes as a luxury, and sometimes it had a symbolic religious sense.

1880On the use of the cold pack followed by massage in the treatment of anaemia By Mary Putnam Jacobi (PDF)

I WAS led to use the cold pack in the treatment of spansemia from the belief that it would tend to increase the rapidity of tissue metamorphosis; this would be expected to indirectly increase assimilation, and therefore promote absorption of nutritive material from the digestive canal. To test the correctness of this hypothesis, I analyzed the urine elaborated during the pack and passed immediately after, and compared its composition with that of urine excreted during other portions of the same day. The first conspicuous result of these analyses, was the demonstration of a marked increase in the elimination of urea during the hours of the pack. From this fact I at first inferred that my hypothesis was justified, and that the characteristic effect of the pack was to accelerate tissue metamorphosis—to increase waste and the products of oxidation — thus indirectly promoting assimilation. But closer examination of the facts showed that this conclusion was too general, and that the real influence of the pack both permitted and demanded a more minute analysis.

1852- Movements or exercises, according to Ling’s system, for the due development …By Mathias Roth (PDF)

No one, who has paid any attention to the subject, can doubt that the right use of properly-regulated exercises must have a most beneficial influence on childhood and youth, in giving the due development to their organism.

These exercises may be introduced with the greatest advantage into every school and seminary; in fact, they should constitute a part of sound and good education. A healthy body is the best condition for the development of a healthy mind. It is hoped that parents, and all those who are engaged in the noble profession of tuition, will give their earnest attention and their practical support to the enlightened system of Ling.

It need not be said that these exercises are far superior to the present drill for all the purposes of military training.


  1860-An Exposition of the Swedish movement-cure  By George Herbert Taylor (PDF)

 Persons of literary and of business habits require a similar aid to preserve them from falling into habitual ill health. The habit of this class of persons is, to employ all the available forces of their organism through a particular channel—the brain and nerves, and of course to excite nutrition chiefly in a single department of their organism. This is contrary to the laws of the system, and ill consequences are necessarily ere long felt. This disproportionate use and unbalanced nutrition, whereby one set of functions is heightened, is, of course, to the detriment of another set of functions, which, becoming reduced in power, are, at last, literally starved out. Examples of this class of persons are met with everywhere, and generally recognized at sight. It is to be hoped the time will come when such physiological abuso will meet the general reprehension it so much deserves.

The principles advocated, and the practical examples

afforded in this work, are adapted to obviate all such unfortunate results. Persons whose tastes or necessities lead them to employ the nervous department of their being chiefly, may, if they choose to learn how, counteract any disproportionate nervous wear, and by attending to its cultivation, maintain their physical vigor.

1864Theory and practice of the movement cure By Charles Fayette Taylor (PDF)


1887 Massage: Principles and Practice of Remedial treatment by Imparted Motions: Mechanical Processes: By George Herbert Taylor, MD (PDF)

The word massage denotes any process of conjoint motion and pressure applied to parts of the living body, for remedial purposes. Massage implies some source from which the pressure-motion is derived and involves the production of physiological consequences adapted to remedy defects arising from insufficient muscular action of the usual forms.


I am afraid that a good deal of misconception exists in this country on the subject of Massage. Many people think that it is only a kind of ” rubbing” or “shampooing,” whilst others associate it in their minds with the idea of a Turkish bath. Patients often suppose that if they are to undergo a course of treatment they will have to abandon their ordinary occupations, cut themselves adrift from their friends and submit to be isolated or live in seclusion. It is amusing to watch their astonishment when they are undeceived on these points. Another common mistake is to suppose that anyone can “do massage,” and that the whole art can be acquired in one or two easy lessons. Applicants are often anything but pleased when they are told that it takes at least two years to learn, and that many people from lack of aptitude or defective general education never succeed in acquiring it. I constantly see nurses and others who think they are thoroughly competent to undertake Massage, but who have not the dimest idea even of the meaning of the word. Another very prevalent mistake is to suppose that each seance should last an hour. How this absurd idea originated it is difficult to say.


1887MASSAGE.‘ By Lady JOHN MANNERS. Popular Science Monthly (PDF)

Dr. Stein, of Heidelberg, who spent some years in the Dutch medical service in Java, writes that massage is practiced there, as in almost all the Dutch colonies of the Indian Ocean. It is known as pldjet-ten, and it is also employed in the Society, Sandwich, Feejee, and Tonga Islands. Dr. Emerson, a native of the Sandwich Islands, says it is there called lomi-lomi, and is performed either over the whole or part of the body, usually by old women. It consists in rubbing and kneading, and may vary from the gentlest stroke to the most powerful grip. It is considered as a high mark of honor for a host to perform this operation for his guest, or to receive this attention from him.

1887 Manual of Treatment by Massage and Methodical Exercise By Joseph Screiber 

1889 – A Manual of instruction for giving Swedish movement and massage By Hartvig Nissen (PDF)

The word massage means kneading, but is now generally used to describe the handling and manipulating of the flesh, as in stroking, pressing, kneading, percussing, etc.

Thus “massage” is only a part of the  movements, and constitutes a very small part of the ‘• Swedish movement treatment.”

The Purpose Of This Manual.

It would be impossible for any one to gain a thorough knowledge of this system, and how, understandingly, to give a full treatment, from a brief manual like the present one.

Two or three years of hard study is required at the Royal Central Institute of Stockholm in order to be graduated there.

1890 – A Practical Treatise on Massage (second edition)- It’s History, Mode of Application, and …By Professor Douglas Graham

Massage, from the Greek /*ao-o-o>, I knead or handle; Arabic, mas’h,1 press softly; is a term now generally accepted by European and American physicians to signify a group of procedures which are best done with the hands, such as friction, kneading, manipulating, rolling, and percussion of the external tissues of the body in a variety of ways, either with a curative, palliative, or hygienic object in view. Its application should in many instances be combined with passive, resistive or assistive movements, and these are often spoken of as the Swedish movement cure. There is, however, an increasing tendency on the part of scientific men to have the word massage embrace all these varied forms of manual therapeutics, for the reason that the word ” cure,” attached to any form of treatment whatsoever, cannot always be applicable, inasmuch as there are many maladies that preclude the possibility of recovery and yet admit of amelioration. Hence the word cure may lead people to expect too much; and on the other hand, the use of the word rubbing in place of massage tends to undervalue the application and benefit of the latter, for it is but natural to suppose that all kinds of rubbing are alike, differing only in the amount of force used.

1890Manual therapeutics, a treatise on massage: its history, mode of application …By Douglas Graham (PDF)

The history of massage is coeval with that of mankind and worthy of being preserved; its mode of application can be cultivated as an art second to none that the human hand can perform, having a harp of more than a thousand strings on which to play; its range of usefulness is increasing all the time, and has long since extended into every special and general branch of medicine, so that he who would keep pace with its developments must be well informed in all departments of the healing art. This book is written from the standpoint of the physician and practical masseur, from that of theory and practice, of faith and works.

History of Massage Through Google Books

1890- Massotherapeutics  By William Murrell

By Massotherapeutics I mean the scientific aspect of the subject; Massage, that is simply as a therapeutic agent, and not Massage as a means of earning a living or as a modified form of hotel keeping.

It must be admitted that many people regard Massage and all that appertains to it with a good deal of suspicion, and not without reason. The difficulty is, not that Massage fails to receive the credit to which it is entitled, but that it is employed in a number of cases for which it is essentially unsuited. No discrimination is exercised, but its use is advocated for all sorts of chronic ailments. This is a grave mistake and is greatly to be deplored. The work, too, is often carried on by people who know little or nothing about it, and who have not even mastered its most elementary details

1891Massage and the original Swedish movements By Kurre Wilhelm Ostrom

Some physicians practiced the movements themselves ; but there arose a class of people, called Piidotribes, some of whom acquired great skill in the manipulation of the human body

1892Handbook of massage By Emil Kleen (PDF)

The various manipulations and their modifications naturally suggest themselves to one who clearly comprehends the anatomical, physiological, and pathological indications in any given case. Just here lies the great difference between a scientifically trained and an untrained masseur. The former has, during his course of medical study, traversed most of the way toward becoming a good masseur: there is demanded for what remains, a relatively short course of study, normal upper extremities, that are not too weak—the hands especially should not be too lean or small—and some aptness for mechanical work. It is an advantage to work with or under an expert masseur, for a time, the technique being more speedily and readily acquired in this way than in any other. Besides, one more quickly acquires certain forms of dexterity, peculiar to the masseur, which could, otherwise, be gained only through long continued, independent practice. I would, likewise, emphasize the fact that it is not well to follow a particular mode of technique too slavishly, but that every one should work out his own technique, which soon becomes as characteristic as his own handwriting. It is clear that manipulations, which have entirely the same effect upon the patient, may be quite variously executed by the masseur. A good masseur never thinks, while at work, of the way he uses his hands, but only of the tissues he is manipulating; and the quality of his massage depends, for the most part, upon his knowledge of their condition.

1895 The Art of Massage: A Practical Manual for the Nurse, the Student and the …By John Harvey Kellogg.  Also available at the Meridian Institute

MASSAGE, or systematic rubbing and manipulation of the tissues of the body, is probably one of the oldest of all means used for the relief of bodily infirmities.

1896 Cephalalgy and massage By Gustaf Mauritz Norstroëm (PDF)

The first time I tried to show the relation of causability existing between the cervical muscular inflammations and cephalic pains, to prove that with a methodic treatment all might be cured. I believe I have attained my object, but when it has been shown that a medication is legitimate all has not been said with respect to it. I have never sustained the extreme theory that all extra-cranial cephalalgias are necessarily of muscular origin, that all limited chronic myositis of the neck produce paroxysmal pains with migrainous character; that when both indications are realized, one always succeeds in overcoming them by the procedure in question, that massage is an infallible medication which has no contra-indications, no failures. If I had said this I would have committed serious mistakes. However convinced one may be, one may never reason in this way, experience would soon open our eyes and show that if faith has formerly been sufficient to transport mountains it is not always sufficient to cure.

1896 –Handbook of massage By Gustaf Mauritz Norstroëm (PDF)

A thorough study of the history of the therapeutical measures resorted to and known under the general name of massage, confronts us with unexpected difficulties. In perusing the books devoted to this subject, we are astonished to meet with such frequent contradictions and paradoxes, although all the books treat of an empirical method which was employed by popular physicians and practitioners. These acted without preconceived ideas, because massage had been a means of curing in a case similar to the one which they had to do with. Scientific interpretations only interfered later on. How did they perform massage?

1898 –A Text book mechano-therapy (massage and medical gymnastics)By Axel V. Grafstrom (PDF)

In preparing this little volume it has been my endeavor to present the subject of MechanoTherapy in a condensed form, and in a rational and popular way, in order to make it easily understood by the student.

The system practised by the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, has been principally followed, with such modifications as are recommended by prominent teachers and authorities of this science.

The works of Hartelius, Brandt, Graham, Taylor, and Posse have been freely consulted

1898-Recent developments in massage By Douglas Graham (PDF) Early case studies on massage??

1901 –A primer of the art of massage for learners By Thomas Stretch Dowse (PDF)

ENERGY.—You scarcely need to be told that manipulations made upon the human body are merely evidences of the transference of so much mechanical energy from yourself to your patient. If you grasp your friend’s hand in kindly greeting you have also evidence of the transference of mechanical energy, and the effects or impressions created, both upon the tissues and the mind, will be in direct ratio with the degree of the impress, the energy evolved, and the resistances overcome. *****

Energy signifies capacity for work, and is the essential accompaniment of all forms of activity. Therefore energy is essential to life, and life cannot exist without energy

1903Lectures on massage and electricity in the treatment of disease By Thomas Stretch Dowse (PDF)

With regard to Massage, I am still of opinion that it is an important physical aid in the treatment of diseased states. This conviction has grown upon me by practice, by experience, and by working out in detail its influences and their results, upon aberrations of function and deranged physiological processes. Its usefulness as a healthy tonic cannot be denied

1904- The Practice of massage By Arthur Symons Eccles (PDF)

In practising this and all other manipulations included under the term ‘ massage,’ the truly skilful operator must have a good and sufficient reason for everything he does ; as unless the local effects which should follow the successful application of each manipulation are produced, the benefit of general massage cannot be obtained.


The advantages derivable from shampooing and manipulations in sprains, wrenches, and similar injuries have been recognised for centuries, especially as shown in the rapid removal of extravasated blood, the cure of oedema, the prevention of stiffness, and the checking of muscle waste—the identical complications which are prone to occur in fractures : a fracture being nothing more than an exaggerated form of sprain, the bone, in addition to the soft parts, having been torn. It is presumed that no intelligent surgeon who has had any practical experience would in these days hesitate to use massage and movements in a case of sprain or wrench, however severe, if the bone were intact and the skin sound. The sole reason for avoiding the application of these common-sense methods in fractures seems to be the general belief that any plan of treatment which would entail movement, however slight, between the fragments, must be inimical to union and therefore unsound, if not actually dangerous, in practice. It is, however, quite certain that the very slight amount of movement entailed by this method, if properly applied, not only has no tendency to prevent union, but, on the contrary, may sometimes tend to promote union by the increase of callus so produced

1912Mechanical Vibration, Its Physiological Application in Therapeutics By Mary Lydia Hastings Arnold Snow · 1912.  Google Books.   Meridian Institute.

MECHANICAL VIBRATION or vibra-massage which has become generally recognized by the profession, is the outgrowth of a subject which dates back to ancient times, – one which has been maturing for centuries, and which has been practiced by many nationalities in various ways, to wit, massage. Until recently, however, massage has not received the recognition it so richly deserves, for in the hands of charlatans and quacks – non-professional masseurs – it has principally become known, and not favorably known. It required such men as Mezger, Zabludowski, Bunge, Graham, Seguin, Weir-Mitchell, Playfair, and Kellogg to give it scientific recognition and establish a technique that could be therapeutically employed.

1913 – Massage – Its principles and technic By Max Boehm (PDF)

In reply to the question, ” Who shall do massage, Doctor or Layman ?” the medical world is by degrees taking a different standpoint. The brusque statement ” Massage by the Doctors,” by Hoffa, sounds theoretically very plausible, but in the light of practice gains another aspect. There certainly can be no question but that a great part of massage can be best carried out by the hands of the doctor. To this class belong especially massage administered for pathologic changes in the muscles, tendons, joints, nerves, and internal organs, entirely apart from massage of the female generative organs, the eye, the larynx, etc., which generally should be treated by a suitable specialist. (These last-named forms of massage have not been considered in this volume, belonging, in my opinion, in text-books of special branches).

On the other hand, there is, unquestionably, massage which requires no medical knowledge whatever, but only the essentials of an understanding of anatomy, together with mechanical and manual skill. For instance, this is especially true in general body massage or usual massage of the back, that is, massage which is chiefly administered to relatively sound parts of the body to strengthen them or to improve their circulation. A skilled masseur equipped with a knowledge of anatomy is fully equal to this task.

1918 Massage and the original Swedish movements: their application to various … By Kurre Wilhelm Ostrom (PDF)

The word Massage is a derivation from the Greek massein, or the French masser, which both mean: to knead. A male operator is called a masseur, a female operator, a masseuse.

Massage is a scientific treatment, ‘by certain passive systematic manipulations, upon the nude skin of the human body.

1921 Massage and therapeutic exercise By Mary McMillan (PDF)

The word “massage” is derived from the Greek, and means to knead or press. It has come into modern use through the French, as is shown by several of the associated terms. It implies a scientific manipulation of the body tissues. It is a means for creating energy when it has become exhausted from any cause, and is a natural method of restoring the part injured or even the body as a whole to its normal condition

Hydrotherapy and Massage edited by Health Research Staff

The practice of surgery By James Gregory Mumford (PDF)

The practice of massage was in bad odor for long in this country because of the preposterous claims of its many ignorant exponents and the frequent danger they inflicted upon unsuitable cases. In the course of years all that was changed: educated persons, many of them trained in Sweden and France, took up the practice; the operators, both men and women, came to see that their work was as assistants to surgeons and not as their rivals, until to-day we find a considerable number of such competent persons in every community. Lately there has developed a curious outcome of these conditions. A so-called “school” of medicine has grown up. Its followers apply to themselves the meaningless term ” osteopathist s,” and they essay on their own responsibility various forms of massage.