A Canadian of Jamaican origin enjoyed something I had written on black medical practitioners in Britain, and sent me some extremely poor copies of letters from 1938, apparently sent to her relative Levi B Holland in New York City. The low quality was due to the obscure transmission method, and I was unable to renew contact with her. I have rediscovered the papers and summarise them here.
Acman Holland was a chiropractioner – using his hands to help relieved problems in the bones, muscles and joints of patients. In 1927 he was living in Jamaica (Pittsburgh Courier, 18 June 1927, p 3) and in 1935 he seems to have been in New York City when the Chiropractic Journal of January 1935 named “Acman Holland” as one of over forty members of the Interstate Chiropractic Association.
In London he lived in 6 Kensington Court (today it accommodates the embassy of Belarus and is close to those of Mongolia and St Kitts & Nevis) near Kensington palace and gardens. His letter head gave that address, the telephone Western 9288, declared him to be a “Chiropractic Nerve Specialist” and that the hours were 10-12, and 2-6 “and by appointment”.
In his typed letter of 19 July he told Levi “Lee” Holland that the weather had improved “but nothing near as hot as it is in New York”. He said that his patients were going away for their holidays, so the practice “is quite slow at present”. He continued “I am very glad that I have come to England, it is so free here, the very atmosphere is [sic] radiates freedom. I can go any where I have the money to take me and is [sic] received with courtesy and respect. It is so different from America with its racial prejudice and hatred, so you see in an atmosphere like this, success is bound to come my way. As I am situated, I don’t have to bother with coloured people at all, and not even poor white ones, as I am surrounded by the rich in one of the richest section [sic] in London, The Royal Bourough [sic] Of Kensington, the birth place of Queen Victoria. No chance on earth for a coloured man living in such as section in America”.
In August he told Lee that the practice was still slow but people were coming back to London – and he hoped for “some good cases when the season begin [sic] which I am anxiously waiting for”. He enclosed a snapshot of himself in the office.
The Gleaner of Kingston, Jamaica, 9 September 1940 (page 14) published his photograph and reported: “Returns Home. Dr. J. Acman Holland, Jamaican, who had been practising in the United States and England for a number of years, as Chiropractic Nerve Specialist, and has returned to his homeland to settle down for the duration of the war. He left yesterday for New York to visit friends and will return on the 28th [perhaps 29th – the print copy is poor]”.
How long he stayed in England is uncertain. David Killingray advises, having seen the above, that James Acman Holland was born in Jamaica in 1885. In May 2021 he said Holland died at the St Alfege hospital on 8 April 1950, having lived in Blackheath for some time. He married an English woman and they lived in Jamaica in the 1940s. She died in 1985.
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