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AA History

The majority of the articles in this section were written by Bob K., the author of Key Players in AA history, and will include little know details about the founding of AA, and even some of the organizations that preceded Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also articles by other authors about more recent events in the history of AA.

Living Sober (the book)

Living Sober (the book)

Living Sober is by far the best AA book — the only one I could recommend. I remember when it was published, back in 1975, when I had been sober for seven years. Even then I was not alone as a freethinker. We hailed Living Sober as “Conference-approved” literature, which…

Floggings, Strychnine, Leeches, and Worse

Floggings, Strychnine, Leeches, and Worse

New World immigrants brought over European alcoholic beverages, drinking customs, and social attitudes. Many early settlers assumed that people got drunk because they wanted to, not because they had to; also, that drunkenness was a natural, harmless consequence of drinking. In 1673, Increase Mather published his sermon ‘Woe to Drunkards…

The Lost Weekend

The Lost Weekend

The Lost Weekend (1944) may be the most famous movie ever made about alcoholism. It’s certainly one of the most important movies to deal with the subject because it was the first movie to show alcoholism as a serious, ugly, debilitating condition. Before The Lost Weekend movie drunks, often…

A Tribute to AA Agnostica

A Tribute to AA Agnostica

Today closes one of the most exciting chapters in the recent history of the secular AA Fellowship, also known as We Agnostics, since the Santa Monica Convention in 2014, We Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers. Today, June 15, 2015, is the last day that a new post will be put up…

Not Just The Washingtonians

Not Just The Washingtonians

There exists a mythology which has been perpetrated and perpetuated by those who take pleasure in perpetrating and perpetuating mythologies – Regarding the treatment of alcoholism, the pre-AA world was one of darkness, total blackness, a vacuum, a void. Not only had human power efforts done poorly, they had failed…

Henrietta Sieberling

Henrietta Sieberling

Bill Wilson was having some panicky moments in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel, in the early afternoon of the second Saturday of May, 1935. Much has been made of his “hot flash” spiritual experience of five months earlier at the Towns Hospital, but at least equally important was his…

THE COMMON SENSE OF DRINKING | Richard R. Peabody (1931)

THE COMMON SENSE OF DRINKING | Richard R. Peabody (1931)

Alcoholics Anonymous was not the only therapy for alcoholics that flourished in its time. Other approaches to treating alcoholism, although they derived from sources very different from the influences that impinged on AA, used similar methods and even incorporated some of the same ideas that a forgetfulness of history leads…

Willard Richardson and the Rockefeller People

Willard Richardson and the Rockefeller People

As Bill Wilson progressed through his third year of sobriety, his personal finances remained a struggle. He was forced by the compelling arguments of the “group conscience” to decline a very appealing offer from Charles Towns to practice as a “lay therapist” at the upscale, but declining facility. But if…

Paul Cox, AA, and the Law

Paul Cox, AA, and the Law

On the night before New Year’s Eve, 1988, Paul Cox and two friends were at a keg party near Larchmont, New York. When the beer ran out, the three went to a local bar where they continued drinking. Then the three men walked toward Cox parents’ house where he…

Remembering Ernie Kurtz

Remembering Ernie Kurtz

Catholics priests are not among those who one would expect to find heading a list of crusaders for the freethinker movement in Alcoholics Anonymous. Nonetheless Ernest Kurtz, ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1961, was a dear friend of AAAgnostica.org, and an enthusiastic proponent of the work being…

The Washingtonian Society

The Washingtonian Society

“Jack Alexander, Saturday Evening Post, was also one of the friends to whom Bill sent material. Of the Twelve Tradition essays, Alexander has this to say: ‘The only serious (in my view) defect is that you have treated the old Washingtonian Society too briefly; most people never heard of it…

The Fraud That Is AA Fundamentalism

The Fraud That Is AA Fundamentalism

It may be that Alcoholics Anonymous has never been more polarized than it is in the mid-teens of the new millennium. A consolation is that there was another time of great divisiveness. As the book was being written and discussed in late 1938, there was “strong but warm-hearted…

AA’s Sister Ignatia

AA’s Sister Ignatia

St Thomas Hospital… (was) where the resourceful Sister Mary Ignatia, a nun who seems to have stepped out of The Bells of St. Mary, abetted the surreptitious admission of alcoholics for treatment. (Bill W. and Mr. Wilson, Matthew Raphael, P. 2-3…

The LSD Experiments

The LSD Experiments

How could Bill W., Grand Poobah of sobriety ever have allowed himself to join the Learyesque acidheads and “turn on, tune in, and drop out?” (Bill W. and Mr. Wilson, Matthew Raphael, p. 164…

Jerry McAuley – The Water Street Mission

Jerry McAuley – The Water Street Mission

Salvation from alcoholic dissipation through religious conversion is not unprecedented. The tale of Jerry McAuley is a classic one, as he was able to achieve sobriety via a spiritual experience, and then to maintain this new lifestyle by means of service to his fellow man. His story is in William…

Henry Parkhurst

Henry Parkhurst

Throughout the second half of 1938, the Honor Dealers’ little office was abuzz with activity. The hubbub involved neither the sale of auto polish, nor the organization of a buying co-op, but the production of the text Alcoholics Anonymous. Two fallen, forty-something entrepreneurs viewed their new venture as…