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AA History

Sam Shoemaker

Sam Shoemaker

The basic principles which the Oxford Groupers had taught were ancient and universal ones, the common property of mankind… The early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Groups and directly from Sam Shoemaker…

The “God Word” Delusion: A Response from the London Group

The “God Word” Delusion: A Response from the London Group

The London group who initiated the process of securing the first-ever Conference-approved leaflet for agnostics, atheists, and freethinkers in AA, responds to “The God Word Delusion…

Richmond Walker

Richmond Walker

The Twenty-Four Hours a Day book is pocket-sized, designed for both portability, and discretion. An editor’s note tells us only that, “This book was compiled by a member of the Group at Daytona Beach, Fla”. The author, Richmond Walker, sought neither profit, nor recognition, for his efforts…

Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday

I tell you the saloon is a coward. It hides itself behind stained-glass doors and opaque windows, and sneaks its customers in a blind door, and keeps a sentinel to guard the door from the officers of the law . . . it strikes in the night…

Brewery Bill, Campsie Mick, Roland, and Lois Wilson.

Brewery Bill, Campsie Mick, Roland, and Lois Wilson.

I met Brewery Bill in early sobriety and enjoyed his humour and A.A. storytelling. He got sober in 1971 when he was in his twenties, knew many of the original members of Sydney A.A. and was a great storyteller…

AA Incorporated

AA Incorporated

The year 1937 dawned with much promise for two fallen bigshots, Bill Wilson and Hank Parkhurst. Bill was 25 months sober, and his abstinence from alcohol had been supplying some small opportunities to re-enter the working world…

Our Perfectly Imperfect AA Founder

Our Perfectly Imperfect AA Founder

This spirituality–the spirituality of imperfection–is thousands of years old. And yet it is timeless, eternal, and ongoing, for it is concerned with what in the human being is irrevocable and immutable, the essential imperfection, the basic and inherent flaws of humans…

New Thought and AA

New Thought and AA

The most obvious connecting link between Alcoholics Anonymous and the New Thought movement comes through William James who “had found answers to his own depression and doubts about his self-worth from… New Thought teachings, which he termed ‘mind-cure’… While New Thought organizations never became very large, their ideas…

Dr. Benjamin Rush

Dr. Benjamin Rush

“Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was the first member of the (American) medical community to write about alcoholism and suggest it might be an illness… a ‘disease process’”. (The Roundtable of AA History, Silkworth.net) This was fully one hundred years before the…

Rowland Hazard

Rowland Hazard

A certain American businessman had ability, good sense, and high character. For years he had floundered from one sanitarium to another. He had consulted the best known American psychiatrists. Then he had gone to Europe, placing himself in the care of a celebrated physician (the psychiatrist, Dr. Jung) who prescribed…

Florence Rankin

Florence Rankin

Florence was the first woman to get sober in AA, even for a short time. She came to AA in New York, in March 1937. She had several slips, but was sober over a year when she wrote her story for the Big Book.
(Silkworth.net, Biographies, “A Feminine Victory…

Ebby Thacher – An Unhappy Life

Ebby Thacher – An Unhappy Life

Late November 1934 seemed to be the worst of times for Bill Wilson, an unemployed and completely discredited stockbroker living in Brooklyn, New York. He had fallen from a lofty place in life. Less than six years earlier, everything had been going his way: a luxury apartment, fat profits in…

A Big Book Compromise Opens AA to Unbelievers

A Big Book Compromise Opens AA to Unbelievers

In the spring of 1938, the future of the group started by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith three years earlier was very much in doubt.  There were only two meetings–in Akron and New York. Wilson had proposed an ambitious plan for expansion: he wanted to send members on speaking…

Selling AA – Early Publicity

Selling AA – Early Publicity

Dreams of alcoholic hospitals, a book, and paid missionaries were perhaps, simultaneously grand and grandiose. These schemes would require money, and lots of it. “If a world-wide movement was going to take millions of dollars to launch, no problem: they’d raise millions…

My Name is Bill by Susan Cheever – Book Review

My Name is Bill by Susan Cheever – Book Review

After AA found its sea-legs in the early 1940s Wilson morphed into its inspirational and organizational CEO. He was a brilliant speaker and writer. Many of his addresses and all of his writings for the Grapevine, the latter numbering more than 200 articles, can be read on www.Silkworth…

AA’s Declaration of Independence

AA’s Declaration of Independence

God was very much on their minds as Bob Smith and Bill Wilson began their pursuit of drunks in the summer of 1935. As soon as a man told them he wanted to stop drinking, they asked whether he believed in God. Clarence Snyder, an alcoholic from Cleveland, learned this…

Secular AA Comes of Age

Secular AA Comes of Age

Pam W. and Dorothy H. met at the We Agnostics meeting in Hollywood, California, where it’s common to see out-of-town visitors who frequently comment on how refreshing they find the agnostic meeting format. Witnessing this, Dorothy and Pam began to ask one another if their group was…

Not Just The Washingtonians Part II

Not Just The Washingtonians Part II

Throughout pre-AA history, the unique power of one alcoholic helping another has been repeatedly demonstrated, as drunks have gathered together for mutual support in the effort to stay sober. Some of these groups have been religious or spiritual, others, not. In all cases, the ongoing interaction with other alcoholics…

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…