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AA History

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…

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…