A History Of Alcoholics Anonymous - April 2011


Published on

"A History of Alcoholics Anonymous" presents a fascinating overview of the history and development of the Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) program, including its founding and growth. The discussion also includes a brief overview of the Twelve Steps of A.A. The program is presented by James Balmer, President of Dawn Farm. This program is part of the Dawn Farm Education Series, a FREE, annual workshop series developed to provide accurate, helpful, hopeful, practical, current information about chemical dependency, recovery, family and related issues. The Education Series is organized by Dawn Farm, a non-profit community of programs providing a continuum of chemical dependency services. For information, please see http://www.dawnfarm.org/programs/education-series.

Published in: Health & Medicine
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • 1843 After receiving support from two influential New York doctors for his "idea of an inebriate asylum, where cases could be secluded, housed, and treated", Dr. J. Edward Turner traveled to Europe to observe treatment and solicit endorsements for his idea. 1854 Turner publishes "The History and Pathology of Inebriety", presents his plan to establish "a thoroughly organized hospital", to be called the United States Inebriate Asylum for the Reform of Poor and Destitute Inebriates, and seeks a charter for the institution from the New York State legislature. Turner circulates a pamphlet seeking subscriptions, or pledged contributions, stating: "The object of the institution is to provide an asylum for the poor and destitute inebriate, where his physical and moral condition will be alike the care of the physician and philanthropist, and where his labor may be rendered productive and of service to his family. With the asylum will be connected Workshops to make the institution self sufficient and relieve prisons and almshouses." Later that year "The United States Inebriate Asylum for the Reform of Poor and Destitute Inebriates" is chartered by the New York State Legislature. 1855 Architect Isaac G. Perry is introduced to Dr. Turner and plans for the asylum are developed. 1857 The institution is renamed "The New York State Inebriate Asylum". It is to be the first of a generation of public hospitals in the United States committed exclusively to the medical treatment of alcoholism.
  • 19 th century “Skid Road” Seattle/Los Angeles/Bowery, NY
  • The Washingtonian Temperance Society was formed in 1840 when six men in Chese’s Tavern in Baltimore, Maryland, decided to sign an abstinence pledge. The Society was a forerunner of the much more organizationally successful Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Members sought out other “ drunkards ” (the term alcoholic had not yet been created), told them their experiences with alcohol abuse and how the Society had helped hem achieve sobriety. By May 1942 it had swept across the US, with between 1 and 6 million members and between 100,000 and 600,000 reformed drunkards. Abe Lincoln was a prominent member of the Washingtonians. With the passage of time the Society became a prohibitionist organization in that it promoted the legal and mandatory prohibition of alcoholic beverages. By 1848 it was gone.
  • Rowland Hazard (1881-1945) was the sober alcoholic who brought the spiritual message of The Oxford Group to Ebby Thacher. Thacher carried the message to Bill Wilson. Wilson then based much of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous on Oxford Group principles. The rest is history; millions have recovered from alcoholism. Hazard was born October 29, 1881 into a prominent, enormously wealthy Rhode Island industrial family. He was the oldest son of Rowland Gibson and Mary Pierrepont Bushnell Hazard. An unbroken line of Hazard men named Rowland dates back to 1763. His grandfather and great-great-grandfather had the same name. So: he sometimes used the name Rowland Hazard III. He named one of his companies, Rowland Third, Inc. The Hazard family ユ s colonial roots dated back to 1635 and its members were large-scale landowners, manufacturers and people of learning in science and literature. They were respected widely as achievers and as philanthropists. The family resided in a colony of estates at Peace Dale, Rhode Island. Oakwood was built in the 1800 ユ s by Rowland ユ s paternal grandfather. Rowland lived from age 11 at Holly House. His Aunt Helen ユ s home, The Acorns, was where 1941 Pulitzer Prize winning poet Leonard Bacon grew up. And, there was Scallop Shell, the home of Rowland ユ s Aunt Caroline, on her return from serving as President of Wellesley College. Rowland was the tenth generation of Hazards born in Rhode Island. The subject of this writing was a Yale graduate (BA, 1903). Some of his classmates called him, メ Ike モ or メ Rowley モ . He sang in the varsity glee club and chapel choir and was a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. Both his father and paternal grandfather had graduated from Brown University. The males on his mother ユ s side of the family favored Yale. One of these was Eli Whitney, who invented the cotton gin. Rowland spent the years immediately following Yale learning the various family businesses. He began at The Peace Dale Manufacturing Company, of Peace Dale Rhode Island, a woolen mill that produced much of the family wealth. That mill had made blankets for the Army during the Civil War. Rowland then moved on to work in family industries producing coke and coke ovens, soda ash, calcium chloride and soda bicarbonate in Chicago and Syracuse, before returning to Peace Dale Manufacturing in 1906, as Secretary-Treasurer. In October 1910, Rowland married his wife, Helen Hamilton Campbell, a Briar Cliff graduate, the daughter of a Chicago banker. They had one daughter and three sons. Two of their three sons were killed while serving with the U-S armed forces during World War Two. Like many of his family, Rowland was active in Republican Party politics. He was a delegate to the 1912 national party convention, which re-nominated President William Howard Taft. Hazard was a Rhode Island State Senator from 1914 to 1916. Previously he had served as President of the South Kingstown, Rhode Island Town Council When World War 1 began, Rowland became a civilian official of the Ordinance Department. But, he resigned later to accept a commission as Captain in the U-S Army ユ s Chemical Warfare Service. It ユ s unclear precisely when Rowland ユ s drinking problems began. The socially elite of that time were quite guarded about private family matters. But, relatives who were alive at the time this research began say they believe Rowland ユ s alcohol problems began when he was quite young. These relatives note that covering up his heavy drinking was no problem for Rowland, because he was a member of the family that owned the businesses. And they conclude that he probably hit bottom hard before he decided to consult with doctors for help. Rowland sought treatment for his rapidly progressing alcoholism from all of the major psychiatrists in the United States. None had an answer that worked. Dr. Sigmund Freud, according to legend, was too busy to take Rowland ユ s case. So: in 1931, still drinking, at 50, Hazard traveled to Zurich, Switzerland, where he consulted Dr. Carl Gustav Jung ム then considered, with the possible exception of Freud, the finest psychiatrist in the world. Dr. Jung treated Rowland for his drinking problem. That much is clear from Jung ユ s correspondence with Bill Wilson, published in the AA book, メ Pass It On モ . But, there are at least two different conclusions concerning precisely when, to what extent and at what intervals the treatment took place. Some AA historians believe Jung treated Hazard, in Zurich, for almost a year and that Hazard then felt fully ready to return home to the United States ム convinced he had solved his drinking problem, and that the solution was self-knowledge. They believe Rowland left Zurich by train and got as far as Paris before he got drunk. Other AA historians believe Rowland returned to the United States before he drank again. It ユ s generally agreed that Hazard returned immediately to Zurich and Dr. Jung for an explanation concerning his relapse. But, records on file among the Hazard Family Papers in the Manuscripts Division of the Rhode Island Historical Society show that Rowland was in the United States for part of every month of 1931 and 1932, with the exception of a family trip to Europe from June 12 to September 10, 1931. During that time period, Hazard can be traced to France, on July 9, Italy on July 20 and apparently to England on August 13, 1931. Furthermore, there is no evidence in the records of the RIHS to suggest Hazard was in Switzerland at all during 1931 or ユ 32. And RIHS officials note that the Hazard family commented quite freely, on other occasions, about Rowland ユ s travels and treatment. That Jung treated Rowland Hazard hardly seems in dispute. In his published correspondence with Bill Wilson, Jung said he treated him. But, the RIHS records make it appear unlikely that the treatment was seven days per week, for an entire year. It is possible the treatment took place over a one-year period, but was intermittent. At the conclusion of treatment, following Hazard ユ s relapse, Jung told Rowland that he had done everything he could for him, clinically. He told the despondent Hazard that psychiatry and medicine could no nothing more for him and that his only hope would be to have what the psychiatrist called a メ vital spiritual experience モ . Dr. Jung further suggested that Rowland find what we would now call a メ self-help group モ to help him have such an experience. Hazard joined The Oxford Group, a spiritual, evangelical group founded on first-century Christian principles and practices (prayer, meditation, and guidance). The Group was then at the height of its success and popularity in Europe. Through attending meetings and practicing the group ユ s beliefs, Rowland had a conversion experience such as Dr. Jung had described, an experience that released him from the obsession/compulsion to drink. (There is disagreement among A.A. historians over whether Rowland ユ s spiritual experience happened in Europe or the U-S. Most believe it happened in Europe.) Some psychiatric experts call it a blessing that Dr. Freud was too busy to see Rowland. They say it ユ s fortunate he consulted Dr. Jung. They point out that while Jung insisted the solution to Rowland ユ s alcoholism was spiritual, a turning to God, a conversion experience: Freud would have condemned any such spiritual experience as a neurosis. In the United States, Hazard connected with The Oxford Group in New York, led by the Rev. Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, at the mission of Calvary Episcopal Church, on 23 rd . Street, in Manhattan. In 1932, Rowland moved to Shaftsbury, Vermont. There, during August 1934, he heard from two other Oxford Groupers about Edwin Throckmorton メ Ebby モ Thacher ユ s pending six-month sentence to Windsor Prison for drunkenness and alcoholic insanity. Hazard and fellow Oxford Grouper Cebra Graves attended Ebby ユ s sentencing hearing in court at Bennington, Vermont. There are two conflicting accounts of what happened next. The first version says they told the presiding judge, Judge Collins Graves, Cebra ユ s father, of their group ユ s success in controlling alcohol problems and asked the Court to release Ebby to Rowland ユ s custody. This version says Judge Graves consented. The second version says it was Judge Graves who asked Hazard to take Ebby under his wing and that Rowland consented. Both versions conclude the same way: that Ebby was released to Rowland ユ s custody and, Rowland, Cebra and a third Group member, Shep Cornell, began taking Ebby with them to Oxford Group meetings in Vermont. Ebby moved with Rowland to New York, later in 1934. And, it was there, during late November 1934 that Ebby Thacher, sober approximately two months, brought the message of recovery from alcoholism through the principles of The Oxford Group, to Bill Wilson, in Wilson ユ s kitchen, at 182 Clinton Street, Brooklyn Heights. That visit would result, approximately seven months later, in the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. Yet, Rowland Hazard, who played such a major part in AA ユ s birth, returned to drinking. Records of the Hazard family indicate he was treated in 1933-1934 by the well-known lay therapist Courtenay Baylor. In August 1936, the Hazard family paid to have Rowland brought home to Rhode Island from his ranch in Alamagordo, New Mexico, because his drinking had become still more serious. Rowland apparently consented. His younger brother, Thomas, authorized the use of funds from the family-owned Aguadero Corporation to cover the expenses. But, later events tempt one to conclude that Rowland must have stopped drinking, again, at least for a time. From 1938 to 1939 he was associated with an engineering firm, Lockwood-Greene Engineers, Inc. From 1940 to 1941 he was an independent consultant. In 1941 he became vice-president and general manager of the Bristol Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticutt. (Bristol was a leading manufacturer of industrial measuring and recording devices.) Rowland Hazard died of a coronary occlusion, (a heart blockage) on Thursday, December 20, 1945, while at work in his office at Bristol Manufacturing. He was 64. The fact that he was a top executive of a major corporation at the time of his death suggests that Rowland had stopped drinking again. Nonetheless, some A.A. historians question whether he died sober. He had stayed active in The Oxford Group and remained in the group after it changed its name to Moral Rearmament (MRA) in 1938. Some early AA members said they knew Rowland because he sometimes visited the old 24 th . Street clubhouse, which Bill, Lois and others had established during early June 1940 in a former stable at 334 West 24th Street, in Manhattan. But, there is no evidence that Rowland Hazard ever joined AA. SOURCES: AA publications メ Alcoholics Anonymous モ , メ Pass It On モ and メ The Grapevine モ (May 1995); The Hazard Family Papers, Manuscripts Division of The Rhode Island Historical Society and Rick Stattler, Curator; メ Not-God モ by Ernest Kurtz; メ Ebby The Man Who Sponsored Bill W. モ by Mel B; メ Lois Remembers モ by Lois Burnham Wilson; メ Bill W. モ by Francis Hartigan; The Archives of the AA General Service Office and The Providence Journal.
  • Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875 - June 6, 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist, influential thinker, and founder of analytical psychology. Jung ’ s unique and broadly influential approach to psychology has emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. Although he was a theoretical psychologist and practicing clinician for most of his life, much of his life ユ s work was spent exploring other realms, including Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, sociology, as well as literature and the arts. His most notable contributions include his concept of the psychological archetype, the collective unconscious, and his theory of synchronicity. Jung emphasized the importance of balance and harmony. He cautioned that modern humans rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of the unconscious realm. It is for this reason that Jungian ideas are not typically included in curriculum of most major universities ’ psychology departments, but are occasionally explored in humanities departments. Jung ’ s work on himself and his patients convinced him that life has a spiritual purpose beyond material goals. Our main task, he believed, is to discover and fulfill our deep-innate potential, much as the acorn contains the potential to become the oak, or the caterpillar to become the butterfly. Based on his study of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Taoism, and other traditions, Jung perceived that this journey of transformation is at the mystical heart of all religions. It is a journey to meet the self and at the same time to meet the Divine. Unlike Sigmund Freud, Jung thought spiritual experience was essential to our well-being. When asked during a 1959 BBC interview if he believed in the existence of God, Jung replied, “ I don ’ t believe-I know ” Jung ’ s influence can sometimes be found in more unexpected quarters. For example, Jung once treated an American patient (Rowland H.) suffering from chronic alcoholism. After working with the patient for some time, and achieving no significant progress, Jung told the man that his alcoholic condition was near to hopeless, save only the possibility of a spiritual experience. Jung noted that occasionally such experiences had been known to reform alcoholics where all else had failed. Rowland took Jung ’ s advice seriously and set about seeking a personal spiritual experience. He returned home to the United States and joined a Christian evangelical church. He also told other alcoholics what Jung had told him about the importance of a spiritual experience. One of the alcoholics he told was Ebby Thatcher, a long-time friend and drinking buddy of Bill Wilson, later co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Thatcher told Wilson about Jung ’ s ideas. Wilson, who was finding it impossible to maintain sobriety, was impressed and sought out his own spiritual experience. The influence of Jung thus indirectly found its way into the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous, the original 12-step program, and from there into the whole 12-step recovery movement, although AA as a whole is not Jungian and Jung had no role in the formation of that approach or the 12 steps. The above claims are documented in the letters of Carl Jung and Bill W., excerpts of which can be found in Pass It On , published by Alcoholics Anonymous. The detail of this story is disputed by some historians. Jung died in 1961 in Z ur ich, Switzerland.
  • The Oxford Group was a Christian organization founded by American Christian missionary Dr. Frank Buchman . The original members of the group had no formal affiliation with the University of Oxford – they had adopted the name after a porter on a train group members were traveling on mistakenly posted a sign by their Pullman indicating they had come from Oxford . The group promoted a belief in divine guidance: one should wait for God to give direction in every aspect of life and surrender to that advice. Buchman's program emphasized acknowledgment of offenses against others, making restitution to those sinned against, and promoting the group to the public. Prior to World War II , the Oxford Group changed its name to Moral Re-Armament and believed that divine guidance would prevent war from breaking out. Daphne du Maurier 's Come Wind, Come Weather recounted inspirational stories derived from Oxford Group experiences during the early years of WWII . Moral Re-Armament would eventually change its name again, to Initiatives of Change. In 1965, Up with People was founded by members, and with the support, of Moral Re-Armament. The London newspaper editor Arthur J. Russell joined the Oxford Group after attending a meeting in 1931. He wrote For Sinners Only in 1932, which inspired the writers of God Calling . The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous , Bill W. and Dr. Bob Smith , were inspired by Oxford Group principles.
  • Franklin Nathaniel Daniel Buchman (June 4, 1878 - August 7, 1961) was a Protestant Christian evangelist who founded the Oxford Group (after 1938 known as Moral Re-Armament). Frank Buchman was born in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, the son of a wholesale liquor salesman and restaurateur and a pious Lutheran mother. When he was sixteen he moved with his parents to Allentown. Buchman studied at Muhlenberg College and Mount Airy Seminary and was ordained a Lutheran minister in June, 1902. Buchman ユ s career began with the creation of a new church in Overbrook. After a visit to Europe, he decided to establish a hostel (called a メ hospice モ ) in a poor district of Philadelphia along the lines of Freidrich von Bodelschwing ユ s colony for the mentally ill in Bielefeld and inspired by Toynbee Hall. However, conflict with overseers of the hostel led to his resignation. Buchman then took another trip to Europe, during which he was introduced to Princess Sophie of Greece, who was reportedly impressed with some assistance he had given to an elderly American couple in Greece. She asked him to send a message to Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey. Buchman also attended the Keswick Convention, during which he had a religious experience when listening to a sermon by Jessie Penn-Lewis. In 1909, Buchman became YMCA secretary at Penn State College. During this time he began the practice of a daily メ quiet time モ , which may have come from a meeting with the Quaker-influenced Baptist, Frederick Brotherton Meyer (1847-1929), who was one of the leading lights of the Keswick Convention evangelical movement. The decisive influence, however, appears to have been Yale University theology professor Henry Burt Wright (1877-1923) and his 1909 book The will of God and a man ユ s lifework , which was itself influenced by Frederick Brotherton Meyer and Henry Drummond, among others. Buchman ユ s YMCA work took him to India with evangelist Sherwood Eddy, where he met Mahatma Gandhi, and to China. Buchman next took a post at Hartford Theological Seminary, where he gathered a group of students to assist in the conversion of China to Christianity. He believed that this could be achieved if he converted fifteen leaders. While in China, he was asked to lead missionary conferences at Kuling and Peitaiho, which he saw as an opportunity to train native Chinese leaders. However, he came into conflict with other missionaries, and he caused offence with the inference of homosexuality among the missionary fraternity. Bishop Logan Roots asked him to leave. While still based at Hartford, Buchman spent much of his time travelling and forming groups of Christian students at Princeton University and Yale University, as well as Oxford. Eventually, Buchman resigned his position at Hartford, and thereafter relied on gifts from patrons such as Margaret Tjader. Buchman gathered a group of associates around him that included Sam Shoemaker. Buchman designed a strategy of holding メ house parties モ at various locations, during which he hoped for Christian commitment among those attending. Between 1931 and 1935, around 150 Oxford undergraduates came to form what became known as the Oxford Group. The group was publicised by the support of Paul Hodder-Williams, of the publishing firm Hodder and Stoughton, and he arranged for a column to appear in the firm ユ s magazine, the British Weekly . Buchman saw his efforts as an alternative to the attractions of Communism to intellectuals. During this time Buchman became increasingly well-known and well-connected. Buchman travelled widely in Europe during the 1930s, and sought unsuccessfully to meet with Hitler, whom he hoped to convert. His visits to Scandinavia were credited by some churchmen there as having had a profound influence on reconciliation between various individuals which were crucial for the war years. In 1938 a Swedish socialist and Oxford Group member named Harry Blomberg, wrote of the need to rearm morally. Buchman liked the term, and launched Moral Re-Armament - MRA - in east London. For a while, it also had a base in Mackinac Island, a location found by Mrs Henry Ford; later MRA ユ s Headquarters moved to the village of Caux, in Switzerland, above Lake Geneva. MRA worked to decrease conflict between unions and management, and between various political forces, by inviting groups to meet at the MRA base at Caux. It also developed a number of stage plays which demonstrated MRA ユ s principles of メ Absolute Love, Absolute Purity, Absolute Unselfishness and Absolute Honesty モ . In London, the movement subsequently acquired the Westminster Theatre. Following the Second World War, Buchman believed that MRA had a role to play in international reconciliation. Groups of Germans and Japanese were brought to Caux; Buchman also involved himself with the affairs of Morocco. Buchman ユ s spirituality included four main elements he believed necessary for living a life of goodness: 1. a daily メ quiet time モ during which he claimed to receive メ divine guidance モ by which he lived all aspects his life 2. public and private confession of sin 3. restitution for harm done to others in the past; and 4. evangelism of these principles to those who were still メ defeated by sin. モ Buchman believed that his メ quiet time モ gave him a special insight into particular situations, and some of the anecdotes about this insight suggest that his followers believe him to have had paranormal abilities. He believed that human nature could be changed and that change had to start in each individual, for one cannot change the world without first changing oneself. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, William メ Bill W. モ Wilson and Robert メ Dr. Bob モ Smith were both active members in the Oxford Movement and believed that the principles of the Oxford Groups were the key to overcoming alcoholism. Psychologist Howard Clinebell called Buchman メ one of the foremost pioneers of the modern mutual-assistance philosophy モ , and Paul Tournier was also greatly impressed. Buchman never married. Despite failing health that eventually led to blindness and immobility, he remained as active as possible until his death in 1961 Buchman was a controversial figure throughout much of his adult life, and critics dubbed his movement as メ Buchmanism モ from the 1920s. He was banned from Princeton, and in the UK his critics included Hensley Henson, who was the Bishop of Durham, and the left-wing MP Tom Driberg. On the other hand, Buchman was supported by figures such as Cosmo Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Malcolm Muggeridge. One of Buchman ユ s close colleagues, Peter Howard, was a Daily Express journalist who came into his orbit after investigating him for his newspaper.
  • In 1960, at the Long Beach, California Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson wrote this dedication in an AA book that he gave to Ebby Thacher: “Dear Ebby, No day passes that I do not remember that you brought me the message that saved me - and only God knows how many more. In affection, Bill” It was Ebby who found relief from his alcoholism in the simple spiritual practices of the Oxford Group which was an attempt to return to First Century Christianity - before it was complicated and distorted by religious doctrines, dogma and opinions. The program offered by Ebby to Bill involved taking a personal moral inventory, admitting to another person the wrongs we had done, making things right by amends and restitution, and a genuine effort to be of real service to others. In order to obtain the power to overcome these problems, Ebby had been encouraged to call on God, as he understood God, for help. Bill was deeply impressed by Ebby¹s words, but was even more affected by Ebby¹s example of action. Here was someone who drank like Bill drank - and yet Ebby was sober, due to a simple religious idea and a practical program of action. The results were an inexplicably different person, fresh-skinned, glowing face, with a different look in his eyes. A miracle sat directly across the kitchen table from Bill. Ebby was not some²do-gooder² who had read something in a book. Here was a hopeless alcoholic who had been completely defeated by John Barleycorn, and yet, had in effect, been raised from the dead. It was a message of hope for an alcoholic - that God would do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Bill continued to drink in a more restrained way for a short while, and then was admitted to Towns Hospital on December 11, 1934. Ebby visited him there on December 14th and essentially helped Bill take what would become Steps Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight. But that ³boost² from Ebby¹s visit wore off and that night, Bill¹s feeling of hopelessness deepened and a terrifying darkness yawned in the abyss. As the last trace of self-will was crushed, Bill said to himself, with neither faith nor hope, ³I¹ll do anything, anything at all! If there be a God, let Him show Himself!² The Conference approved biography, Pass It On, quotes Bill as describing this experience: € ³What happened next was electric. Suddenly, my room blazed with an indescribably white light. I was seized with an ecstasy beyond description. Every joy I had known was pale by comparison. The light, the ecstasy - I was conscious of nothing else for a time. € Then, seen in the mind¹s eye, there was a mountain. I stood upon its summit, where a great wind blew. A wind, not of air, but of spirit. In great, clean strength, it blew right through me. Then came the blazing thought, ³You are a free man.² I know not at all how long I remained in this state, but finally the light and the ecstasy subsided. I again saw the wall of my room. As I became more quiet, a great peace stole over me, and this was accompanied by a sensation difficult to describe. I became acutely conscious of a Presence, which seemed like a veritable sea of living spirit. I lay on the shores of a new world.² Ebby had carried the message of the Oxford Group to Bill with great care and dedication‹that recovery from alcoholism was possible using spiritual principles, but only if it was combined with practical actions. Bill Wilson never took another drink, and left Towns Hospital to dedicate the rest of his life to carrying the message to other alcoholics.
  • William James ( January 11 , 1842 – August 26 , 1910 ) was a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher . He wrote influential books on the young science of psychology, educational psychology , psychology of religious experience and mysticism , and the philosophy of pragmatism . He was the brother of novelist Henry James and of diarist Alice James . James did important work in philosophy of religion . In his Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh he provided a wide-ranging account of The Varieties of Religious Experience ( 1902 ) and interpreted them according to his pragmatic leanings. Some of the important claims he makes in this regard: Religious genius (experience) should be the primary topic in the study of religion, rather than religious institutions—since institutions are merely the social descendant of genius. The intense, even pathological varieties of experience (religious or otherwise) should be sought by psychologists, because they represent the closest thing to a microscope of the mind—that is, they show us in drastically enlarged form the normal processes of things. In order to usefully interpret the realm of common, shared experience and history, we must each make certain " over-beliefs " in things which, while they cannot be proven on the basis of experience, help us to live fuller and better lives. The investigation of mystical experience was constant throughout the life of James, leading him to experiment with chloral hydrate (1870), amyl nitrite (1875), nitrous oxide (1882), and even peyote (1896). James claimed that it was only when he was under the influence of nitrous oxide that he was able to understand Hegel . [6] He concluded that while the revelations of the mystic hold true, they hold true only for the mystic; for others, they are certainly ideas to be considered, but can hold no claim to truth without personal experience of such.
  • "I am neither a theologian, nor a scholar learned in the history of religions, nor an anthropologist. Psychology is the only branch of learning in which I am particularly versed. To the psychologist the religious propensities of man must be at least as interesting as any other of the facts pertaining to his mental constitution. It would seem, therefore, as a psychologist, the natural thing for me would be to invite you to a descriptive survey of those religious propensities." When William James went to the University of Edinburgh in 1901 to deliver a series of lectures on "natural religion," he defined religion as "the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine." Considering religion, then, not as it is defined by--or takes place in--the churches, but as it is felt in everyday life, he undertook a project that, upon completion, stands not only as one of the most important texts on psychology ever written, not only as a vitally serious contemplation of spirituality, but for many critics one of the best works of nonfiction written in the 20th century. Reading The Varieties of Religious Experience , it is easy to see why. Applying his analytic clarity to religious accounts from a variety of sources, James elaborates a pluralistic framework in which "the divine can mean no single quality, it must mean a group of qualities, by being champions of which in alternation, different men may all find worthy missions."
  • William Griffith Wilson (26 November 1895–24 January 1971) (also known as Bill Wilson or Bill W.), was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a fellowship of self-help groups dedicated to helping alcoholics recover from their addiction. According to the AA tradition of anonymity,[1] Wilson was and still is commonly known as “Bill W.” In 1934, in the course of his struggle with alcoholism, Wilson underwent a spiritual experience that apparently gave him the strength to stop drinking. He then took his method to other alcoholics, starting with AA co-founder Dr. Bob Smith in 1935. Working with the members of a growing society of recovering alcoholics, Wilson developed the Twelve-step spiritual program and the basic organizational guidelines for AA known as the Twelve Traditions. In spite of his sobriety, success, and recognition, Wilson was a deeply troubled man who suffered from compulsive behaviour and frequent depressions. Wilson turned over leadership of AA to the service board in 1955, and for the remainder of his life was free to experiment with alternate cures. He took an interest in spiritualism, in niacin (vitamin B3) as a possible cure for alcoholism, and in LSD as a means of inducing spiritual change.[2] Wilson died of lung diseases in 1971. His wife, Lois Wilson was the founder of Al-Anon, a group dedicated to helping the friends and relatives of alcoholics. When Wilson was 10, his father left on a business trip that turned out to be a permanent absence, and his mother announced that she would be leaving the family to study Osteopathic medicine. Abandoned by their parents, Wilson and his sister were left in the care of their maternal grandparents. Wilson showed some talent and determination in his teen years. He designed and carved a working boomerang after dozens of failed efforts. He taught himself to play the fiddle by dogged persistence, pasting to the neck of the instrument a diagram of the notes. At school, after initial difficulties, he found success in sports. But he experienced a serious depression at the age of seventeen when his first love, Bertha Bamford, died from complications during surgery. Wilson met his future wife Lois Burnham, who was four years older than him, during the summer of 1913 while sailing on Vermont’s Emerald Lake; two years later the couple became engaged. Wilson was called into the army in 1917. During military training in Massachusetts, the young officers were often invited to dinner by the locals, and Wilson had his first drink, a glass of beer, to little effect. [3] A few weeks later at another dinner party Wilson drank some Bronx cocktails, and felt at ease with the guests and liberated from his awkward shyness; “I had found the elixir of life,” he wrote.[4] “Even that first evening I got thoroughly drunk, and within the next time or two I passed out completely. But as everyone drank hard, not too much was made of that.”[5] Bill and Lois were married on January 24, 1918, just before he left to join the war in Europe. After an uneventful military service but much exposure to wine and beer, Wilson returned to live with his wife in New York, his dependence on alcohol now fully established. He failed to graduate from law school because he was too drunk to pick up his diploma.[6] Wilson became a stock speculator and had success travelling the country with his wife, evaluating companies for potential investors. (During these trips Lois had a hidden agenda: she hoped the travel would keep Wilson from drinking.[7]) However his constant drinking made business impossible and ruined his reputation. As his drinking grew more serious, starting in 1933 he had to be committed to the Towns psychiatric hospital three times under the care of Dr. William D. Silkworth. Silkworth’s theory was that alcoholism took the form of an allergy (the inability to stop drinking once started) and an obsession (to take the first drink). Wilson gained hope from Silkworth’s assertion alcoholism was a medical condition rather than a moral failing, but even that knowledge could not help him. He was eventually told that he would either die from his alcoholism or have to be locked up permanently due to alcoholic insanity. One day, an old drinking friend named Ebby Thacher phoned Wilson wanting to visit with him. Expecting to spend a day drinking and re-living old times, Wilson was instead shocked by Thacher’s refusal to drink. “I’ve got religion” he said to explain his unexpected abstinence. Thatcher had been sober for several weeks under the guidance of the Oxford Group, an evangelical society that among other pursuits, sought to help drunkards achieve sobriety. Shortly after Ebby’s visit, Bill was admitted to Towns Hospital to recover from another bout of drinking. According to Bill, while lying in bed depressed and despairing he cried out, “I’ll do anything! Anything at all! If there be a God, let Him show Himself!”.[8] He then had the sensation of a bright light, a feeling of ecstasy, and a new serenity. He never drank again for the remainder of his life. Bill described what happened to Dr. Silkworth, who told him not to discount this experience. Ebby visited Bill in hospital and walked him through some of the basic tenets of the Oxford Group. Upon his release from the hospital, Bill was told to seek out and bring the message of his recovery to others as Ebby had done for him. Wilson joined the Oxford movement and set out trying to help other alcoholics, but he had no success in helping anyone get sober. Wilson visited Dr. Silkworth, who told him to stop preaching[9] and to try talk to alcoholics about the grave nature of their disease, about the allergy and the obsession, and about Wilson’s personal experience with alcohol. It was not long before Wilson had his chance to try this new approach. In 1935 Wilson made a business trip to Akron, Ohio. The venture fell through, and in a state of gloom and frustration he was tempted to drink again. He decided that his only hope in remaining sober was to help another alcoholic. So instead of entering a nearby bar, Wilson entered a phone booth at his hotel and started calling the phone numbers on a church directory he saw there. He eventually got through to Henrietta Seiberling, who was a member of an Oxford Group circle that had been searching for a solution to Dr. Bob Smith’s drinking problem. Henrietta arranged a meeting between the two men. Dr. Bob had been unable to stay sober on his own, so he was skeptical that Wilson would be able to help him, but he agreed to give Wilson fifteen minutes nevertheless. Fifteen minutes turned into four hours as Wilson told Dr. Bob of the solution he had found. Not long after, Dr. Bob had his last drink—a beer to help steady his hand to perform surgery. The new approach had worked so well that Wilson and Dr. Bob decided to try it with another alcoholic. The two men went to a hospital to talk to another alcoholic named Bill D. They used the same approach that Wilson had used on Dr. Bob. Bill D. sobered up and now there were three men carrying the new message of recovery. (Years later, this meeting was recognised as the first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.) The three men then carried the message to another alcoholic, and so the fellowship began its growth. Wilson soon returned to New York and began to carry the message there. His efforts bore fruit and soon there was a second group in New York City. In 1938, after about 100 alcoholics in Akron and New York had sobered up, the fellowship decided that a book would be the best way to promote their program of recovery; Wilson was chosen as primary author. The book was written to carry the message as a face-to-face meeting, and included the list of suggested activities for spiritual growth called the Twelve Steps. The title “Alcoholics Anonymous” was selected for the book, and the movement took on the same name. After positive articles in Liberty magazine in 1939 and the Saturday Evening Post in 1941, AA began its rapid growth. But when Wilson and Lois made a cross-country trip to visit AA groups, they found a wide variety of practices and rules, such as groups with charismatic leaders and groups with no concerns for anonymity.[10] Wilson began to form a vision for a purely democratic constitution that would allow no accumulation of money, power, and prestige within AA. Ten years later, these rules were published as the “Twelve Traditions.” The AA general service conference of 1955 was a landmark event for Wilson in which he turned over the leadership of the maturing organisation to an elected board. In the final fifteen years of his life, Wilson experimented with various novel treatments for alcoholism such as niacin (vitamin B3). For a time he became involved in experiments with LSD as a means of inducing the spiritual change he saw as essential to a release from alcoholism.[11] For Wilson, spiritualism (communicating with the spirits of the dead) was a life-long interest. One of his letters to his spiritual advisor Fr. Ed Dowling suggests that while Wilson was working on his text book of the twelve steps and traditions he felt that his spiritualist activities were helping him: “I have good help — of that I am certain. Both here and over there,” — the ‘over there’ referring to the spirit world.[12] AA historian Ernest Kurtz asserts that “... despite his conviction that he had evidence for the reality of ‘the spiritual’ and so — in his logic — of the actual existence of a ‘higher Power,’ Wilson chose not to share, much less to proclaim or to impose, this foundation for faith either with, to, or upon Alcoholics Anonymous.”[13] Wilson and his AA colleagues took pains to keep Wilson’s unconventional spiritual activities away from AA and public scrutiny.[14] During the last years of his life, Wilson ceased attending AA meetings on the grounds that he would always be asked to speak as the co-founder rather than as an alcoholic.[15] Wilson’s life was continuously slowed by another compulsion that he had not been able to drop: smoking, which brought on emphysema and later pneumonia. He continued to smoke even while dependent on an oxygen tank in the late 1960s.[16] During the last days of his life, his health fading, Wilson was visited by colleagues and friends who wanted to say goodbye. Wilson died of emphysema and pneumonia on 24 January 1971 en route to treatment in Miami, Florida. Wilson was a man of many great strengths and just as great weaknesses. He loved being the center of attention, but after the AA principle of anonymity had become established he refused an honorary degree from Yale University and refused to allow his picture — even from the back — on the cover of Time. Wilson’s persistence, his ability to take and use good ideas, and his entrepreneurial flair[17] are revealed in his pioneering escape from an alcoholic ‘death sentence’, his central role in the development of a program of spiritual growth, and his leadership in creating and building AA, “an independent, entrepreneurial, maddeningly democratic, non-profit organization.”[18] Unknown to most of the AA membership, Wilson received millions of dollars in royalties from sales of AA books. In 1940 Bill bought out his publishing partner, Hank P., for $200 — taking advantage of Hank’s being on a slip, “completely broke and very shaky”. In a few years the share for which Hank received $200 would have been worth millions.[19] Wilson never escaped from smoking and other compulsive behaviours. He was an unfaithful husband and womanizer. He had a mistress by the name of Helen Wynn who actually received ten percent of Wilson’s royalties from the book Alcoholics Anonymous after his death.[20] Later in his life Wilson actually had to be kept away from young women who arrived at AA meetings needing help.[21] Wilson is perhaps best known as a synthesist of ideas,[22] the man who pulled together various threads of psychology, theology, and democracy into a workable and life-saving system. Aldous Huxley called him “the greatest social architect of our century,”[23] and Time magazine named Wilson to their “Time 100” list of The Most Important People of the 20th Century. According to Susan Cheever, Wilson’s self description was a man who “because of his bitter experience, discovered, slowly and through a conversion experience, a system of behaviour and a series of actions that works for alcoholics who want to stop drinking.” John Sutherland, in a review of My Name is Bill, sums up Wilson’s character as follows:[24] Despite his victory over drink, Wilson remained incurably addictive. He chain-smoked himself into terminal emphysema. Even on his deathbed, he puffed incorrigibly as he suffocated. Although he drank nothing for the last thirty-seven years of his life, he always craved the stuff...Despite his programme’s insistence on “rigorous honesty”, Bill W. lived a lie. He had innumerable affairs and a long-term mistress with whom he contemplated eloping to Ireland (the scandal would probably have destroyed Alcoholics Anonymous). Susan Cheever’s final judgement is unblinking but forgiving: “Bill Wilson never held himself up as a model: he only hoped to help other people by sharing his own experience, strength and hope. He insisted again and again that he was just an ordinary man”. An ordinary man who nonetheless did one extraordinary thing. References 1. ^ Tradition 11 of AA states “... we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and film.” 2. ^ (1984) “Pass it on”: the story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. ISBN 0916856127. 3. ^ Cheever, Susan. (2004). My Name is Bill. Simon and Schuster, p 73. ISBN 074320154X. 4. ^ “Bill W.: from the rubble of a wasted life, he overcame alcoholism and founded the 12-step program that has helped millions of others do the same.” (Time’s “The Most Important People of the 20th Century”.) Susan Cheever. Time 153.23 (June 14, 1999): p201+. 5. ^ Pass it on p 56. 6. ^ Cheever, 2004, p 91. 7. ^ Pass it on p 59. 8. ^ Pass it on p 121. 9. ^ Pass it on p 133. 10. ^ Cheever, 2004, pp 171-172 and 186-187. 11. ^ (1984) Pass It on: The Story of Bill Wilson and How the A. A. Message Reached the World. Alcoholics Anonymous, 368-376. ISBN 0916856127.  12. ^ Robert Fitzgerald. The Soul of Sponsorship: The Friendship of Fr. Ed Dowling, S.J. and Bill Wilson in Letters. Hazelden Publishing & Educational Services: 1995. ISBN-13: 978-1568380841. p 59. 13. ^ Ernest Kurtz. Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous. Hazelden Educational Foundation, Center City, MN, 1979. p 136. 14. ^ Kurtz 1979, p 136. 15. ^ Raphael 2000, p. 167. 16. ^ Cheever, 2004, pp 245 - 247. 17. ^ Griffith Edwards. Alcohol: The World’s Favorite Drug. 1st U.S. ed. New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2002. ISBN 0-312-28387-3. p 109. 18. ^ Are we making the most of Alcoholics Anonymous? Peter Armstrong. The Journal of Addiction and Mental Health 5.1, Jan-Feb 2002. p16. 19. ^ Raphael 2000, Cheever 2004. 20. ^ Cheever, 2004, p 231. 21. ^ Cheever, 2004, p 225. 22. ^ Cheever, 2004, p 122. 23. ^ Cheever, 1999. 24. ^ John Sutherland, Spirit against spirits (review of My Name is Bill by Susan Cheevers), Times Literary Supplement, June 27th, 2004. Sources and furher reading • Bill W. (2004). The A.A. Service Manual combined with Twelve Concepts for World Service, 2004-2005 Edition, New York: Alcoholics Anonymous.  • Susan Cheever. My Name is Bill, Bill Wilson: His Life and the Creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. New York: Simon & Schuster/ Washington Square Press. ISBN 978-0-7434-0591-1 (paperback).  • Bill W.. Alcoholics Anonymous. The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism, 4th ed. new and rev. 2001, New York: Alcoholics Anonymous. ISBN 1-893007-16-2, Dewey 362.29 A347 2001.  (‘Big Book’) • Bill W.. Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous. ISBN 0-916856-02-X, LC HV5278.A78A4, Dewey: 178.1 A1c.  • Bill W. (1967). As Bill Sees It. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous. ISBN 0-916856-03-8, Dewey 616.861 ASB.  • Bill W. (2000). My First 40 Years. An Autobiography by the Cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden, 55012-0176. ISBN 1-56838-373-8, Dewey B W11w 2000.  • (1980) Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous. ISBN 0-916856-07-0, LCCN 80-65962, LC HV5278.D62 1980.  • Hartigan, Francis (2000). Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0-312-20056-0, Dewey B W11h 2000.  • Kurtz, Ernest (1979). Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden. ISBN 0-89486-065-8 or ISBN 0-89486-065-8 (pbk.), LC HV5278, LCCN 79-88264, Dewey 362.2/9286 or 362.29286 K87 1979.  • (1984) Pass It On: The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous. ISBN 0-916856-12-7, LC HV5032 .W19P37x 1984, LCCN 84-072766, Dewey 362.29/286/O92.  • Raphael, Matthew J. (2000). Bill W. and Mr. Wilson: The Legend and Life of A.A.’s Cofounder. Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 1-55849-245-3.  • Thomsen, Robert (1975). Bill W.. New York: Harper & Rowe. ISBN 0-06-014267-7, Dewey 362.29 W112t.  • (1953) Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous. ISBN 0-916856-01-1. 
  • Married January 24, 1918, before Bill went to serve in WWI.
  • William Duncan Silkworth , M.D., (1873-1951) was an American medical doctor and specialist in the treatment of alcoholism. He was Director of the Charles B. Towns Hospital for Drug and Alcohol Addictions in New York City in the 1930s, during which time Bill Wilson, a future co-founder of the mutual-help movement Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), was admitted on three separate occasions for alcoholism. Silkworth had a profound influence on Wilson and encouraged him to realize that alcoholism was more than just an issue of moral weakness. He introduced Wilson to the idea that alcoholism had a pathological, disease-like basis. William Silkworth wrote the chapter titled “ The Doctor ’ s Opinion ” in the book Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Dr. Harry M. Tiebout (“tee-bow”) , a psychiatrist, was an early pioneer in coupling the principles and philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous with psychiatric knowledge of alcoholism. A strong supporter of A.A. throughout his life, he consistently worked for acceptance of his views concerning alcoholism the medical and psychiatric professions. He served on the Board of Trustees for A.A. from 1957 to 1966, and was chairman of the National Council on Alcoholism in 1950.
  • Princeton-educated – Calvary Episcopal Church 1934 met Bill W., who called Shoemaker the “3 rd Co-Founder of AA” Shoemaker embraced; 1. ecumenism; 2. embracing the world; 3. relevance of spirituality to the common man. 1950’s – the Pittsburgh experiment “ I stand at the door” http://www.aabibliography.com/aahtml3/samshoemaker.html
  • Father Edward Dowling Dowling was a Jesuit who first heard about AA in 1940. He traveled to New York to meet Bill Wilson in person. Thus began a life-long friendship, with Dowling acting as spiritual advisor for his new (non-Catholic) friend. Dowling even introduced Wilson to the famous Serenity Prayer, which eventually became the "official" AA prayer. While not an alcoholic himself, Dowling was well acquainted with pain: he suffered from crippling arthritis. Perhaps that's why he was so impressed by AA's success in helping the chronically ill. As a Jesuit, he was also struck by the similarity between the 12 Steps and the "Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius" (which of course predated the Steps by centuries.) When Bill Wilson confessed that he'd never heard of the Exercises, Dowling began to suspect that AA must have been divinely inspired. Father Dowling's praise for AA was printed on the jacket of the Big Book and so helped many Catholic alcoholics overcome their suspicion that AA was somehow "anti-Catholic." Dowling's endorsements continued until his death some twenty years later. See also: http://www.barefootsworld.net/aafreddowling.html
  • After Lois and Bill married in 1918, they lived in a succession of apartments in the upscale area of Brooklyn Heights, New York, where Lois grew up. Some of these apartments were quite sumptuous and in keeping with their situation as Bill's financial career progressed. But when the stock market crashed in 1929 Bill, by then a chronic drinker, could no longer afford to keep any apartment, the Wilsons moved into 182 Clinton Street where Lois' devoted parents still lived. This humiliating return to her parents' home was assuaged by the fact that Lois would be able to help nurse her mother who was gravely ill with cancer. However, it was clear that it was Bill's drinking that made the move necessary. Lois' parents had lived in the large five-floor brownstone house since 1888 when her father, Clark, brought Matilda Sullivan there after their wedding. All six Burnham children (one daughter died in infancy) were born in the house and lived there with the exception of summers in Vermont. The Wilsons would live at 182 Clinton Street over eight years until 1938. During that time Lois' mother died, her father remarried and moved elsewhere, Bill's drinking progressed to "hopelessness", Ebby T. visited Bill and talked to him about spiritual recovery and Bill eventually had his own spiritual experience that led him to a sober life and the creation of AA. In 1938, Dr. Burnham died and, unable to keep the brownstone without his assistance, Lois and Bill were forced to leave it. They packed their bags and donated truckloads of furniture. However, they held on to the pieces that were valuable or had special meaning and put those in storage at a fee of $20 per month. Then, with little other choice, the Wilsons reluctantly accepted the generosity of their friends, living here and there or as Lois put it, "from pillar to post" making 52 moves in two years.
  • The city of Akron is the county seat of Summit County in the U.S. State of Ohio . The city is located between Cleveland to the north and Canton to the south. It is located in northeastern Ohio on the Cuyahoga River , approximately 60 miles (100 km) west of the Pennsylvania border. It was founded in 1825 near the Ohio & Erie Canal , and became a manufacturing center owing to its location at a staircase of locks . The locks were needed due to the higher elevation of the area, which gave rise to the name "Summit County" as well as "Akron", which is a rough translation of "summit" into Greek (Stewart, pg. 233). After the decline of heavy manufacturing, the city's industry has since diversified into research, financial, and high tech sectors. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Akron in 1935.
  • Tunks, Reverend Walter - Harvey Firestone 's minister; Bill called from Mayflower Hotel lobby May 11, 1935; Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron, long-time Oxford Group enthusiast, gave Bill 10 names call, last 1 Mrs. Seiberling ; conducted Dr. Bob's funeral services 15 years later.
  • Although Bill had worked consistently with drunks for over six months he had not been able to save anyone, with the possible exception of himself. He telephoned several of the churches listed, and was finally directed to one of the Oxford Groups leaders in town, Henrietta Seiberling. Bill tells of calling Henrietta and being so shaky that he could hardly get the coin in the slot. The first thing he asked her was, "Where can I find another alcoholic to talk to?" Henrietta’s answer was, "You stay right where you are until I get there, for I think I can take you to the very man you are looking for." This she did, and the man she took Bill to see was Dr. Bob Smith, who later became the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. When Henrietta and Bill got to Dr. Bob’s they found his wife, Annie, alone. She was in a mental uproar herself because her husband had been on the loose for several days. After Bill and Henrietta had waited and chatted on the Oxford Group policies, in popped the good doctor himself, quite potted and with a potted lily in his arms for his wife’s Mothers Day gift. When Bob had been bedded Annie insisted that Bill stay and try to straighten her husband out.
  • This is the gatehouse that Henrietta Sieberling lived in. She was a member of Akron’s Oxford Group in 1935. She was friends with Anne Smith, and had been praying for Anne’s husband, Dr. Bob Smith. When she received a call from Bill Wilson, announcing that he was a member of the Oxford group in New York and a “rum hound,” she believed that it was manna from Heaven. She quickly arranged a meeting between Bill and Dr. Bob at the gatehouse
  • Bill meets Dr. Bob - Mayflower Hotel - “I’ll give him 15 minutes” During the next few days Bill and Bob talked for hours and decided to pool their resources to help other drunks. When Bob had been dry only a few weeks, a new hurdle arose, for Bob found it was imperative for him to go to a medical convention in Atlantic City. Bob did make the convention, but suddenly found himself drunk on the train going back to Akron. However, this turned out to be his last spree, for he dates his last drink June 15, 1935. There are debates about this date – it is officially celebrated on June 10 th .
  • Robert Holbrook Smith was born on August 8th 1879 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. After graduation from Dartmouth College in 1902, he completed his medical training at Rush Medical School in Chicago. While attending college, he became a steady drinker; a situation that progressed until his recovery. In 1915 , some 17 years after he had first met her, he married his high school sweetheart Anne Ripley and brought her to Akron. Even though he became a successful surgeon, he continued to struggle with alcoholism. In 1935 Dr. Bob met Bill Wilson, a New York businessman and entrepreneur who was struggling with his own alcoholism. The two immediately became close friends, with Bill showing Dr. Bob how he, Bill, with spiritual help, was finally able to recover from the effects of alcoholism,. Dr. Bob had his last drink on June 10, 1935, and that is considered to be the founding date of Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1939 the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, written by Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob and other early members of our fellowship was published, and the fellowship that came to be known as Alcoholics Anonymous was born. Dr. Bob was called the "Prince of Twelfth Steppers" by Bill Wilson because he personally treated more than 5000 alcoholics without charge. Also, it was in Dr. Bob's home that some of the basic ideas essential to the A.A. way of life were developed. Dr. Bob always said that A.A.'s fundamental ideas came from the study of the Bible and that he personally did not write or have anything to do with the later writing of the 12 Steps. In Dr. Bob's mind, the Steps in their deepest essence simply mean "love and service." Dr. Bob died on November 16, 1950 in Akron, Ohio after 15 years of uninterrupted sobriety. Ever a self-effacing and humble man, he might be astonished, and we feel very pleased, to realize that Alcoholics Anonymous has become a world-wide organization that continues to help so many helpless alcoholics begin and continue along the Road of Happy Destiny.
  • The small, brick-fronted house tucked away on a quiet street in Akron, Ohio was to become the life-long home of Dr. Bob Smith and his wife, Anne Ripley Smith. Built in 1915, the house was where Dr. Smith brought his bride in 1916 and they were to live there for the next 34 years until their deaths; Anne in 1949 and Dr. Bob in 1950. It was here in this humble home that Dr. Smith was to take his incredible journey through the twelve steps and into history as the Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The symbolic twelve stone steps leading up to the front entrance are a living monument to the courage, vision, and resolve of this man who forged the path for so many countless others. Twenty-five years after Dr. Bob's death, a small group of Akron AA members came together with the desire to memorialize the site where AA was born. The home at 855 Ardmore Avenue was owned at that time by a young man who was a student at the University of Akron. Since AA is prohibited by its traditions from purchasing property, it was decided that a non-profit foundation should be created to purchase and maintain Dr. Bob's home as a museum. In October of 1984, a contract was negotiated and Dr. Bob's home was officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation while funding arrangements were made to complete the purchase of the home. With the assistance of Mayor Tom Sawyer, a zoning variance on the property was made by the City of Akron so that the property could be designated a "museum". In October of 1985, Dr. Bob's home was named a State Historical Site by Governor Richard Celeste, and through the good offices of U.S. Congressman John Seiberling, Henrietta Seiberling's son, Dr. Bob's home was declared a National Historical Landmark.
  • Bill Dotson, the "Man on the Bed," was AA number 3. At his death, he had not had a drink in more than nineteen years. His date of sobriety was the date he entered Akron's City Hospital for his last detox, June 26, 1935. Two days later occurred that fateful day when two sober alcoholics visited him: Dr. Bob Smith of Akron, Ohio, and Bill Wilson, a guest of Dr. Bob's from New York. A few days before, Dr. Bob had said to Bill: "If you and I are going to stay sober, we had better get busy." Dr. Bob called Akron's City Hospital and told the nurse, a "Mrs. Hall," that he and a man from New York had a cure for alcoholism. Did she have an alcoholic customer on whom they could try it out? She replied, "Well, Doctor, I suppose you've already tried it yourself?" Then she told him of a man who had just come in with DT's, had blacked the eyes of two nurses, and was now strapped down tight. "He's a grand chap when he's sober," she added. Dr. Bob prescribed some medications, and then asked her to transfer him to a private room. He also put him on a diet of sauerkraut and tomatoes. That's all he was allowed to eat during his hospitalization. The nurse told Dr. Bob and Bill that Bill Dotson had been a well-known attorney in Akron and a city councilman. But he had been hospitalized eight times in the last six months. (Bill Wilson sometimes said "six times.") Following each release, he got drunk even before he got home. Bill's wife, Henrietta Dotson, had talked to Dr. Bob and Bill earlier. When she told her husband she had been "talking to a couple of fellows about drinking" he was furious at her "disloyalty." When she told them that they were "a couple of drunks" Bill didn't mind so much. Henrietta apparently had quite a conversation with the two men, and she told her husband that their plan for staying sober themselves was to tell their plan to another drunk. Years later, Bill Dotson reflected on the jumbled thoughts in his mind as his wife left and he began to lapse back into withdrawal stupor: "All the other people that talked to me wanted to help ME, and my pride prevented me from listening to them, and caused only resentment on my part, but I felt as if I would be a real stinker if I did not listen to a couple of fellows for a short time, if that would cure THEM." So Dr. Bob and Bill talked to what may have been their first "man on the bed." They told him of the serious nature of his disease, but also offered hope for a recovery. "We told him what we had done," wrote Bill, "how we got honest with ourselves as never before, how we had talked our problems out with each other in confidence, how we tried to make amends for harm done others, how we had then been miraculously released from the desire to drink as soon as we had humbly asked God, as we understood him, for guidance and protection." But Bill Dotson was not impressed. He said, "Well, this is wonderful for you fellows, but can't be for me. My case is so terrible that I'm scared to go out of this hospital at all. You don't have to sell me religion, either. I was at one time a deacon in the church and I still believe in God. But I guess he doesn't believe much in me." (Like so many of us on first coming to AA, Bill Dotson thought he was "different.") But he did agree to see Dr. Bob and Bill again. They came again the next day, and for several days thereafter. When they arrived on July 4, they found Bill's wife, Henrietta, with him. Eagerly pointing at them, he said to his wife: "These are the fellows I told you about, they are the ones who understand." Before they could say anything, he told them about his night, how he hadn't slept but had been thinking about them all night long. And he had decided that if they could do it, maybe he could do it, maybe they could do together what they couldn't do separately. It was apparently on that day that he admitted he couldn't control his drinking and had to leave it up to God. Then they made him get down on his knees at the side of the bed and pray and say that he would turn his life over to God. Before the visit was over, he suddenly turned to his wife and said, "Go fetch my clothes, dear. We're going to get up and get out of here." He walked out of that hospital on July 4, 1935, a free man, never to drink again. AA's Number One Group dates from that day. That Fourth of July they had plenty to celebrate. So they had a picnic. The Smiths, Bill Wilson, the Dotsons, and Eddie Riley, the first alcoholic they tried to help were there. (Eddie didn't get sober at first, but later he did, and Eddie said in a talk that there were two firsts in A.A. -- the first one who accepted the program and the first who refused it.) Within a week, Bill Dotson was back in court, sober, and arguing a case. But at first his wife was doubtful. He had previously gone on the wagon and stayed sober for long periods. But then he drank again. Would this time be different? And he hadn't had that sudden transforming experience that Bill Wilson talked about. When Lois Wilson visited Akron in July of 1935, Henrietta shared these fears with her, and asked Lois whether she ever worried about her Bill drinking again. Lois answered without hesitation, "No. Never." The message had been successfully shared a second time. Dr. Bob was no fluke. And apparently you did not have to be indoctrinated by the Oxford Group before the message could take hold. The three worked with scores of others. "Many were called but mighty few chosen; failure was our daily companion. But when I left Akron in September 1935, two or three more sufferers had apparently linked themselves to us for good," wrote Bill. Dotson's story was not included in the first edition of the Big Book. Ernest Kurst seems to think it was because Bill Dotson's "credentials," were apparently too blatant: highly respectable upper middle-class background, above average education, intensive youthful religious training which had since been rejected, and former social prominence recently nullified by such behavior as his assault on two nurses. In a 1952 discussion with Bill D., he was asked why his story hadn't appeared in the first edition of the Big Book. He said that he hadn't been much interested in the project or perhaps had even thought it unnecessary. He also said that Bill Wilson had come out to Akron to record his story, which would be in the next edition of the book. It appears in the Big Book as "AA Number Three." Old timers in Akron, according to Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, "recalled that Bill Dotson, was indeed a grand chap when sober. They remembered him as one of the most engaging people they ever knew." One said: "I thought I was a real big shot because I took Bill D. to meetings," Another noted that, though Bill Dotson was influential in the area he was not an ambitious man in AA. "He wasn't aggressive, just a good A.A. If you went to him for help he would give you help. He would counsel with you. He never drove a car, but he went to meetings every night. He'd stand around with his thumbs in his vest like a Kentucky colonel. And he spoke so slowly, you wanted to reach out and pull the words from his mouth. I loved to be around him. He put you in mind of a real 'Easy Does It' guy -- Mr. Serenity." His wife, looking back in 1977, described him as "a great alcoholic who, like other alcoholics, didn't want to get drunk." She reportedly remembered telling her pastor, "You aren't reaching him. I'm going to find someone who can, if I have to see everyone in Akron," and she prayed with the pastor of another church that someone her husband could understand would visit him in City Hospital, where he had been admitted with "some kind of virus." I have found no reference to his age when Bill and Bob found him, but Bill keeps referring to him in the literature as "old Bill D." [Bill Dotson was 43 when Bill and Dr. Bob found him, just 3 years older than Bill and 13 years younger than Dr. Bob.] In a memorial to Bill Dotson, Bill Wilson wrote: "The force of the great example that Bill set in our pioneering time will last as long as AA itself. Bill kept the faith -- what more could we say?"
  • Bill's date of sobriety was the date he entered Akron's City Hospital for his last detox, June 26, 1935, where Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob visited him on June 28. His wife, Henrietta, recalled years later that she had asked her pastor to try to help him, and had prayed with another that someone who could help would visit him at the hospital. He was a prominent lawyer, had been a city councilman, and was a well-adjusted family man and active in his church. Nonetheless, he had been hospitalized eight times in the past six months because of his alcoholism and got drunk even before he got home. When admitted this time he had DTs and had blacked the eyes of two nurses before they managed to strap him down. A nurse commented that he was a grand chap "when sober." He walked out of that hospital on July 4, never to drink again. A.A.'s first group dates from that day. Within a week, he was back in court, sober, and arguing a case. The message had been successfully shared a second time. Dr. Bob was no fluke, and apparently you did not have to be indoctrinated by the Oxford Group before the message could take hold. He immediately began working with Dr. Bob and Bill, and went with them to visit Ernie Galbraith ("The Seven Month Slip" in the 1st edition) and others. Old-timers in Akron said he was indeed a grand chap, when sober, one of the most engaging people they ever knew. One said: "I thought I was a real big shot because I took Bill D. to meetings." Another noted that, though Bill Dotson was influential, he was not an ambitious man in A.A., just a good A.A. If you went to him for help he would help you. He never drove a car, but he went to meetings every night, standing around with his thumbs in his vest like a Kentucky colonel. A.A.'s first documented court case was one Phil S., who was released to the care of Dr. Bob through the efforts of Bill Dotson, who talked with the judge who agreed to release him. He never submitted his story for the 1st edition. Various theories include (1) he wanted to be paid for the story, (2) he was too prominent a person, (3) he was too humble to have his story appear. But in 1952 he told an interviewer that he hadn't been much interested in the project or perhaps thought it unnecessary. He added that Bill Wilson had come to Akron to record his story, which would appear in the next edition of the book. Perhaps by 1952 he was embarrassed that he'd originally wanted to be paid for the story so didn't mention it. But apparently he cooperated to have it appear in the 2nd edition. Bill Dotson died September 17, 1954, in Akron. Bill Wilson wrote, "That is, people say he died, but he really didn't. His spirit and works are today alive in the hearts of uncounted A.A'.s, and who can doubt that Bill already dwells in one of those many mansions in the great beyond. The force of the great example that Bill set in our pioneering time will last as long as A.A. itself."
  • Sister Ignatia
  • On August 16, 1935, Sister Ignatia Gavin, a frail but no-nonsense Catholic sister in charge of admissions at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, with the help of Dr. Bob Smith, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, admitted the first alcoholic patient under the diagnosis of acute gastritis, thus making St. Thomas Hospital the first hospital in the world to treat alcoholism as a medical condition. Dr. Bob provided the medical treatment, while a steady stream of "reformed" alcoholics helped the man with his "spiritual" needs. Although the hospital did not want to admit alcoholics, Sister Ignatia had previously circumvented the system. Sister Ignatia's care for alcoholics started back in 1934, when she and emergency room intern, Thomas Scuderi, M.D., began secretly sobering alcoholics at the hospital, housing the alcoholism patient in the hospital's flower room. Sister Ignatia increasingly began to believe that alcoholics should not be sneaked into the hospital but brought through the front door just like other sick people. This belief led to the first medical admission in 1935. Soon, she provided a ward for men to sober up and St. Thomas Hospital became the first religious institution to recognize the rights of alcoholics to receive hospital treatment. Today, many of AA's practices -- including the use of tokens to mark milestones in sobriety -- find their origins with Sister Ignatia. Sister lgnatia was the first person to use medallions in Alcoholics Anonymous. She gave the drunks who were leaving St. Thomas after a five day dry out a Sacred Heart Medallion and instructed them that the acceptance of the medallion signified a commitment to God, to A.A. and to recovery and that if they were going to drink, they had a responsibility to return the medallion to her before drinking. Click to see Sacred Heart Medallion . The custom is carried out to this day with tokens awarded for sobriety. The sacred heart medallions had been used prior to A.A. by the Father Matthew Temperance Movement of the 1840's and the Pioneers, an Irish Temperance Movement of the 1890's. Dr. Bob died in 1950, and in 1952 Sister Ignatia was transferred to Cleveland's St. Vincent Charity Hospital. She recalled: "We're just like people in the Army, you know. We go where we are sent. . . . I was there [in Akron] for 24 years. . . and finally the obedience came that I was to go to Charity and work with AA there." On August 7, 1952, at age 63, the "Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous" arrived in Cleveland for her new assignment. Planning began for an alcoholism wing at the hospital. As part of the ward's setup, Sister Ignatia requested a coffee bar for the patients, similar to the one in Akron. However, a board member who reviewed the plan questioned the need for it. He returned the plan to Sister Ignatia and said, "A table will have to do." But. . . Ignatia would not compromise. She knew what she wanted for the AAs, and she put the future of the ward on the line with her reply: "Let's forget about it if you're not going to give us the proper setup." The coffee bar remained in the drawings. With the help and contributions of the many people Sister Ignatia had helped, Rosary Hall Solarium (its initials in memory of Dr. Bob, Robert Holbrook Smith) accepted its first patient on December 15. It was a kind of recovery mecca where physical medicine, spiritual nourishment, and brotherly love regularly produced miracles of recovery. . . . Sister Ignatia was Rosary Hall's breath and spirit. Through the years, the program successfully treated thousands of alcoholics. Sister Ignatia was among the first to acknowledge alcoholism among priests and nuns. She was also instrumental in implementing the first Al-Anon program, for families of alcoholics. Even as her health declined, Sister Ignatia continued to care for alcoholics at Rosary Hall. Thousands of alcoholics knew first-hand Sister Ignatia's honesty and nonjudgmental love. For more than 30 years, Sister Mary Ignatia Gavin, CSA, founding both Ignatia Hall at St. Thomas in Akron and Rosary Hall Solarium at St. Vincent, was a messenger of hope for alcoholics and their families. Her courageous stand for medical treatment and her caring devotion to the victims of alcoholism helped Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson, founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, and thousands who have come after them. Sister Ignatia never accepted recognition for any of her work with alcoholics. Even in 1961, when she was recognized for her work by President Kennedy, gracious humility prevailed, accepting the awards only in the name of her religious community and profession. Sister Ignatia retired in May 1965. She died less than a year later on April 1, 1966.
  • First site of an Akron AA meeting outside of a home
  • Archie's date of sobriety was November 1938. He came from a good upper middle class family in Grosse Point, Michigan. By the time he was twenty-one he had lived in foreign countries for six years, spoke three languages fluently, and had attended college for two years. Then, family financial difficulties necessitated his going to work. He entered the business world with every confidence that success lay ahead. He had endless dates and went to countless dances, balls and dinner parties. But this was suddenly shattered when he had a devastating nervous breakdown. Doctors could find nothing physically wrong with him. Psychiatry might have helped, but psychiatrists were little known in his town at that time. Recovery from the nervous breakdown came very slowly. He ventured out of the house for a walk, but became frightened by the time he reached the corner. Gradually he was able to do more, and even to work at various jobs. He found that alcohol helped relieve his many fears. His parents both died when he was thirty, leaving him a sheltered and somewhat immature man, on his own. He moved into a "bachelor hall," where the men all drank on Saturday nights and enjoyed themselves. Archie drank with them, but also drank himself to sleep every night. With bravery born of desperation and abetted by alcohol, he married a young and lovely girl. But the marriage lasted only four years, then she took their baby boy and left. He locked himself in the house and stayed drunk for a month. The next two years he had less and less work and more and more whisky. He ended up homeless, jobless, penniless and rudderless, the problem guest of a close friend whose family was out of town. When the family returned his friend turned Archie over to a couple, perhaps Oxford Group members, who knew Dr. Bob, and who were willing to drive him to Akron. The only stipulation they made was that he had to make the decision himself. What choice did he have? Suicide or finding out whether this group of strangers could help him. Dr. Bob put him in the hospital for a few days. He then stayed with Dr. Bob and Anne for ten months. He was in bad shape physically, mentally, and spiritually. At first Dr. Bob thought he was "kind of simple." He was penniless, jobless, and too ill to get out during the day to look for work. Anne nursed him back to health, and while in their home he got down on his knees one day for the first time in thirty years. "God. For eighteen years I have been unable to handle this problem. Please let me turn it over to you." Immediately, a great feeling of peace descended on him, intermingled with a feeling of being suffused with a quiet strength. He did not want to go back to Michigan, preferring to go someplace where he could make a fresh start. But Detroit was where he had to return, not only because he must face the mess he had made there, but also because it was where he could be of the most service to A.A. In the spring of 1939, Bill Wilson stopped off in Akron on his way to Detroit on business. He invited Archie to accompany him to Detroit. They spent two days there together before Bill returned to New York. He made amends where he could, and delivered dry cleaning out of a broken down jalopy to his one-time fashionable friends in Grosse Pointe. With a nonalcoholic friend, Sarah Klein, he started an A.A. group in Detroit. The date of his death is unknown.
  • Frank Amos left for Akron the week after Bill's meeting with the Rockefeller staff (late January or early February 1938). Akron was chosen due to its success in membership numbers and length of sobriety as compared to New York. It would also be the most probable site for the first, if any, of the proposed Alcoholic Hospitals headed by Dr. Bob.   Amos was very thorough with his investigation of the new movement. He checked and re-checked everything, spoke to members of the medical and religious community as well as the alcoholics and their families. He attended the Oxford Group meetings at the home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams and with the help of Dr. Bob and the other alcoholic members, scouted sites for the proposed hospital.   Frank Amos returned to New York sold on the new movement and was very excited. He was as excited as Bill had hoped he would be. In Amos' report to the Rockefellers he proposed that the new society be given the sum of $50,000 (which in today's equivalent would be $500,000). He stated that Mr. Rockefeller would be interested in this venture because it encompassed religion, medicine and reclaimed the lives of alcoholics and strengthened families once thought hopeless. He stressed that this unnamed society had found a solution and brought all the aforementioned aspects into one workable package.   John D. Rockefeller, Jr. read the report with great interest and listened to the glowing praises related to him by Frank Amos. After reviewing all of the aspects presented and the history of the Washington Temperance Society as well as other movements which had preceded this new movement he made a decision.   Out of the $5,000 donated by Rockefeller, $3,000 went immediately to pay off the mortgage on Dr. Bob's house.   Mr. Rockefeller decided to turn down the request for the money requested by Frank Amos. He reiterated, "I am afraid that money will spoil this thing." While giving his reasons for turning down the request for money, it appeared that Rockefeller's reasons were virtually the same as the concerns expressed by Dr. Bob and the Akron members.   Willard Richardson then explained to Mr. Rockefeller the desperate financial predicament that Dr. Bob and Bill were in. He told Rockefeller that in order to continue with this seemingly successful venture, Bill and Bob would need some money; a stipend as it were. Mr. Rockefeller agreed and placed the sum of $5,000 into the treasury of the Riverside Church as part of a special account. Both Bill and Dr. Bob could access this account and funds could be withdrawn as needed. Rockefeller warned them that despite his help, the movement must become "self-supporting" in order to eventually become a success.   Out of the $5,000 donated by Rockefeller, $3,000 went immediately to pay off the mortgage on Dr. Bob's house and the balance was to be paid to Bill and Dr. Bob at a rate of $30 per week. This was done so that the basic necessities of life could be taken care of and that Bill and Dr. Bob could continue working on the restoration of the lives of hopeless alcoholics without too much worry.
  • $5000 - they asked for $50K
  • March 1, 1941
  • 6000 letters came in (mostly from wives)
  • Clarence had his last drink on February 11, 1938, according to the article he wrote for the A.A. Grapevine November 1968 issue. Fifteen months later he organized the first Cleveland group. Clarence was born on December 26, 1902, in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest of three brothers. He dropped out of high school at fourteen, after his father's death, and went to work. He later took many night courses studying economics, business, credits, and collections. This prepared him for later employment at the City National Bank in Cleveland, from which he was fired for alcoholism at the age of thirty-two. It was not the only job from which he had been fired. After holding good positions, making better than average income for over ten years, he was bankrupt in every way. He was in debt, he had no clothes to speak of, no money, no friends, and no one any longer tolerated him except his wife, not even his son or the saloonkeepers. He was unemployable. He said in a talk he gave in 1965 that he couldn't even get a job with the WPA. His wife, Dorothy, who worked for an employment agency, couldn't even get him a job. Then Dorothy heard of a doctor in Akron who had been successful in treating alcoholics. She offered him the alternative of going to see Dr. Bob or her leaving for good. He agreed and that was the turning point in his life. He entered the hospital (after first going on a three-day drunk). While in the hospital a plan for living was explained to him, a simple plan that he found great joy and happiness in following. He became an enthusiastic 12th stepper, literally dragging prospects for A.A. off bar stools. Clarence started the first A.A. group in Cleveland in 1939, in part because some Roman Catholic priests in Cleveland were refusing to let Catholics attend the Oxford Group meeting in Akron. This was the first group to use the name Alcoholics Anonymous. Nell Wing, Bill Wilson's long-time secretary, said that Bill had been using the name since 1938 in letters and a pamphlet, but on this slender basis, Clarence forever claimed to have founded A.A. Dorothy also was very active and did much to help A.A. in Cleveland. They were divorced before Clarence was drafted into the Army in 1942. Dorothy and their son moved to California. Unfortunately, Clarence had an abrasive personality, and as one of his friends said, you either loved him or hated him. According to Nell Wing, had he not been so abrasive he probably would have been considered a co-founder of A.A. When Clarence left Cleveland for military service a farewell party was held for him and he was presented with a wristwatch as a gift from all the West Side groups who acclaimed him for his pioneer work in Cleveland and particularly on the West Side. In a letter from basic training, Private Snyder said the going was rough, and he wished he were fifteen or twenty years younger. He supplied his address at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for anyone who wished to write him, and said he missed the association of the groups and was looking for other A.A. members in Kentucky. He became very hostile toward Bill Wilson. He opposed the traditions and continued to use his full name in public. He led a small group to oppose the Conference and the General Service Office. After the war he married his second wife, Selma, who worked at the Deaconess Hospital, where her father was the director. Clarence often took alcoholics there to sober them up. Clarence and Selma moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Eventually they divorced. Clarence then married his third wife, Grace (also an A.A. member), and joined her as a member of the Assembly of God Church in Winter Park. They did much A.A. work together and conducted many religious retreats. Unlike Bill Wilson, he always used his full name in public, and was honored with several prestigious awards for public service during his life, which he did not hesitate to accept. He remained very active in A.A., and his A.A. work became increasingly Christian fundamentalist in nature. He and Grace lived at 142 S. Lake Triplet Drive in Casselberry, Florida, until his death on March 22, 1984. He was buried in Cameron Cemetery in Cameron, North Carolina, in Grace's family plot.
  • Marty Mann (1904-1980) was the first woman in Alcoholics Anonymous & author of the chapter "Women Suffer Too"in the 2nd and 3rd Editions of the Big Book of AA. In part, because of her life work, the consensus developed that alcoholism was less of a moral issue and more of a health issue (The disease model). She was from an upper middle class family in Chicago . She married and became an alcoholic . In 1939 she saw a psychiatrist, Dr. Harry Tiebout, who shared with her a draft of what would become the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" She had her last drink in 1940 and had continuous sobriety until her death in 1980. She went to her first AA meeting, in the home of Bill & Lois Wilson. At that time there were two AA groups, Akron, OH & New York City . In 1945 Marty developed a vision of eliminating the stigma and ignorance regarding alcoholism. She helped start the Yale School of Alcohol Studies (now at Rutgers ), and then organized the National Council on Alcoholism (now the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence or NCADD). She was an effective and frequent speaker, traveling widely. Three ideas formed the basis of her message, ideas that were new at the time, and now seem almost self evident: "1. Alcoholism is a disease and the alcoholic a sick person. 2. The alcoholic can be helped and is worth helping. 3. This is a public health problem and therefore a public responsibility." (Reference 1) She authored "NEW PRIMER ON ALCOHOLISM" which was reviewed in the Am J Public Health Nations Health. 1959 June; 49(6): 825. by John R. Philp (reference 3) Edward R. Murrow, included Marty as one of the 10 greatest living Americans. In 1980 she suffered a stroke at home and died soon after. She was 75. See also: http://www.aabibliography.com/martymann_sally_brown.htm
  • E.M. Jellinek (1890-1963) may one day be remembered as the most famous American alcohol scientist of the 20th century. His various roles in the emergent new alcohol science of the 1940s and 1950s--including his research and literature-reviewing enterprises at Yale's Center of Alcohol Studies, his organizational and teaching duties at Yale's Summer School of Alcohol Studies, and his editorial work at the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol (QJSA)-- in due course combined to create a considerable hero-myth around the diminutive Dr. Jellinek. Jellinek's 1952 description of the "phases of alcohol addiction" 1 lent scientific credence to an already flourishing disease-concept-of-alcoholism movement. His "Jellinek formula" 2 provided for a time a convenient and much in demand method for calculating the prevalence of alcoholism from annual liver cirrhosis deaths. From his alcohol-related work's commencement in 1939 (at offices in the New York Academy of Medicine) to his death in 1963 (at Stanford University), Jellinek played a crucial role in the ascendancy of modern science's claim to cultural "ownership" 3 of the American alcohol problems social arena. Alcohol science's most prestigious annual prize, the "Jellinek Memorial Award," bears his name and comes with a bronze bust of E.M.J.-- affectionately known within the field as "the Bunky," for his own nickname. Ironically, E.M. Jellinek was also a figure of not inconsiderable ambivalence and misgiving within the core of the alcohol-science community. Inside the Yale center, for example, his handcrafted analysis of the unsystematically collected questionnaires that lay behind his 1952, alcoholism-phases paper was sometimes semi-disparagingly called "Bunky's doodle." Similarly, his famous alcoholism prevalence estimation formula failed to withstand the test of scientific scrutiny--so that Jellinek himself was moved to ask for its withdrawal from service by 1960.
  • 1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity. 2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. 3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking. 4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole. 5. Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. 6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose. 7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. 8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers. 9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve. 10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy. 11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films. 12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. 
  • Recovery – the 12 Steps Unity – the 12 Traditions Service – the 12 Concepts
  • http://www.steppingstones.org/
  • A further expression of the Fifth Tradition: "I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible."
  • Ebby, however, took a different path, one that caused him to have a series of relapses. The man whom Bill Wilson called his sponsor could not stay sober himself, and became an embarrassment. There were periods of sobriety, some long, some short, but eventually Ebby would, ³fall off the wagon,² as he called it. Ebby¹s full name was Edwin Throckmorton Thacher and he can be said to have arrived in the world with ³a silver spoon in his mouth.² It is possible that because of his upper-class origins, with servants waiting on him and the respect brought by his family name, Ebby developed the attitude that life should always be easy for him. He was Œentitled¹, it seems. Lois Wilson shared her insights into Ebby in her biography: ³Beyond that crucial visit with Bill, Ebby seemed to do very little about helping others. He never appeared really a member of AA. After his first slip, many harmful thoughts seemed to take possession of him. He appeared jealous of Bill and critical, even when sober, of both the Oxford Group and AA.² Lois felt that it was important that AA¹s know why Ebby was not considered the founder of AA. Ebby carried the message to Bill, but he never followed it up with the years of devoted action needed to develop the AA program. Despite his failure to follow through after his vital visit with Bill, Ebby still seemed to feel he was not recognized adequately for his contribution to the start of AA. His employer for many years in Texas said that Ebby, ³kind of thought the world owed him a living, to a certain extent. He thought he never got the recognition that he should. That was stuck in his craw for years.² Ebby also had the idea that he needed the right woman and an ideal job in order to stay sober. The implication is that if he didn¹t have the perfect woman and the perfect job, he couldn¹t stay sober. And he didn¹t stay sober. AA members know that sobriety has to be sought without any conditions, that we have to be ³willing to go to any length to get it² and that ³half measures availed us nothing.² Ebby drifted in and out of sobriety, and in and out of AA, with many AA members trying to help him regain a more stable sobriety. The person who was ultimately successful was Searcy W., who had established a hospital for alcoholics in Texas. Early in 1953, Searcy had asked Bill what he would like to see happen in AA, and Bill said, ³I would like for Ebby to have a chance to sober up in your clinic.² Several months later, it came to pass, and after a short slip in 1954, Ebby remained sober for seven years. In 1961, Ebby¹s girlfriend died and the next day Ebby got drunk. He apparently still believed that his sobriety was conditional on having the right woman, and now she was gone. Ebby moved back to New York and lived at several places for the next two years, one of which was at his brother Ken¹s home in Delmar, a suburb of Albany. He had emphysema, the same disease that caused Bill¹s death, and was in poor health, his weight having dropped from 170 to 122 pounds. Ebby eventually came to Margaret and Micky McPike¹s farm outside Ballston Spa, New York, in May, 1964 and it was under their loving care that he finished the final two years of his life, dying sober on March 21, 1966. Ebby was unable, for whatever reasons, to put the AA program of action into his life on a regular basis.
  • The photo on the left is their last picture together.
  • The physician wasn't hooked, he thought - he just prescribed drugs medically indicated for his many ailments. Acceptance was his key to liberation. Paul's story is one of the most frequently quoted in the 3rd edition because it talks so much about acceptance (pages 449-450). His original date of sobriety was December 1966, but he slipped until July 1967. He didn't think he was an alcoholic, he just had problems. "If you had my problems you'd drink too." His major problem was his wife. "If you had my wife you'd drink, too." He and his wife, Max, had been married twenty-eight years when he entered A.A. He said she was a natural Al-Anon long before they heard of either A.A. or Al-Anon. His story in the Big Book, and tapes of his talks, show that Paul had a great sense of humor, and was a very humble man. Paul had begun to drink when in pharmacy school to help him sleep. He went through pharmacy school, graduate school, medical school, internship, residency and specialty training and, finally went into practice. All the time his drinking kept increasing. Soon he began taking drugs to pep him up and tranquilizers to level off.  On occasion he tried to stop completely, but had convulsions from withdrawal. When he went to Mayo Clinic he was put in the locked ward. Another hospitalization was in the psychiatric ward of a hospital, on which he was on the staff. But there he was introduced to A.A.  It took him awhile to get off the alcohol and pills, but when he wrote his story he said: "Today, I find I can't work my A.A. program while taking pills, nor may I even have them around for dire emergencies only. I can't say 'Thy will be done,' and take a pill. I can't say, 'I'm powerless over alcohol, but solid alcohol is okay.' I can't say 'God could restore me to sanity but until He does, I'll control myself -- with pills.'"  He started Pills Anonymous and Chemical Dependency Anonymous, but did not attend them because he got all he needed from A.A. He did not introduce himself as an alcoholic and addict, and was irritated by people who want to broaden A.A. to include other addictions He wrote an article for the Grapevine on why doctors shouldn't prescribe pills for alcoholics, and because he had a dual problem was asked to write his story for the Big Book. It was originally published in the A.A. Grapevine with the title "Bronzed Moccasins" and an illustration of a pair of bronze moccasins. It was eventually renamed and included in the Big Book. His book, "There's More to Quitting Drinking than Quitting Drinking," was published in 1995 by Sabrina Publishing, Laguna Niguel, CA. Paul complained in an interview with A.A. Grapevine that the story might have "overshot the mark." One of the most uncomfortable things for him was people run up to him at a meeting and tell him how glad they are the story is in the book. "They say they were fighting with their home group because their home group won't let them talk about drugs. So they show their group the story and they say, 'By God, now you'll have to let me talk about drugs.' And I really hate to see the story as a divisive thing. I don't think we came to A.A. to fight each other." But he denied that there is anything in the story he would want to change. The story "makes clear the truth that an alcoholic can also be an addict, and indeed that an alcoholic has a constitutional right to have as many problems as he wants! But that doesn't mean that every A.A. meeting has to be open to a discussion of drugs if it doesn't want to. Every meeting has the right to say it doesn't want drugs discussed. People who want to discuss drugs have other places where they can go to talk about that." How did he work his program? "Pretty much every morning, before I get out of bed, I say the Serenity Prayer, the Third Step Prayer, and the Seventh Step Prayer. Then Max and I repeat those prayers along with other prayers and meditations at breakfast." He had a special meeting format for early morning meetings. He called them Attitude Adjustment Meetings. They consisted largely of readings from the Big Book, prayers from the Big Book and 12 & 12, and a short session of positive pitches. The meetings were at 6:30 am or 7:00 am each day. Paul died on May 19, 2000. Max, died on July 1, 2001.
  • Tell the story of the International Convention in Minneapolis.
  • A History Of Alcoholics Anonymous - April 2011

    1. 1. Alcoholics Anonymous
    2. 2. A Few Quick Resources Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions Pass It On A.A. Comes of Age Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers (AA World Services, New York) Not-God – A History of Alcoholics Anonymous by Ernest Kurtz (Hazelden) Slaying the Dragon – The History of Treatment and Recovery in America by William White (Chestnut Health Systems)
    3. 3. What was it like before AA?
    4. 4. Shock Treatment
    5. 5. Skid Row Missions
    6. 6. The Washingtonians
    7. 7. Rowland Hazard
    8. 8. Dr. Carl Jung
    9. 9. The Oxford Group
    10. 10. Frank Buchman
    11. 11. Ebby Thacher
    12. 12. William James Father of American Psychiatry
    13. 13. Varieties of Religious Experience Ebby brought this book to Bill in Towns Hospital
    14. 14. Bill Wilson
    15. 16. Bill & Lois Wilson
    16. 17. Towns Hospital • New York Bill was treated here 4 times
    17. 18. Dr. William Silkworth
    18. 19. Dr. Harry Tiebout Bill’s psychiatrist
    19. 20. Reverend Sam Shoemaker Head of the American Oxford Groups
    20. 21. Father Ed Dowling, S.J. Bill Wilson’s Spiritual Advisor
    21. 22. 182 Clinton Street The Wilson Home
    22. 23. Bill “carried the message”
    23. 24. Akron, Ohio
    24. 25. Mayflower Hotel
    25. 26. Reverend Walter Tunks
    26. 27. Henrietta Seiberling
    27. 28. The Seiberling Gatehouse
    28. 29. Bill meets Doctor Bob
    29. 33. Robert Holbrook Smith, MD
    30. 35. Dr. Bob & Anne Smith
    31. 36. 855 Ardmore Akron, Ohio
    32. 37. Akron City Hospital
    33. 38. Dr. Bob’s Prescription
    34. 39. Bill D. • “The man on the bed”
    35. 40. Bill & Henrietta Dotson
    36. 42. St. Thomas Hospital
    37. 43. Sister Ignatia
    38. 44. King School Akron, Ohio
    39. 45. Archie Trowbridge
    40. 46. One drunk to another
    41. 48. John D. Rockefeller "I am afraid that money will spoil this thing."
    42. 50. The Big Book April 10, 1939
    43. 51. AA Preamble <ul><li>&quot;ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS is a fellowship of men and women </li></ul><ul><li>who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that </li></ul><ul><li>they may solve their common problem and help others to recover </li></ul><ul><li>from alcoholism. </li></ul><ul><li>The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. </li></ul><ul><li>There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self- </li></ul><ul><li>supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any </li></ul><ul><li>sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not </li></ul><ul><li>wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes </li></ul><ul><li>any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other </li></ul><ul><li>alcoholics to achieve sobriety.&quot; </li></ul>
    44. 53. Original Big Book
    45. 54. Big Book 4th Edition
    46. 55. Step One <ul><li>We admitted we were powerless </li></ul><ul><li>over alcohol, that our lives had </li></ul><ul><li>become unmanageable. </li></ul>
    47. 56. Step Two <ul><li>Came to believe that a Power </li></ul><ul><li>greater than ourselves could </li></ul><ul><li>restore us to sanity. </li></ul>
    48. 57. Step Three <ul><li>Made a decision to turn our will </li></ul><ul><li>and our lives over to the care of </li></ul><ul><li>God as we understood Him </li></ul>
    49. 58. Step Four <ul><li>Made a searching and fearless </li></ul><ul><li>moral inventory of ourselves. </li></ul>
    50. 59. Step Five <ul><li>Admitted to God, to ourselves, </li></ul><ul><li>and to another human being the </li></ul><ul><li>exact nature of our wrongs. </li></ul>
    51. 60. Step Six <ul><li>Were entirely ready to have God </li></ul><ul><li>remove all these defects of </li></ul><ul><li>character. </li></ul>
    52. 61. Step Seven <ul><li>Humbly asked Him to remove </li></ul><ul><li>our shortcomings. </li></ul>
    53. 62. Step Eight <ul><li>Made a list of all persons we had </li></ul><ul><li>harmed, and became willing to </li></ul><ul><li>make amends to them all. </li></ul>
    54. 63. Step Nine <ul><li>Made direct amends whenever </li></ul><ul><li>possible, except when to do so </li></ul><ul><li>would injure them or others. </li></ul>
    55. 64. Step Ten <ul><li>Continued to take personal </li></ul><ul><li>inventory and when we were </li></ul><ul><li>wrong promptly admitted it. </li></ul>
    56. 65. Step Eleven <ul><li>Sought through prayer and </li></ul><ul><li>meditation to improve our </li></ul><ul><li>conscious contact with God as </li></ul><ul><li>we understood Him, praying only </li></ul><ul><li>for knowledge of His will for us </li></ul><ul><li>and the power to carry that out. </li></ul>
    57. 66. Step Twelve <ul><li>Having had a spiritual awakening </li></ul><ul><li>as a result of these steps, we </li></ul><ul><li>tried to carry this message to </li></ul><ul><li>alcoholics, and to practice these </li></ul><ul><li>principles in all our affairs. </li></ul>
    58. 67. AA group in 1940’s
    59. 68. Jack Alexander
    60. 70. Clarence Snyder “The Home Brewmeister”
    61. 71. Marty Mann
    62. 72. Dr. E.M. “Bunky” Jellenik
    63. 73. AA group in 1950’s
    64. 74. 1950 International Convention Cleveland The Twelve Traditions
    65. 75. The Twelve Traditions <ul><li>1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity. </li></ul><ul><li>2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express </li></ul><ul><li>Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. </li></ul><ul><li>3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking. </li></ul><ul><li>4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. </li></ul><ul><li>6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside </li></ul><ul><li>enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose. </li></ul><ul><li>7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. </li></ul><ul><li>8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ </li></ul><ul><li>special workers. </li></ul><ul><li>9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly </li></ul><ul><li>responsible to those they serve. </li></ul><ul><li>10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn </li></ul><ul><li>into public controversy. </li></ul><ul><li>11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain </li></ul><ul><li>personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films. </li></ul><ul><li>12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before </li></ul><ul><li>personalities.  </li></ul>
    66. 76. 1955 International Convention St. Louis The Three Legacies
    67. 77. 1960 International Convention Long Beach
    68. 78. Bill’s Desk at Stepping Stones
    69. 79. Bill & Lois in the 1960’s
    70. 80. 1965 International Convention Toronto “I am responsible”
    71. 81. Responsibility Declaration <ul><li>“ I am responsible. When anyone, </li></ul><ul><li>anywhere, reaches out for help, </li></ul><ul><li>I want the hand of A.A. always to </li></ul><ul><li>be there. And for that: </li></ul><ul><li>I am responsible.” </li></ul>
    72. 82. Bill Wilson • 1966
    73. 83. 1966 • Ebby Thacher dies
    74. 84. 1970 International Convention Miami Beach
    75. 87. 1971 • Bill Wilson dies
    76. 89. 1975 International Convention Denver
    77. 90. Paul O. “Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict”
    78. 91. 1980 International Convention New Orleans
    79. 92. Lois Wilson 1891 - 1988
    80. 93. 1985 International Convention Montreal
    81. 94. 2000 International Convention Minneapolis
    82. 95. 2005 International Convention Toronto