HOW DID AA BEGIN? (2 pages)

how did aa begin

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September 1948


HEN and where and how did

Alcoholics Anonymous be-
gin? When and how was the

Alcoholics Foundation begun? These
And many other questions are asked
daily by members of A.A.

To date no complete and accurate

history of the movement has been

written. In the early days the pio-

neer members kept no written ac-

count of their activities so that any-
thing written now is based almost

entirely upon the memories of these


In the earliest beginning the story

of Alcoholics Anonymous is the

story of two men, Bill W. of New

York and Dr. Bob of Akron, Ohio.

This story of their personal strug-
gles for sobriety is known to most.

After a long and disastrous alco-

holic history, both Bill W. and Dr.

Bob were introduced to the Oxford

Dr. Bob became interested in 1933

upon his release from a sanitarium.

Prior to his meeting with Bill in

1935 he made every attempt to ob-

tain sobriety but seemed unsuccess-

ful in spite of his efforts.

Bill's first contact with the Oxford

Group came during the winter of

1934 when a childhood friend, also

an alcoholic, came to his home—


This friend impressed upon Bill

the thought that he could remain so-
ber only if he helped someone else.
This Bill tried but after six discour-

aging months he had not dried up

one drunk—except himself!

With his new sobriety came a

business venture which brought him

to Akron, Ohio. The business ven-

ture failed and he was again faced
with the comforting thought that he

could be a success, for a brief time,

with a bottle of gin. It was at this

low point that he prayed—and
promptly set out to find another al-


He contacted an Akron minister

who gave him a list of members of

the Oxford Group and by sheer ac-
cident he called a family who knew

an alcoholic who was in need of
help. A meeting for the two was
arranged for the next day. So it was

that on Mother's Day, 1935 Bill W.

met Dr.


The message Bill brought was a

simple one. "Faith without works is

dead. Show me your faith, by my

works I will show you mine." With

the exception of one short binge Dr.

Bob has never had another drink.

In order to maintain his own so-

briety, Dr. Bob, had to find some-
one to help. With Bill W. he went

to an Akron hospital and found Bill
D. who has never had another drink
since that time.

By the Summer of 1936 a group of

five men were holding morning meet-

ings in the kitchen of one of the


Bill had remained in Akron until

October, 1935 when be returned to

New York and began working night

and day to help other alcoholics

In the early beginnings these re-

covered alcoholics were in close as-
sociation with the Oxford Group but

by 1937 all relations between them

had ended. This was the beginning

of the new and independent group

working only for the recovery of al-

coholics, which was to become Alco-
holics Anonymous as we now know


In December 1937 Bill W. ar-

ranged an appointment with Mr. W.

S. Richardson. He told his story to

Mr. Richardson and was evidently so

sincere and convincing that Mr.

Richardson called on three of his

friends for consultation. A dinner
meeting was arranged and Bill again
told the story to the three friends,
Mr. Albert Scott, Mr. A. Leroy Chip-
man and Mr. Frank B. Amos.

Present at this meeting were two

other non-alcoholics, Dr. W. D. Silk-
worth and Dr. L. V. Strong and six
alcoholics from the New York area

and Akron, Ohio.

Following this meeting plans for

the beginning of the movement

were very cautiously and carefully
weighed. Emphasis was placed on

the desires of the founders to keep

this movement entirely apart from

any religious organization or cult.

Stress was laid on the fact that the
movement which was to become Al-
coholics Anonymous had no connec-
tion whatever with any religious de-

nomination, the Oxford Group or

any other group or movement of this


It was thought that perhaps a hos-

pital or rest home near Akron would
be advisable and it was with this
thought in mind that Mr. Amos was
asked to visit Akron and make a

careful survey of the situation there.

The result of this survey by Mr.

Amos caused him to report that the
work being done in Akron was short

of miraculous and that continued
and deserved financial support

should be given. As a result of this

a contribution was received which
would keep the work going in Akron

until May 1, 1939.

This contribution only took care

of the minimum needs of the Akron
work and it daily became clear that

the situation in Metropolitan New

York also required support.

Such financial help as had been

given thus far had been from the

meager funds of other alcoholics.

Plans were made during the Spring

of 1938 to start a campaign among

people who it was believed would be

interested in this movement. It was


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