HOW DID AA BEGIN? (2 pages)
how did aa begin
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.
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
HOW DID AA BEGIN?