WHY STUDY AA HISTORY?


What difference would it make?  How could it affect how we live and work our own individual recovery? 


In a quote attributed to the poet Carl Sandburg, he summed it up when he wrote; "Whenever a civilization or society declines (or perishes) there is always one condition present - they forgot where they came from". This quote gives a warning to present and future generations of AA members to "Keep It Green."


Other movements who had been successful at the time forgot where they came from. They watered-down and made changes to their respective movements which eventually led to their demise. The history of AA can be both educational and fascinating and help in making the recovery process a fruitful one.


(Alcoholics Anonymous Archivist Mitchell K)


FOUNDERS DAY HISTORY


During the early 1930’s in America a series of significant events unfolded which culminated in the founding of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Roland H, a hopeless alcoholic from a wealthy family had just returned from Switzerland after his second treatment with the celebrated psychiatrist Dr Carl Jung. Carrying out Jung’s advice to “Seek out a spiritual awakening” Roland allied himself with the Oxford Group which was founded by Dr Frank Buchman.


Impressed by their simplistic spiritual teachings he found the sobriety he had long searched for. Hearing the plight of a fellow sufferer Ebby T, Roland and two other men, Shep C and Cebra G, intervened in a court hearing and convinced the judge to parole Ebby into their custody.  Roland was able to pass on the Oxford Group message to Ebby who started to work at the Calvary Mission on 23rd Street New York.


While there Ebby heard of the desperate situation of an old school mate Bill W.  He visited Bill.


As Bill remembered it “He told me how he had got honest about himself and his defects, and how he had been making restitution where owed, how he had practiced a brand of giving that demanded no return for himself.
Then very dangerously he touched on the subject of prayer and God.
I was shocked, but interested; I had to be for I was hopeless.”


 Reprinted from (Pass it On Pg.115) with permission of AA World Services, Inc.


Bill continued to drink and arrived at Towns Hospital in New York for the fourth time on December 11 1934 where he was separated from alcohol for the last time. After preaching to alcoholics for several months with no success, Bill took the advice of Dr Silkworth to change his approach by telling his prospects about their illness that condemned them to go mad or die if they continued to drink.


Bill soon had an opportunity to test his method when he found himself in Akron Ohio involved in a proxy fight for control of a small machine tool company.


Through a series of phone calls at the Mayflower Hotel Bill spoke to Henrietta Seiberling who arranged for him to meet a local doctor who had admitted having a drinking problem to the local Oxford Group movement.


On Mother’s Day 1935 Bill arrived at the gatehouse of the Sieberling Estate to meet Dr Robert S.  Bill said “Bob did not look much like a founder.  He was shaking badly.  Uneasily he told us he could stay only about 15 minutes.” 

Reprinted from (Dr Bob and the Good Oldtimers Pg.67) with permission of AA World Services, Inc.


They talked for six hours.


Bob later commented “He was the first living human whom I had ever talked who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience, in other words he spoke my language”.


  Reprinted from [Alcoholics Anonymous Pg.180) with permission of AA World Services, Inc. 


Dr Bob had been sober about two weeks when he attended the American Medical Association Convention in Atlantic City. He started drinking as soon as he boarded the train and stayed drunk until his return to Akron where he was picked up at the railway station by his nurse.


Dr Bob had three days to sober up before he was to perform an important operation.   The morning of the operation Dr Bob was in bad shape.  At 4 am he said “Bill, I am going through with it…Bill said “You mean the operation?” Bob replied “I have placed the operation and myself in God’s hands, I am going to do whatever it takes to get sober and stay that way”. 


Reprinted from (Dr BOB and The Good Oldtimers Pg.74) with permission of AA World Services, Inc.


In the car park of the hospital Bill gave Dr Bob one goof-ball [ a barbiturate or tranquilizer] and one bottle of beer to relieve the shakes. Bob was able to perform the operation successfully and then he disappeared.


“Finally Dr Bob came home; he had just spent the hours after the operation making restitution to friends and acquaintances in Akron.”


“The bottle of beer that Bill gave him that morning was the last drink he ever had. It is generally agreed that AA began right there on June 10th 1935.”


Reprinted from (Dr BOB and the Good Oldtimers Pg.75) with permission AA World Services, Inc.  


This is known in the Fellowship as Founders Day.


At a local level, Founders Day is an opportunity to celebrate the founding of our fellowship  and share our gratitude for the legacy that has been handed down to us.


It has been said that a careful look at the past gives a clearer picture of today and enhances our vision of tomorrow. Most AA groups celebrate a birthday and Founders Day is like a big worldwide birthday meeting.


So let’s wish each other a Happy Birthday and make a new commitment to Recovery, Unity and Service through gratitude to the pioneers of AA.


We are grateful to those who carried the message before us and carved a path so we can continue their work today.

We hope you enjoy this year’s celebrations through the Grace of God One Day at a Time.


​Please follow the link below to Dr Bob's Home in Akron, Ohio, USA.