Some Documents and Historical Information about A.A.


  1. The Oxford Group

  2. The Original Six Steps

  3. The Six Steps in A.A. Literature

  4. The Texas Preamble

  5. "Conference-Approved Literature - What it means to you" - a publication of the A.A. General Service Office

  6. The Man on the Bed (the painting "Came to Believe", and the story of AA member #3, Bill Dotson)

  7. An 1878 View of the Washingtonians

  8. We Love Our Nuggets

  9. William Duncan Silkworth, MD

  10. The Susan Cheever interview (author of "My Name is Bill")

  11. Clarence Snyder's interpretation of The 12 Steps - Clarence was a founder of the Cleveland Group, the first group to call itself an A.A. group for alcoholics only.

  12. Bill Wilson's talk at Guest House (a treatment center for alcoholic priests)

  13. The First Roman Catholics in Alcoholics Anonymous, by Glenn F. Chesnut

  14. Bill Wilson regarding "the hippy problem"

  15. Drugs and the Spiritual: Bill W. Takes LSD, by Ernest Kurtz (author of "Not-God" and "The Spirituality of Imperfection")

  16. Interview with Searcy W. - Searcy W. (Whaley) passed away in Dallas, Texas in September 2003 with 53+ years of sobriety. He was Ebby Thacher's "Texas Sponsor" during the eight years Ebby lived here.

  17. Sister Mary Ignatia - Sister Mary ran the alcoholic ward at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, which was the first religious institution to open it's doors to AA - but only if it were completely non-denominational.

  18. Recollections from Ruth Hock - Ruth Hock was AA's first national secretary. Hired by Bill and Hank P (Parkhurst) in January 1936, she typed the entire Big Book manuscript from Bill Wilson's dictation.

  19. "Three Talks to Medical Societies" - Presentations Bill Wilson made to the AMA and American Psychiatric Association - 1944, 1949 and 1955.

  20. The Earliest Printings of Richmond Walker's "Twenty-Four Hours a Day", by Glenn C. (Southbend, Indiana)

  21. My Drug Experiences - Author unknown

  22. The Liberty Magazine Article, September 1939
    A.A.'s first successful national publicity, the Liberty Magazine article produced over 800 pleas for help. Bill wrote to Dr. Bob, "We are growing at an alarming rate, although I have no further fear of large numbers."

  23. The Elrick B. Davis Articles from The Cleveland Plain Dealer
    October - November 1939
    These articles appeared in the main Cleveland newspaper, the Plain Dealer, just five months after the first A.A. group was formed in Cleveland. The articles resulted in hundreds of calls for help from suffering alcoholics who reached out for the hope that the fledgling Alcoholics Anonymous offered.
        Article 1 - October 21, 1939
        Article 2 - October 23, 1939
        Article 3 - October 24, 1939
        Article 4 - October 25, 1939
        Article 5 - October 26, 1939
        Article 6 - November 2, 1939

  24. The Jack Alexander article - Saturday Evening Post, March 1941
    The New York office received over 6,000 pleas for help from alcoholics and their families all over the world, and A.A. was established as an American institution.
        How It All Came About - an Introduction
        The Jack Alexander Article

  25. Origins of the Serenity Prayer
    For many years, long after the Serenity Prayer became attached to the very fabric of the Fellowship's life and thought, its exact origin and its actual author, have played a tantalizing game of hide and seek with researchers, both in and out of A.A. The facts of how it came to be used by A.A. a half century ago are much easier to pinpoint.

  26. Bill declines an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Yale University, 1954

  27. Alcoholics Anonymous and the Disease Concept of Alcoholism, Ernest Kurtz, Ph.D

  28. Suggestions for Leading Beginner's Meetings, from AA General Service Office

  29. Frank Buchman - Founder of the Oxford Group

  30. Bill Wilson on the Oxford Group

  31. Big Book History and MythsArthur S., Arlington, TX, July 2010

  32. Big Book Changes - These are the changes that have been made in the program portion of the Big Book (the first 164 pages and the roman numeral pages) since it was first published on April 10, 1939.

  33. A Narrative Timeline of AA History - Arthur S., Arlington, TX

  34. The Sermon on the Mount - Emmett Fox, 1938


Ernest Kurtz, Ph.D

"Addiction is this belief that something outside of me can fix something that's wrong within me. I can find a new medicine, I can find a new woman, I can find a new car, I can find a new boat, I can find a new job, I can find a new.... No. The emptiness is still there; the emptiness is still there."


Ernest Kurtz has been the outstanding thinker of the A.A. tradition's second generation, the one who played a constant leadership role in pushing the movement towards the highest professional standards of history writing and supplied some of its most influential interpretive concepts. His ideas are vitally important for anyone who wishes to understand A.A. history during the period following Bill Wilson's death in 1971.

As a Ph.D. student at Harvard University in the 1970's, he was the first researcher to be granted full access to the archives of Alcoholics Anonymous. The book that resulted, "Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous" (his doctoral dissertation - published in 1979), is the most scholarly work available on early A.A. history.

Ernest Kurtz, The Collected Ernie Kurtz, June 2008

  1. Research on Alcoholics Anonymous: The Historical Context

  2. Alcoholics Anonymous: A Phenomenon in American Religious History

  3. Drugs and the Spiritual: Bill W. Takes LSD

  4. "Spiritual Rather Than Religious": The Contribution of Alcoholics Anonymous

  5. The Spirituality of William James: A Lesson from Alcoholics Anonymous

  6. Shame in the Nineties

  7. Commentary on "Lay Treatment"

  8. Models of Alcoholism Used in Treatment: Contrasting A.A. and Other Models with Which it is Often Confused

  9. Spirituality and Recovery: the Historical Journey

  10. Whatever Happened to Twelve-Step Programs?

  11. Why A.A. Works: The Intellectual Significance of Alcoholics Anonymous

  12. Here's to Spuds MacKenzie!


Shame & Guilt
©Copyright 2007 by Ernest Kurtz. Second edition, revised and updated. Originally published as Shame and Guilt: Characteristics of the Dependency Cycle (A Historical Perspective for Professionals). Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden; 1981.



  1. Bill Wilson reads "How it Works", recorded in 1963

  2. "Time Out of Mind" - Bill tells a story illustrating the obsession of drinking. From the "Bill W." documentary, 2012.

  3. Bill on The 12 Traditions - part 1

  4. Bill on The 12 Traditions - part 2

  5. Dr. Bob and Bill W. - Central Atlantic Regional Assembly - Washington, DC, January 31, 1948

  6. Some AA photos - A collection of photos gathered from around the web (5 Mb zip file)


Some good AA Websites

  1. "AA History Lovers" Yahoo discussion group – 2500+ members, including GSO archivists, authors of conference-approved books, and academic historians (alcoholics and non-alcoholics are welcome)

  2. – A great website on A.A. history
  3. An awesome page of resources on
  4. The Hindsfoot Foundation – A non-profit organization devoted to the history of treating alcoholism

  5. The West Baltimore Group – a whole lot of AA love in this website

  6. Official AA website


Preston Group