This timeline is a an expansion of a chronology done
by Archie M.
of AAHistoryLovers Special Interest Group
Formatted by Arthur S.
1865 Bill’s grandparents, William C. Wilson and Helen Barrows, were married. (RAA 136)
1870 Bill’s parents, Gilman Barrows Wilson and Emily Griffith, were born. (BW-RT 12)
1878 June 4, Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman born in Pennsburg, PA. (RAA 114, NW 32)
The international movement he founded has been variously called the First Century Christian Fellowship, the Oxford Group, Moral Re-Armament (MRA), and Buchmanism. (PIO 130)
1879 Aug. 8, Robert Holbrook Smith was born in St. Johnsbury, VT to Judge & Mrs. Walter Perrin Smith. (DBGO 9, CH 2, NG 29-30)
1881 Oct. 29, Rowland Hazard was born in RI. (www)
1885 Sept. (?), Dr. Bob began Summer St. Elementary School in St. Johnsbury, VT. (DBGO 12)
1887 July 22, William D. Silkworth was born in Brooklyn, NY. (CBC)
1888 Summer, Dr. Bob, turning 9, had his first drink from a jug of hard cider. (DBGO 13)
Lois Wilson’s parents, Dr Clark Burnham and Matilda Hoyt Spellman, were married. (LR 2)
1889 Jan. 2, Bridget Della Mary Gavin (Sister Ignatia) was born in Shanvilly, County Mayo, Ireland. (SI 44, 306)
1890 Aug. 15, E. M. Jellinek was born. (CBC)
1891 Mar. 4, Lois Burnham was born at 182 Clinton St. in the Brooklyn Heights section of NY. (BW-FH 9-13)
1893 Dec. 27, Samuel Moor Shoemaker was born in Baltimore, MD. (www, CBC)
1894 Sept. (?), Dr. Bob, at age 15, entered St. Johnsbury Academy. (DBGO 15)
Sept., Bill’s parents, Emily Griffith and Gilman Wilson, were married (PIO 13, BW-RT 15, RAA 137)
Dec., Bill’s uncle, Clarence Griffith, died of tuberculosis in CO. (BW-RT 31, BW-40 25, PIO 28)
1895 Nov. 26, Bill Wilson was born in East Dorset, VT in a room behind a bar in the Wilson House (formerly the Barrows House) a village hotel run by Bill’s grandmother. (BW-RT 15, CH 4, NG 10, PIO 13+407, RAA 138).
1896 Apr. 29, Edwin “Ebby” Throckmorton Thatcher was born in Albany, NY. (EBBY 20).
1898 Dr. Bob first met Anne Robinson Ripley during his senior year at St. Johnsbury Academy. (DBGO 16)
Dr. Bob graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy and entered Dartmouth College. (CH 2, DBGO 348)
Dorothy Brewster Wilson, Bill’s sister, was born. (PIO 15)
1902 William James’ Univ. of Edinburgh lectures were published as The Varieties of Religious Experience.
Dr. Bob graduated from Dartmouth College. During his Dartmouth school years, drinking became a major activity for him. (CH 2, DBGO 348, NG 30, RAA 172, GSO)
Bill’s mother, Emily, spent much of the year in FL with Bill’s sister Dorothy. Bill writes several letters asking when she will be returning home. (BW-FH 18)
1903 Bill’s family moved to 42 Chestnut Ave. in Rutland, VT. Bill attended the Church St. School. (PIO 20)
1904 Emily and Gilman Wilson’s marriage was a stormy one and others noticed that something was wrong with it. (BW-FH 12, BW-RT 17)
Oct. 15, Marty Mann was born in Chicago, IL. (CBC)
1905 July, Frank Buchman attended an evangelical convention in Keswick, England and experienced a spiritual awakening. This set the groundwork, over the next few years, for his founding of the First Century Christian Fellowship. (NW 32-34, PIO 130)
Sept., Bill’s father, Gilman, (after earlier having a bitter argument with Emily) takes Bill on a late-night buggy ride. He asks Bill to take good care of his mother and sister and be good to them. The next morning Bill’s sister Dorothy told him that their father had gone away. Prior to this there were extended absences of Bill’s mother, Emily, described sometimes as “nervous breakdowns.” (BW-RT 5-12, NG 10, BW-FH 12, 18-19, PIO 24)
Sept., Bill’s father leaves the family and departs for western Canada. Bill did not see him again for 9 years (summer of 1914). Emily sent word to her father, Fayette, to drive up to Rutland and get Bill and Dorothy. Emily remained behind in Rutland for a time to make arrangements. (BW-RT 11+17-18, BW-40 12-13, BW-FH 12)
Fall, Dr. Bob entered the Univ. of Michigan as a 26 year old pre-med student. He took up the business of drinking with a much greater earnestness than he had previously shown. (AABB 173, CH 2, DBGO 25, NG 30)
1906 Bill, his sister Dorothy and mother Emily, moved back to East Dorset to live with Bill’s maternal grandparents, Fayette and Ella Griffith. (BW-RT 11+17, PIO 22, BW-RT 19, NG 10, RAA 130, BW-40 13, BW-FH 12)
Oct., while on a picnic, Bill and Dorothy are informed by their mother that their father had gone for good. The news was devastating to Bill. Emily left the next day for Boston, MA to attend an osteopathic medical school. (PIO 24-27, BW-RT 19-20, BW-40 13, BW-FH 19)
1907 Bill’s parents divorced.
Spring, Dr. Bob left the Univ. of Michigan to take a 1-month “geographic cure” on a large farm owned by a friend. (AABB 173, DBGO 26)
Fall, Dr. Bob was forced to leave the Univ. of Michigan because of his drinking. He transferred, as a junior, to Rush Univ. near Chicago. While at Rush Univ. his drinking became so bad his fraternity brothers called for his father. (AABB 173-174, CH 2, DBGO 26, NG 30, PIO 25)
Late summer, Bill's grandfather, Fayette, challenged Bill saying "nobody but an Australian bushman knows how to make and throw a boomerang.” (AACOA 53, PIO 29-30, LR 19-20, BW-RT 28-29, BW-40 21-23, NG 11)
1908 July, Frank Buchman arrived in England to attend the Keswick Convention of evangelicals. After hearing a sermon by a woman evangelist, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Buchman experienced a profound surrender. He helped another attendee to go through the same experience. His experiences became the key to the rest of Buchman’s life and work. Returning to the U.S., he started what he called his “laboratory years” working out the principles he was to apply on a global scale. (NG 9, RAA 141, NW 32-45)
Feb., Bill, about age 11 or 12, made the boomerang and perceived himself as a “Number One Man.” (BW-RT 33-35) After Bill made the boomerang, his grandfather, Fayette, gave him his Uncle Clarence’s violin and challenged him to learn how to play it. (AACOA 53, BW-RT 36-37, LR 20, BW40 25-28)
Spring/early summer, Bill met his closest friend, Mark Whalon who was 10 years his senior. (BW-RT 40, RAA 141, BW-FH 12)
1909 Late spring, Bill’s grandparents decided to send him (at age 14) to the prestigious Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester, VT for his secondary education. Bill started classes that fall and boarded at the school for 5 days a week and returned home, by train, to East Dorset, on weekends. (PIO 33, NG 12, BW-FH 19, BW-RT 48)
Akron Rubber Mold and Machines Company founded in Akron, OH. Later In 1928, it was reorganized into the Akron Rubber Machinery Company. In 1935 it was at the center of a proxy fight that brought Bill W. to Akron, OH. (BW-RT 211-212, CH 4, NG 26, PIO 134, RAA 142)
1910 Dr. Bob received his medical degree, at age 31, from Rush Univ. He also received a highly coveted 2 year internship at City Hospital in Akron, OH. (CH 2, DBGO 27, NG 30,)
1910 Dr Bob started internship at City Hospital. For 2 years he had no problem with drinking. (GBGO 27)
1911 Ebby T. and Bill first met. They were classmates at Burr and Burton Seminary for 1 year (PIO 34)
1912 Dr. Bob, age 33, started medical practice at the 2nd National Bank Bldg in Akron. He remained there until he retired from practice in 1948. (DBGO 28)
Lois Burnham graduated from Packer Collegiate Institute, an exclusive girl’s school, in Brooklyn, NY. (DBGO 28+348, LR 12, PIO 40, BW-FH 13)
Sept., at the beginning of the school year at Burr and Burton, Bill was president of the senior class, a star football player, a star pitcher and captain of the baseball team and 1st violin in the school orchestra. (BW-FH 19)
Nov. 18, Bill's "first love", Bertha Bamford, died from hemorrhaging after surgery at the Flower Hospital in NYC. She was a schoolmate and daughter of the rector of Manchester’s Zion Episcopal Church. Bill learned about it at school on the 19th and began a 3 year episode of depression which greatly affected his performance at school and home. (AACOA 54, PIO 35-36, BW-RT 51-58, NG 12, BW-FH 19-20)
1913 Jan., Bill failed his mid-year exams at Burr and Burton in almost every subject and was forced to drop out of school. (BW-RT 58, BW-FH 19-20)
Apr., it became clear that Bill could not graduate from Burr and Burton and it was decided that he move to Boston to live with his mother Emily. (BW-RT-58)
Summer, Bill’s grandfather took him to PA for the 50th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. (PIO 38-39)
Summer, Bill and Lois Burnham spend some time together while she vacationed with her family at Emerald Lake (a few miles from Bill’s home in East Dorset, VT). Lois was 4 ½ years older than Bill and wasn’t especially interested in him at that time. Bill, his sister Dorothy and mother Emily were also camping at the Lake. (BW-RT 68, PIO 38-39, LR 13+15) Lois and Bill met through her brother Rogers. (PIO 48, BW-FH 23-24)
Late summer, after an absence of several months, Bill returned to Burr and Burton and took the senior examinations. He failed his German class and was told that he would not receive his diploma. Bill’s mother was furious and argued with the principal about it but the principal would not budge. Bill went to live with his mother and sister in Arlington, MA, a suburb of Boston, where he made up his German course. (BW-FH 20, BW-RT 65)
Fall, Bill attended Arlington High School to prepare for examinations for MIT. He was essentially repeating his senior year. His mother Emily decided that Bill should become an engineer and attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (BW-FH 2-21)
1914 Early, Dr. Bob (previously hospitalized at least a dozen times due to his drinking) was unable to get sober. His father sent a physician from St. Johnsbury to bring Dr. Bob home to VT where he stayed for about 4 months before returning to Akron. Bob did not touch a drink again until 5 years later when “the country went dry.” (1919). (AABB 174-175, DBGO 28-29, NG 30)
Bill could not pass the entrance exams for MIT so instead he enrolled at Norwich Univ., a military college in Northfield, VT. (BW-RT 65, BW-FH 20-21)
Summer, The relationship between Bill and Lois changed into a romance. They picnicked, hiked and took all-day drives together. (PIO 39)
July/Aug., World War I (the Great War) started in Europe and Russia. (www)
Aug., Bill went to British Columbia to visit his father Gilman (their first meeting in 9 years). Bill also met Christine Bock whom Gilman planned to marry. (PIO 42, BW-RT 65-66)
Fall, 19 year old Bill, entered Norwich Univ. The military college was considered second only to West Point in the quality and discipline of its military training. Total enrollment was 145 students. Bill was miserable at Norwich (PIO 40-42, LR 16, BW-RT 61, BW-FH 21)
1915 Jan. 25, after a 17 year courtship, Dr. Bob and Anne Robinson Ripley married in Chicago, IL. They took up residence at 855 Ardmore Ave., Akron, OH. (CH 2, DBGO 29)
T. Henry Williams came to Akron to work as Chief Engineer for the National Rubber Machinery Co. (PIO 145)
Early, at the beginning of his 2nd semester at Norwich, Bill fell and hurt his elbow and insisted on being treated by his mother. He was sent to Boston but Emily did not receive him well and immediately sent him back to Norwich. Bill had panic attacks that he perceived as heart attacks. Every attempt to perform physical exercise caused him to be taken to the college infirmary. After several weeks of being unable to find anything wrong, the doctors sent Bill home. This time he went to his grandparents in East Dorset, VT (BW-FH 21-22
Spring, Bill’s condition worsened in East Dorset but the doctors could find nothing physically wrong. He spent much of the early spring in bed complaining of “sinking spells.” (BW-FH 22)
Spring (?), Bill’s grandfather, Fayette, motivated Bill with the prospect of opening an agency to sell automobiles. Bill’s depression lifted and he began trying to interest people in buying automobiles. He wrote to his mother that he nearly sold an automobile to the Bamfords (the parents of his lost love). (BW-FH 23)
Summer, Bill sold kerosene burners and played fiddle at dances, weddings and other affairs. Romance blossomed between him and Lois. (PIO 48, BW-FH 23-24)
Sept 11, Bill and Lois became secretly engaged. (PIO 49, LR 1, BW-RT 79, BW-40 35)
Fall, Bill re-enters Norwich Univ. in a different frame of mind. He discovered a talent for leading his fellow cadets but his poor academic performance continued. Bill was also noted as being much better at giving orders than obeying them. The Commandant wanted to put Bill out of the school but the school’s musical director interceded. (BWFH 24-25)
1916 Feb., Bill (an onlooker and still a freshman) and his sophomore classmates were suspended for a full term from Norwich University for a serious hazing incident which started a fight between the freshman and sophomore classes. (PIO 49, BW-RT 87)
June, the Norwich Cadets, as part of the VT National Guard, were called up to respond to the Mexican border troubles fomented by Pancho Villa. This caused Bill and his classmates to be reinstated in Norwich. The cadets were sent to Fort Ethan Allen for mobilization. They returned to Norwich in a matter of weeks. (PIO 49, BW-RT 88-89)
Bill’s half sister, Helen, was born to Bill’s father Gilman and his 2nd wife Christine. (PIO 80)
1917 Jan., Lois moved to Short Hills, NJ to teach in a small private school her Aunt Marian started in her home. (LR 12)
Apr. 6, the U.S. declared war on Germany and entered World War I. (www)
May, Bill departed for officer’s training at Plattsburg, NY. After 8 weeks artillery training at Fort Monroe, VA he was commissioned, at age 21, a 2nd Lieutenant in the 66th Artillery Corps. He was then sent to Ft. Rodman outside of New Bedford, MA. (BW-RT 92-95, BW40 38+41)
Summer, Bill took his first drink at Emmy and Catherine Grinnell’s house in New Bedford, MA at age 22. It was a Bronx Cocktail (gin, dry and sweet vermouth and orange juice). He got thoroughly drunk and passed out. He threw up and was miserably sick the next day (PIO 54-56, BW-RT 95-97, BW40 42-43, NG 13-14, BWFH 26)
Dec., Congress approved the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution for the prohibition of alcohol. (www)
1918 Jan., Frank Buchman met Sam Shoemaker in Peking (now Beijing), China. Buchman introduced Shoemaker to the four absolutes (honesty, purity, unselfishness and love). Shoemaker had a spiritual awakening and conversion experience and became a devoted member of Buchman’s First Century Christian Fellowship. (NW 29, 47-52, RAA 117-118)
Jan., Lois left her Aunt Marian’s School in NJ. (LR 22, RAA 118)
Jan. 24, spurred by rumor that Bill would soon be heading overseas, Bill and Lois were married at the Swedenborgian Church in Brooklyn, NYC. Their wedding date was originally Feb. 1st. Lois’ brother Rogers Burnham stood as best man. Bill’s last stateside posting was at Fort Adams near Newport, RI. (BW-RT 100, PIO 58+407, RAA 146, BW-FH 27)
Feb. 15, Dr. Bob and Anne’s adopted daughter, Suzanne, was born (CH 11, PIO 140)
June 5, Dr. Bob and Anne’s son, Robert (Smitty), was born (CH 2, PIO 140)
July 18, Bill sailed from Boston to NY Harbor on the British ship Lancashire. On the voyage to England, an officer shared his brandy with Bill. Detained in London, Bill visited Winchester Cathedral and was stirred by a "tremendous sense of presence.” Bill read the epitaph on the headstone of a Hampshire Grenadier. (BW-RT 102-108, PIO 59-60, RAA 146)
Nov. 11, Armistice Day: at 11 o’clock, on the 11th day of the 11th month. World War I ended. (BW-RT 109, RAA 146, www)
1919 Jan. the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, for the prohibition of alcohol, was ratified. (www)
Mar., Bill sailed from Bordeaux, France on the S.S. Powhatan to NY Harbor. (BW-RT 109)
May, Bill was discharged from the Army at Camp Devens. (BW-RT 109)
Dr. Bob’s father, Judge Walter Perrin Smith, died. (DBGO 10)
Summer, Bill and Lois settled in Brooklyn at the home of Lois’ father on 182 Clinton St. (BW-RT 113, LR 27, PIO 62+407, RAA 147)
Lois’ father, Dr. Clark Burnham, got Bill a job as a clerk in the insurance department of the NY Central Railroad. Bill worked for his brother-in-law Cy Jones. After working “some months” Bill was fired. (PIO 63, BW-RT 119, BW-40 57)
For several weeks Bill worked on the NY Central piers, near 72nd St. in Manhattan, driving spikes into planks. Threatened with violence, because he wouldn’t join a union, he decided to move on. (PIO 63, BW-RT 114)
Aug., Bill and Lois set off for an extended month-long walking trip thru Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Lois encouraged this partly to give them time to think and partly to get Bill away from drinking. (LR 27-30, PIO 64-65)
Oct., Congress passed the Volstead Act (The National Prohibition Act) over President Wilson’s veto. (www)
1920 Feb., Lois got a job with the Red Cross at the Brooklyn Naval Hospital. (LR 31)
Bill and Lois moved into a 1-room furnished apartment on State St. (around the corner from her parents’ home on Clinton St.). Bill, not finding what he wanted to do, was restless and increased his drinking. (LR 31)
1921 Feb., Lois started work at a better paying job at the psychiatric ward of Bellevue Hospital. Bill and Lois moved from State St. to a 3-room attic apartment on Amity St. (LR 33-35, BW-RT 124)
May, Bill answered a blind advertisement in the NY Times and received a reply from Thomas Edison to come to his laboratory to take an employment test of 286 questions. (PIO 64-66)
July, Bill and Lois set off on another camping trip on the 300-mile Long Trail in the Green Mountains in VT. The trips to the country were Lois’ way to get Bill to stop drinking. On the trip, Bill decided to enter Law School. (LR 31, BW-FH 30) Later in the year, Bill entered night classes at the Brooklyn Law School, a division of St. Lawrence Univ. (LR 31, PIO 64)
Late summer, Bill found work as a fraud and embezzlement investigator for the U.S. Fidelity & Guarantee Co. (and got his first glimpse of Wall St.). Shortly after going to work at USFG, Bill received an employment invitation from Edison but did not accept it. He decided to stay around Wall St. (PIO 64, BW-RT 121-123, BW-FH 31)
Frank Buchman was invited, by two Anglican Bishops, to visit Cambridge, England. Buchman’s movement the First Century Christian Fellowship would emerge into what would soon be called the Oxford Group and receive wide publicity during the 1920’s and 1930’s. (DBGO 53-54, CH 3)
Dec. Bill’s grandmother, Ella Brock Griffith, died. (PIO 70, BW-RT 125)
1922 Ebby T’s family business failed. (PIO 83)
Bill’s bouts with alcohol were becoming more frequent. And more and more he was drinking alone. (BW-RT 124-125, CH 3, LR 34, PIO 67)
Frank Buchman resigned his job at Hartford Theological Seminary to pursue a wider calling. Over the next few years he worked mostly in universities (Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge). During the economic depression, students, particularly in Oxford, responded to his approach and were ordained ministers. Others gave all their time working with him. (www)
Summer, Lois experienced two ectopic pregnancies, the 1st in June and the 2nd in July. After the 2nd such misfortune, Bill and Lois were obliged to face the fact that they would never have children. (PIO 67, LR 34)
1923 Dr Bob and Anne adopted their daughter Suzanne, age 5; the same age as their son Robert (Smitty). (CH 2-11, DBGO 35-36)
May, Lois experienced her 3rd ectopic pregnancy. Bill was so drunk that he didn’t go to the hospital to see her. (BW-RT 128, LR 34, RAA 147, BW-FH 37)
Bill’s mother, Emily, married Dr. Charles Strobel. (PIO 75)
Christmas, Bill wrote a vow in the flyleaf of the family bible: “Thank you for your love and help this terrible year. For your Christmas I make you this present: No liquor will pass my lips for one year. I’ll make the effort to keep my word and make you happy.” Two months later there was another such vow. (BW-RT 127, RAA 148, BW-FH 33)
1924 Bill’s grandfather (and substitute father) Gardner Fayette Griffith, died. (BW-RT 128, PIO 70)
Bill finished law school but never picked up his diploma. He showed up for the final exams so drunk that he couldn’t read the questions. He paid his $15 fee for the diploma but never picked it up because he was required to attend a commencement ceremony to pick it up. Bill was unwilling to do that. (LR 31, PIO 67+70, BW-FH 32)
Feb., Bill again vowed not to drink. As time passed there would be still other vows. (BW-RT 127)
1925 April, Bill and Lois began a 1-year motorcycle venture on a 3-wheeler Harley-Davidson. Among other places, they visited GE in Schenectady, NY and Portland Cement in Egypt, PA. By winter they were in FL. From there they headed north and into Canada. Bill became one of the first “Market Analysts.” His alcoholism progressed. (PIO 69-75, BW-FH 5, LR 37, 39)
1926 Spring, Bill and Lois returned to Brooklyn for the marriage of Lois’ sister Kitty on June 17. Both were previously injured in a motorcycle accident. (BW-RT 141, LR 60-61)
Bill’s drinking was openly and frankly discussed with Frank Shaw at business conferences between Bill and Shaw. (PIO 75, BW-RT 141) For the next few years fortune threw money and applause Bill’s way. (PIO 75) But his success as a securities analyst was to be marred by a worsening drinking problem. (PIO 407)
June/July, Bill and Lois went off again for another 6 months of investigating businesses. They could have traveled first class on Bill’s expense account and a $20,000 line of credit ($250,000 in year 2000 dollars). Instead they drove a secondhand DeSoto that Lois outfitted with curtains so that they could sleep along side of the road. (BW-FH 40)
1927 Jan., Bill wrote to Lois that “There will be no booze during 1927.” It was short-lived. (LR 69)
Summer, Bill and Lois did an on-site investigation of Cuban Sugar in Havana. Bill’s drinking created problems and he accomplished little. Frank Shaw wrote to Bill expressing his concern. In Sept. Bill wrote to Frank Shaw that drinking had always been a problem for him and that he was “through with alcohol forever.” (PIO 79-80, BWFH 43-44)
Sept/Oct. (?), on the way home Bill and Lois stopped in Miami Beach to see Bill’s father and his second wife, Christine. Bill met his half-sister, Helen, born in 1916. (PIO 80)
On their return to NY, Bill and Lois rented a 3-room apartment at 38 Livingston St. in Brooklyn. It wasn’t big enough to satisfy Bill’s grandiose desires, so they enlarged the apartment by renting the one next to it and knocking out the wall between. (BW-RT 144, LR 71, PIO 80-81)
By the end of 1927 Bill was so depressed by his behavior that he signed over to Lois all rights, title and interests of his stockbroker accounts with Baylis & Co., and Tobey & Kirk. (LR 72, PIO 82)
1928 Bill was a star among his Wall St. associates and made great financial strides. But there was no question about the seriousness of his drinking. He sank into a form of hostility that poisoned his relationships. Bill’s brother-in-law, Dr. Leonard V. Strong, confronted him on the progressive nature of his drinking and referred Bill to a colleague to get a complete physical examination. (BW-RT 144-145, PIO 81)
Summer (?), a group of Rhodes Scholars, returned home to South Africa, from Oxford University, England, to tell what happened in their lives through meeting Frank Buchman. A railway employee labeled their train compartment “The Oxford Group.” The press took it up and the name stuck (the name “First Century Christian Fellowship” faded). (www)
Sept. 28, St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, OH opened. Shortly after, Dr. Bob met Sister Ignatia for the first time. Sister Ignatia was the registration clerk for the hospital. (SI 6-9, DBGO 45)
Oct. 20, Bill signed a pledge in the family Bible: “To my beloved wife that has endured so much, let this stand as evidence to you that I have finished with drink forever.”(PIO 81)
Thanksgiving, Bill signed another pledge in the family Bible: “My strength is renewed a thousand fold in my love for you.” (PIO 81)
1929 Jan., Bill signed yet another pledge in the family Bible: “To tell you once more that I am finished with it. I love you.” (PIO 81)
Jan., on a trip to Manchester, VT Bill called Ebby T and they drank together for the first time in Albany, NY. After an all-night party, they chartered a flight, with Flyers Inc. in Albany, to be the first flight to Manchester. They landed drunk (the pilot as well) and disgraced themselves. (EBBY 39-41, PIO 83-84, BW-40 121, NW 20, LR 76-77, LOH 367, BW-RT 183-184)
Dr. Bob went back to school and studied under the Mayo brothers in Rochester, Minnesota. He also studied at the Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia. He became a surgeon proctologist. (CH 101, DBGO 33)
Oct. 28-29, the Stock Market collapsed. Bill was broke and $60,000 in debt (equivalent to over a half million today). He and his benefactor, Frank Shaw, parted company. Later, (Nov.?) Bill’s friend, Dick Johnson, offered him a job in Montreal, Canada with Greenshields and Co. By Christmas the Wilsons were in Canada (BW-RT 152-154, LOH 367, LR 81, PIO 85-86, RAA 148-149, BW-FH 44-46)
1930 Bill and Lois lived lavishly in Montreal in a luxury furnished Glen Eagles apartment on Cotes des Neiges, in Mount Royal (overlooking the city). They had a brand new Packard automobile and membership in the Lachute Country Club. (BW-RT 154, BW-FH 45, LR 81)
Dr. William Duncan Silkworth, having lost his investments and savings in the stock market crash, and in desperation, made a connection with Towns Hospital at a salary of $40 a week. (PIO 101)
Sept 3, Bill wrote his last promise to stop drinking in the family Bible: “Finally and for a lifetime, thank God for your love.” After that he gave up making promises in despair. (LR 79)
Fall, in less than 10 months after his arrival in Montreal, Bill’s drinking got him fired, by Dick Johnson, from his job at Greenshields & Co. Lois went back to Brooklyn, because her mother had fallen ill. Bill stayed behind in Montreal to clean up details. (PIO 86, BW-RT 155, BW-FH 45)
Dec., after a binge by Bill that started in Montreal and carried him into VT, Lois went to get Bill and they finally returned to Clinton St. and moved into a room there. Lois’s mother was gravely ill and dying from bone cancer. (PIO 86-87, BW-FH 46)
Christmas, Lois’ mother died. Bill had been drunk for days beforehand and could not attend the funeral. He stayed drunk for many days after the funeral. (PIO 87, BW-RT 156, LR 82, BW-FH 46)
Bill was able to work occasionally through 1931, but entered a phase of helpless drinking. Lois went to work at Macy’s, earning $19 a week and that became their livelihood. (PIO 90, 128, BW-FH 47)
The Common Sense of Drinking, by Richard Peabody, was published. (NW 16)
Rowland H. saw Dr. Carl Gustav Jung in Zurich, Switzerland. Rowland was told that there was no medical or psychological hope for an alcoholic of his type; that his only hope was a spiritual or religious experience - in short a genuine conversion. This was considered "the first in the chain of events that led to the founding of AA." Rowland had to be treated by Jung twice. (NW 11-19, NG 8-9)
Dec., Russell “Bud” Firestone (an alcoholic and son of Akron business magnate Harvey Firestone Sr.) was introduced to Dr. Sam Shoemaker on a train trip returning from an Episcopal church conference in Denver, CO. Bud surrendered, with Sam, and was released from his alcohol obsession. He joined the Oxford Group. (NW 15, 65)
1932 Apr. 8, Bill’s brother-in-law Gardner Swentzel (Kitty’s husband) helped him form a stock buying syndicate with Arthur Wheeler and Frank Winans. Bill was assigned a generous interest with the stipulation that if he started drinking again, the deal would be off and he would lose his interest in the venture. (PIO 90-91, BW-RT 164-165)
May, Bill went on a business trip to Bound Brook NJ with a group of engineers from the Pathe Co. to look at a new photographic process. It turned into a disaster. In a small hotel, Bill drank Apple Jack (Jersey Lightning) and was drunk for 3 days. His contract with Wheeler and Winans was cancelled. (PIO 91-92, BW-RT 165-167)
Financier, Joe Hirschhorn (sometimes spelled Hirshhorn) hired Bill to analyze and evaluate companies. (DBGO 45, PIO 93-98)
1933 Jan., Harvey Firestone Sr., out of gratitude for the help the Oxford Group gave his son Bud, helped sponsor a large weekend (DBGO says 10-day) OG conference headquartered at the Mayflower Hotel in Akron. (Note: Bud later started drinking again). Frank Buchman, accompanied by 29 members (DBGO says 60) of his team, were met at the train station by the Firestones and the Rev. Walter Tunks. The event launched the OG as a regular activity in Akron. It attracted Henrietta Sieberling, T. Henry and Clarace Williams and Anne Smith. (NW 65-67, CH 2, DBGO 55)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a mortgage moratorium which prevented banks from foreclosing on unpaid mortgage payments. (Note: this kept Bill & Bob from being evicted from their homes) (CH 114)
Early, Anne Smith attended meetings of the Oxford Group in Akron with her friend Henrietta Sieberling. Anne later got Dr. Bob to attend. Meetings were held on Wed. nights at T. Henry and Clarace Williams’ house on 676 Palisades Dr. (NW 67-68, SI 32+34, DBGO 53-60, CH 2-3, 28-29)
Early, beer became legal and Dr. Bob went through a beer drinking phase (“the beer experiment”). It was not long before he was drinking a case and a half a day and fortifying the beer with straight alcohol. In his Big Book story, he says that this is also around the time when he was introduced to the Oxford Group (which he participated in for 2 ½ years in before meeting Bill). (DBGO 42, AABB 177-178, NW 62)
Feb., Congress passed the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution to repeal the 18th amendment. (www)
Joe Hirschhorn sent Bill on a trip to Toronto, Canada. Bill arrived at the Canadian border drunk and was refused entry. He protested so belligerently that he was arrested and jailed. After finally arriving in Toronto, Bill stayed drunk and had to be sent home as useless. This was Bill’s last chance on Wall St. (BW-FH 48, PIO 98)
May, Lois’ father married “Joan Jones.” Lois was the only family member who attended the civil wedding ceremony. (LR 83-84, PIO 98, BW-RT 170)
June-Sept., Lois took a 3-month leave of absence from Macy’s. She and Bill spent the summer in VT at the home of Bill’s sister Dorothy (who, with her husband and family, was vacationing in Europe). (BW-FH 49, LR 84, BW-RT 171)
Autumn, Lois, now earning $22.50 a week at Macy’s, turned to her brother-in-law, Dr. Leonard Strong, who arranged (and paid for) Bill’s 1st admission to Towns Hospital at 293 Central Park West, NYC. Bill was subjected to the “belladonna cure” which involved “purging and puking” aided by, among other things, castor oil. Belladonna, a hallucinogen, was used to ease the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. (PIO 98-101, LR 85, BW-40 104, NG 14-15, 310, BW-FH 50, BW-RT 174)
Dec 5, the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Prohibition of alcohol was repealed. (www)
1934 The Sermon On The Mount, by Emmet Fox, was published. The book became one of the Fellowship’s most useful guides until publication of the Big Book in 1939. The book was popular with Bill as well as Dr. Bob and the early Akron members. (NW 111, 114, DBGO 310-311)
Dr. Bob was appointed to the courtesy staff of St. Thomas Hospital. (SI 9, DBGO 45)
Roland H. found sobriety through the Oxford Group. It is not clear whether this occurred in Europe or in the U.S. He became a dedicated OG member in NY, VT and upper MA. He was a prominent member at the Calvary Church in NYC. (NW 11-19, NG 8-9, PIO 113-114)
Sister Ignatia befriended Dr. Thomas P. Scuderi, an emergency room intern (who later became the medical director of Ignatia Hall). She convinced the new doctor that alcoholics were sick and accident-prone and persuaded him to allow alcoholics to “rest” in St. Thomas Hospital before being released. Dr Scuderi and Sister Ignatia also secretly treated Bill D. who, a year later, became AA Number 3. (SI 10, DBGO 51).
March, Lois quit her job at Macy’s to take Bill to VT. They stayed there until the summer. (PIO 105-106)
July, Ebby T. was first approached, in Manchester, VT, by his friends, Cebra G. and Shep C., who were abstaining from drinking. They informed Ebby of the Oxford Group in VT. Ebby was not quite ready to stop drinking. (EBBY 51-55, PIO 113)
July (?), Bill’s 2nd admission to Towns Hospital (again paid by Leonard Strong). He met Dr. Silkworth for the first time. Dr Silkworth explained the obsession and allergy of alcoholism to Bill. Bill started drinking again almost immediately upon discharge. At this point he was unemployable, $50,000 in debt (around $600,000 in year 2000 dollars), suicidal and drinking around the clock. (PIO 106-108, BW-RT BW-40 114-117, NG 15, 310, BW-FH 50-55)
Aug., Rowland H. and Cebra G. persuade a VT court to parole Ebby T. into their custody. (Note: the presiding judge was Cebra G’s father Collins G.). Ebby had met Rowland only shortly before. Later, in the fall, Rowland took Ebby to NYC where he sobered up with the help of the Oxford Group at the Calvary Episcopal Mission. Sam Shoemaker was the rector at the Calvary Church (the OG’s U.S. headquarters). (RAA 151, AACOA vii, NW 20-21+26, EBBY 52-59, NG 9-10, PIO 115)
Aug. (?), Bill’s 3rd admission to Towns Hospital (again paid by Leonard Strong). Dr. Silkworth pronounced Bill a hopeless drunk and told Lois that Bill would have to be committed. Bill left the hospital a deeply frightened man and sheer terror kept him sober. He found a little work on Wall St. which began to restore his badly shattered confidence. (PIO 106-109, LR 87, AACOA vii, BW-RT 176-177, NG 15, 310, BW-FH 4-5, 54-55)
Nov. 11, Armistice Day. Bill decided to play golf and wound up getting drunk and injured. Lois began investigating sanitariums in which to place Bill. (BW-FH 56)
Nov. (late), Ebby T. visited Bill at 182 Clinton St. and told his story to Bill ("one alcoholic talking to another”). (AACOA vii) A few days later, Ebby returned with Shep C. They spoke to Bill about their experience with the Oxford Group. (NG 17-18, BW-FH 57-58, NW 22-23, PIO 111-116, BW-RT 187-192)
Dec. 7, Bill decided to investigate the Oxford Group Mission at 246 E. 23rd St. He showed up drunk with a drinking companion he found along the way (Alec the Finn). Bill kept interrupting the service wanting to speak. On the verge of being ejected, Ebby came by and fed Bill a plate of beans. Bill later joined the penitents and drunkenly “testified” at the meeting. (BW-40 136-137, NG 18-19, BW-FH 60, NW 23, PIO 116-119, BW-RT 193-196)
Dec. 11, Bill, 39 years old, decided to go back to Towns Hospital and had his last drink (4 bottles of beer purchased on the way). He received financial help from his mother, Emily, for the hospital bill. (RAA 152, NG 19, NW 23, PIO 119-120).
Dec. 14, Ebby visited Bill at Towns Hospital and discussed with Bill the principles of the Oxford Group that enabled him to find sobriety. After Ebby left, Bill fell into a deep depression (his “deflation at depth”). Later, he had his "hot flash" spiritual experience. Dr. Silkworth assured Bill he was not crazy and told him to hang on to what he had. (BW-40 141-148, NG 19-20, NW 23-24, PIO 120-124, GTBT 111)
Dec 15, Ebby brought Bill a copy of William James' book The Varieties of Religious Experience. Bill read it and was deeply inspired by it. The book revealed 3 key points for recovery (1) calamity or complete defeat in some vital area of life, (b) admission of defeat, and (c) appeal to a higher power for help. Bill continued studying the book along with the writings of Emmet Fox. (EEBY 70, SI 26, BW-40 150-152, NG 20-24, NW 24-25, PIO 124-125, GTBT 111-112)
Dec. 18, Bill was discharged from Towns Hospital and began working with drunks. He and Lois attended Oxford Group meetings at the Calvary House Hall on 4th Avenue. (LR 197, BW-40 155-160, NG 24-25, PIO 127)
Dec. (late), Bill joined with Oxford Group alcoholics who gathered at Stewart’s Cafeteria after regular OG meetings. (BW-RT 207, BW-40 160)
1935 Early, Bill worked with alcoholics at the Calvary Mission and Towns Hospital, emphasizing his "hot flash" spiritual experience. Alcoholic Oxford Group members began meeting at his home on Clinton St. Bill had no success sobering up others. (AACOA vii, AABB, BW-FH 69, PIO 131-133)
Apr., Bill had a talk with Dr. Silkworth who recommended that he stop preaching about his “hot flash.” He told Bill to hit the drunks hard with the medical view, and break down their strong ego by telling them about the obsession that condemned them to drink and the allergy that condemned them to go mad or die. (BW-RT 211, NG 25-26, PIO 133))
Apr., Bill returned to Wall St. and was introduced to Howard Tompkins of the firm Baer & Co. Tompkins was involved in an attempt to take over control of the National Rubber Machinery Co. (NRMC) based in Akron, OH. (BW-RT 211, NG 26, BW-FH 74, PIO 133-134)
May, Bill went to Akron and the proxy fight was quickly lost. Bill remained behind at the Mayflower Hotel very discouraged and afraid he might drink. (BW-RT 212, PIO 134-135)
May 11, Bill realized he needed another alcoholic. He made telephone calls in the Mayflower Hotel to members of the clergy. Rev. Walter Tunks referred Bill to Norman Sheppard who then referred Bill to Henrietta Seiberling, an Oxford Group adherent. Bill called her and introduced himself as “a member of the Oxford Group and a rum hound from NY.” Henrietta met with Bill at her house and arranged a meeting the next day at the Seiberling Estate with Dr. Bob and his wife Anne. (SI 21, BW-RT 212-213, DBGO 63-67, NG 26-28, PIO 135-138)
May 12, Mother’s Day. Bill (39 years old) met Dr. Bob (56 years old) at Henrietta Sieberling’s house. Bob was too hung over to eat dinner and planned to stay for only 15 minutes. Bill told Bob of his experiences with alcoholism and recovery. Bob then opened up and they talked until after 11PM. (BW-RT 214-215, DBGO 67-69, NG 28-32, BW-FH 4)
May, Bill and Bob tried unsuccessfully to sober up a “once prominent surgeon” who had developed into a “terrific rake and drunk.” (DBGO 70)
June, Henrietta Sieberling arranged for Bill to be put up at the Portage Country Club. Soon after, Bill moved to Dr. Bob’s house. They worked with alcoholics and attended weekly Oxford Group meetings on Wed. nights at the home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams. (Note: T. Henry lost his job as a result of the proxy fight that Bill came to Akron for) (AACOA 141, NW 68-69, 73, DBGO 99-102, PIO 145-147) (Note: GTBT 95-96 says that meetings were held at Dr. Bob’s house and they moved to the Williams’ house in late 1936 or early 1937)
June 10 (June 17?), after a drunken binge at the AMA convention in Atlantic City, NJ, Dr. Bob had his last drink and AA was founded. Dr. Bob’s last drink (a beer), and “one goofball”, were given to him by Bill to steady him prior to a surgery. (SI 22, DBGO 72-75, NG 32, PIO 147-149)
June 11, Dr. Bob suggested that he and Bill start working with other alcoholics. They unsuccessfully tried to sober up Eddie R. described as an “alcoholic atheist” and “able to produce a major crisis of some sort about every other day.” (DBGO 77-81, NG 37, PIO 151-152)
June 28, Bill and Bob visited Bill D., at City Hospital (the "Man on the Bed” and “Alcoholic Number 3"). Bill D. was a prominent attorney in Akron and had been hospitalized 8 times in 1935 because of his drinking. Within days he checked out of the hospital (July 4). Within a week he was back in court sober and argued a case. (AABB 184, BW-RT 219-220, DBGO 81-89, NG 37, PIO 152-154)
July (?), Lois went to Akron to join Bill at the Smith’s house for two weeks (LR 197, NG 41, BW-FH 85).
July, Ernie G. sobered up (“Alcoholic Number 4”). He eventually married Dr. Bob’s daughter, Sue, in Sept. 1941. Ernie was unable to maintain continuous sobriety and their marriage was a disaster. In June 11 1969, their daughter Bonna committed suicide after taking the life of her 6 year old daughter Sandy. Ernie G. died two years later to the day. (DBGO 92-95, CH 72-74, PIO 154-155)
Aug., Back in NY, Bill held meetings at his house at 182 Clinton St. on Tues. nights. (BW-RT 225, PIO 160-162, GTBT 96)
Nov. 19, Ebby came to live with Bill and Lois at 182 Clinton St. (LR 197, EBBY 72, NG 42-44)
Winter, Hank P. and Fitz M. sobered up at Towns Hospital. They provided a big help to Bill. (LR 101, BW-RT 225-226, NG 43-44) (Note: PIO 191 says 1937)
Estimated AA membership in 1935: 5 members in 2 groups. (AACOA 310)
1936 Bill's efforts with alcoholics received criticism from the Oxford Group members in NY. There was a contrast between the warmth and understanding of the OG members in Akron and the criticism and rejection of the OG members in NY. (NG 44-45, NW 73)
June, the Oxford Group was at the height of its popularity. 10,000 people flocked to the Berkshires to attend a meeting at Stockbridge, Massachusetts. (PIO 170)
Aug., Frank Buchman, had a public relations disaster caused by a newspaper article in the NY World Telegram which made him appear sympathetic to Adolph Hitler (at a time when the Nazi leader was launching his aggression). It was very negative publicity for the Oxford Group. (NW 30, 96, DBGO 155, BW-FH 96, PIO 170-171)
Sept., Lois’ father died. The house at 182 Clinton St. was taken over by the mortgage company which allowed Lois and Bill to stay there for a small rental. (PIO 175)
Dec., Charles Towns offered Bill a job at his hospital. Bill wanted it. The question was presented to the NY group and they rejected it. This was the emergence of the concept of “group conscience.” (LR 197, BW-RT 232-234, NG 63-64, PIO 175-177)
Estimated AA membership in 1936: 15 members in 2 groups. (AACOA 310)
1937 Early, Bill and Lois attended a major Oxford Group “house party” at the Hotel Thayer in West Point, NY. For the past 2 ½ years Bill and Lois had been attending 2 OG meetings a week. (NW 89)
The spirit of the Third Tradition was established when a member asked to be admitted, who described himself as the “victim of another addiction even worse stigmatized than alcoholism.” The group was Akron, OH and the guideline, established by Dr. Bob, was “What would the Master do?” (DBGO 240-241)
Late spring, leaders of the Oxford Group, at the Calvary Mission, ordered alcoholics staying at the mission not to attend meetings at 182 Clinton St. Bill and Lois received criticism from OG members for having “drunks only” meetings at their home in Brooklyn. The Wilsons were described as “not maximum” (an OG term for those believed to be lagging in their devotion to OG principles). (EBBY 75, LR 103, BW-RT 231, NG 45, NW 89-91)
Residents at 182 Clinton St. were Ebby T., Oscar V., Russell R., Bill C. and Florence R. Bill C., a young Canadian and former attorney, committed suicide in Bill’s home (Note: PIO 165 says summer of 1936). Florence R. was the first woman at Clinton St. She went to Washington DC to help Fitz M. and started drinking again in 1949. One night Fitz was called to identify her body at the Washington morgue. She had committed suicide. (AABB 16, BW-RT 237, LR 107, CBC)
Apr., Ebby T. got drunk after 2 years and 7 months of sobriety. (LR 197, EBBY 77, BW-FH 63, PIO 177)
Aug., Bill and Lois stopped attending Oxford Group meetings. (LR 197)
Nov., Bill and Dr. Bob met in Akron and compared notes. 40 cases staying sober. More than 20 sober for over a year. All had been diagnosed as hopeless. A meeting was held, at the home of T. Henry Williams, to consider Bill's ideas for a book, pamphlets, hospitals and how to expand the movement. It narrowly passed by a majority of 2. The NY group was more enthusiastic. (BW-RT 239-243, DBGO 123-124, NG 56-57, PIO 180)
Nov., Bill W. and Hank P. tried to raise money for the book without success. (LR 197, PIO 181)
Dec., Bill’s brother-in-law, Dr. Leonard V. Strong, helped arrange a meeting with Willard S. Richardson (who was in charge of John D. Rockefeller’s philanthropies) in an appeal to raise funds. A second meeting was held which included Bill, Dr. Bob, Hank P., Fitz M., and Ned P. (a new man). Other attendees were Dr. Silkworth, Richardson, Frank Amos, A. LeRoy Chipman and Albert Scott. (BW-RT 245-246, NG 65-66, PIO 181-185)
Estimated AA membership in 1937: 40 members in 2 groups. (AACOA 310)
1938 Feb., Frank Amos made a trip to Akron, OH to investigate the group there. Amos made a very favorable report to Willard Richardson who, in turn, presented it to John D. Rockefeller Jr. with a recommendation to donate $50,000 (Note: BW-FH 105-106 states the recommendation was actually a total of $10,000, $5,000 a year for two years). (SM S3, BW-RT 246, LR 197, DBGO 128-135, BW-FH 105-106, PIO 185-187)
Feb., John D. Rockefeller Jr. refused to make the $50,000 donation but did donate $5,000. The funds were used to pay off Dr. Bob’s mortgage and provided Bill and Bob with $30 a week as long as the fund lasted (BW-RT 247, AACOA 150-151, DBGO 135, PIO 187-188)
May 20, (Note: PIO 193 says March or Apr.) beginning of the writing of the book Alcoholics Anonymous at Hank P.’s office, Honors Dealers, at 17 William St. in Newark, NJ. Bill wrote, edited and rewrote the manuscripts at home on legal pads then dictated chapters to Hank’s secretary, Ruth Hock. Most of the early Big Book documents were lost during a later move from Newark to NYC. (AACOA vii, 159 BW-RT 248-250, LR 197, BW-FH 115, PIO 193, 235)
While nations of the world armed for World War II, Frank Buchman called for a “moral and spiritual re-armament” to address the root causes of the conflict. Buchman renamed the Oxford Group to Moral Re-Armament (www, NW 44)
June 15, Lois’ recollection of the first use of the term Alcoholics Anonymous. (LR 197)
July 15, in a letter to Messrs. Richardson, Chipman and Scott, of the Rockefeller Foundation, Bill invited them to his home on Clinton St. for meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous – this was the first documented use of the name of the Fellowship. (PIO 202)
July 18, Dr. Richards of Johns Hopkins, stated in a letter that Bill, at that time, was using the name Alcoholics Anonymous both as the working title of the book and as the name of the Fellowship. (PIO 202)
Aug. 11, the Alcoholic Foundation was formed. The first Board consisted of 5 Trustees: Dick Richardson, Frank Amos and Dr. Leonard Strong (non-alcoholics). The alcoholic members were Dr. Bob and Bill R. a NY member who soon got drunk and was replaced. (BW-RT 248, AACOA 151-152, LR 197, NG 307, 330, PIO 188) (Note NG end note states AACOA date is erroneous as well as the Amos’ date of 5 Aug).
Sept., Trustee, Frank Amos, arranged a meeting between Bill and Eugene Exman, Religious Editor of Harper Brothers publishers. Exman offered Bill a $1,500 advance on the rights to the book. The foundation Trustees urged acceptance of the Harper Brothers offer. Instead, Hank P. and Bill formed Works Publishing Co. and sold stock at $25 par value. Of, 600 shares issued, Hank and Bill received 200 shares each. 200 shares were sold to others. (LR 197, BW-FH 116-119, SM S6, PIO 193-195)
Charles Towns loaned Hank and Bill $2,500 for the book. (PIO 196, SM S7)
Oct., Bill’s recollection of the first use of the term Alcoholics Anonymous. (AACOA 165, PIO 202)
Dec., the initial version of the Twelve Steps was written at Bill’s home on 182 Clinton St. (in approximately 30 minutes). Much argument ensued over their wording. (AACOA vii, 161, BW-RT 253, PIO 197-199)
Estimated AA membership in 1938: 100 members in 2 groups. (AACOA vii, AABB xiii, AACOA 310)
1939 Jan., draft book text and stories (18 from Akron, 10 from NY) were completed. (AACOA 164, BW-RT 255)
Jan., the Alcoholic Foundation board was increased from 5 to 7 members with the non-alcoholics still holding the majority. (PIO 189)
Jan., 400 multilith copies of the book were distributed for evaluation. The misspelled title on the multilith copies was Alcoholic’s Anonymous. (AACOA 165, LR 197, NG 74, PIO 200)
Jan, (?) NY member, Jim B., suggested the phrase “God as we understand Him.” Jim later moved to Philadelphia in Feb. 1940 and was the founder of AA in that city. (BW-FH 140, GTBT 137)
Mar. (?), the much changed book manuscript was presented to Tom Uzzell, an editor at Collier’s and a friend of Hank P. (and a member of the faculty at NYU). The manuscript was estimated to be 600 to 800 pages (including personal stories). Uzzell reduced it to approximately 400 pages. Most cuts came from the personal stories which had also been edited by Jim S., an AA member and journalist from Akron. (BW-FH 126, PIO 203)
Apr., the 1st edition of Alcoholics Anonymous was published with a price of $3.50 ($40 in today’s dollars). The printer, Mr. Blackwell of Cornwall Press, was instructed to use the thickest paper in his shop. The original volume was so bulky that it became known as the “Big Book.” The idea was to convince the alcoholic that he was getting his money’s worth. (AACOA viii, NG 76, PIO 204-205)
Apr. 11, Marty M., attended her first meeting at Bill’s house on 182 Clinton St. She was a charity patient at the Blythewood Sanitarium in Greenwich, CT, under the care of Dr. Harry Tiebout. Tiebout gave her a manuscript of the Big Book to read and arranged for her to go to the meeting. (BW-RT 271, BW-FH 8, 125-126, AACOA 18, PIO 210-213)
Apr. 26, Bill and Lois had to vacate their home on 182 Clinton St. This began an almost 2-year period where they moved from house to house and stayed with friends. By Lois’ count it amounted to 54 moves. (AACOA 173, LR 197, BW-RT 258, BW-FH 91, PIO 213-218)
Apr. 29, Morgan R. appeared on the radio program We the People with Gabriel Heatter. It resulted in only 12 replies. (PIO 210)
May 18, Led by Clarence S. the Cleveland, OH group met separately from Akron (and the Oxford Group) at the home of Abby G. This was the first group to call itself Alcoholics Anonymous. The Clevelanders still sent their most difficult cases to Dr. Bob in Akron for treatment. (NW 94, SI 35, DBGO 161-168, NG 78-79, PIO 224).
June 25, the New York Times wrote a favorable review of the Big Book. It did not help sales much since the Big Book was not available in book stores. (BW-FH 127)
Aug. Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia (who was in charge of admissions) started work at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron. On Aug.16, Sister Ignatia arranged for the first AA admission, Walter B., at the request of Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob revealed to Sister Ignatia his own problems with alcohol. (AACOA viii, SI 15-19, NG 79-80 DBGO 187-188)
Sep. 30, Liberty Magazine, headed by Fulton Oursler, carried a piece titled Alcoholics and God by Morris Markey (who was influenced to write the article by Charles Towns). It generated hundreds of inquiries from around the nation. Oursler became friends with Bill and later served as a Trustee on the Alcoholic Foundation Board. (LOH 145, BW-FH 127-129, PIO 223-224)
Oct., sudden expansion of membership at Cleveland occurred based on the Liberty Magazine article and editorials in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by Elrick B. Davis. Cleveland membership jumped from a dozen to over 100 in a month. Clarence S. of Cleveland called himself “the Father of Alcoholics Anonymous.” (AACOA viii, 177-178, BW-RT 261, LR 197, LOH 145-146, SI 164, PIO 224)
Hank P’s business failed. Hank and Bill moved to small one-room office at 17 William St. in Newark, NJ. (BW-RT 261)
Nov/Dec, Akron members withdrew from the Oxford Group and held meetings at Dr. Bob’s house. It was a painful separation due to the affection the alcoholic members had toward T. Henry and Clarace Williams. (NW 93-94, SI 35, DBGO 212-219, NG 81, GTBT 123)
Dec., Rockland State Hospital, near Monsey, NY, became the first mental hospital to have its own AA Group. (BW-FH 128)
Estimated AA membership in 1939: 400 members (AACOA 310)
1940 Jan., the Akron group moved meetings from Dr. Bob’s house to King’s School on Wed. night. (SI 35-36, DBGO 219, NW 94)
Early, the famous “Rule Number 62” story was relayed to Bill in a letter from a chastened “promoter member.” (NG 107)
Feb. 8, John D. Rockefeller Jr. sponsored a dinner for AA at the Union League Club. 75 of his 400 invited guests (and friends) attended. The dinner raised $2,200 ($1,000 of which came from Rockefeller). Rockefeller and his dinner guests would provide about $3,000 a year for the next 4 years (to 1945). This was accomplished through the Alcoholic Foundation which raised funds and received the income from the sale of the Big Book. (LR 197, BW-RT 264-267, AACOA 182-187, NG 92-94, BW-FH 109-112, PIO 232-235).
Feb., the Houston Press ran 6 articles about AA, written anonymously by former Cleveland member Larry J. on his way to Houston. The articles became one of the early AA pamphlets. (LR 197)
Feb, the first clubhouse was rented at 334 ¼ West 24th St. in NYC. It formerly was the Illustrators Club. (LR 197) In November, Bill and Lois moved into a small upstairs bedroom of the clubhouse for about a year. (Note: PIO 239 says 5 months) (AACOA 180, BW-RT 272-273, PIO 238-239)
Mar. 16, the fledgling Alcoholic Foundation office moved from 17 William St. Newark, NJ to 30 Vessey St., Room 703, in NYC. The mailing address was Box 658 Church St. Annex Post Office. Ruth Hock became AA’s first national Secretary. The non-alcoholic Trustee members of the Alcoholic Foundation would remain a majority for 39 years. (BW-RT 268, AACOA 179, LR 129 +197, BW-FH 112, SM S6, PIO 235)
Apr, Hank P. got drunk after 4 years sobriety. He wanted to marry Ruth Hock who refused. (BW-RT 268, PIO 228-229)
Apr. 16, Cleveland Indians baseball star “Rollicking” Rollie H., had his anonymity broken (in the Cleveland Plains Dealer and nationally). Bill W. did likewise in later personal appearances in 1942 and 1943. (BW-RT 268-270, DBGO 249-253, NG 85-87, 96-96, AACOA 24-25, BW-FH 134-135, PIO 236-238, GTBT 156)
May 22, Works Publishing Co. was incorporated. Bill and Hank P. gave their stock to Works Publishing Inc. with the stipulation that Dr. Bob and Anne would get 10% royalties on the Big Book for life. Hank was persuaded to relinquish his shares in exchange for a $200 payment for office furniture he claimed belonged to him. (LR 197, BW-FH 119, SM 11, PIO 235-236, GTBT 92)
May/June, Hank P., harboring many resentments against Bill, went to Cleveland, OH and claimed that Bill was getting rich from the Rockefellers and taking the Big Book profits for himself. Clarence S. (founder of Cleveland AA and Hank’s brother-in-law for a number of years in the 1940’s) spent many years accusing Bill of financial irregularities and claiming himself as the true founder of AA. (PIO 255-257, BW-FH 131, PIO 231, 255-257)
Oct., Bill W. went to Philadelphia to speak to Curtis Bok, one of the owners of the Saturday Evening Post (the largest general circulation magazine in the country). In Dec. Jack Alexander was assigned to do a story on AA. (LR 131, BW-RT 278-279, BW-FH 140-141, PIO 244-245)
Dec (Nov?), Bill W. met Father Ed Dowling SJ, for the first time at the 24th St Clubhouse. Father Ed became Bill’s spiritual advisor (spiritual sponsor) and helped start AA in St. Louis, MO. (BW-RT 275-278, BW-FH 137-139, PIO 241-243, GTBT 120-121)
Estimated AA membership in 1940: 2,000 members (AACOA 180, 310, LOH 147, SM S6)
1941 Fitz. M’s sister, Agnes, loaned Works Publishing Inc. $1,000 to pay the printer, Cornwall Press, to release Big Books being held for payment. (BW-FH 92)
Mar. 1, Jack Alexander's Saturday Evening Post article was published. The publicity caused membership to jump from 2,000 (1,500?) to 8,000 over the year. Bill and two other members’ pictures appeared full-face in the article. (BW-RT 281, LOH 150, BW-FH 146, PIO 245-247) Around 6,000 appeals for help were mailed to the NY Office as a result of the article. (SM S7, PIO 249) The NY office asked AA members to contribute $1 per year for support of the office. (LOH 149, SM S7)
April 11, Bill and Lois moved into a new home in Bedford Hills, NY (they named it Stepping Stones). (BW-RT 284, PIO 259-260)
Dr. Sam Shoemaker left the Oxford Group (now called Moral Re-Armament) and formed a fellowship called Faith at Work. The MRA members were asked to completely vacate the premises at Calvary Hall. (EBBY 75-76)
May 8, Ethel M., the first female member in Akron, OH sobered up. (SI 131)
June, Ruth Hock received a newspaper clipping of the Serenity Prayer from Jack C. It was printed in the obituary section of a June edition of the New York Herald Tribune. She printed it on a card and included it in mail going out from the office. (BW-RT 261-262, GTBT 167, PIO 252)
Dec. 8, the U.S. entered World War II.
Estimated AA membership in Nov. 1941: 6,000 members in 200 groups. (PIO 266)
Estimated AA membership in 1941: 8,000 members. (AACOA 310)
1942 A. LeRoy Chipman solicited John D. Rockefeller Sr., and his 1940 dinner guests, for $8,500 to buy back the remaining outstanding shares in Works Publishing Inc. Rockefeller lent $4,000, his son Nelson $500 and the other dinner guests lent $4,000. Rockefeller’s custom was to forgive $1 of debt for each $1 repaid. (BW-FH 110-111, SM S7)
Ruth Hock left the NY office to get married. Bobbie B. took her place. (GTBT 168, PIO 304) (Note: LOH 152 says 1941)
Oct., Clarence S. stirred up a controversy in Cleveland, after discovering that Dr. Bob and Bill were receiving royalties from the sale of the Big Book. (DBGO 267-269, BW-FH 153-154)
Correspondence from groups gave early signals of the need to develop guidelines to help the groups with problems that occurred over and over. The basic ideas for the Twelve Traditions emerged from this correspondence. Also, basic principles for the Twelve Traditions were well-reflected in the Foreword to the First Edition. (PIO 305-306
Oct., Volume 1, No. 1 of the Cleveland, OH Central Bulletin was published.
1943 The Alcoholic Foundation Board was enlarged. (GTBT 78)
July, 1st summer session of the Yale Univ. School of Alcohol Studies. (CBC)
Oct. 4, Fitz M died from cancer. (CBC)
1944 May 9, Bill W. presented a talk to the Medical Society of the State of NY. (GSO, LOH 155, BW-FH 163, SM S9)
Dr. Harry Tiebout published his first paper on the subject of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Apr. 14, the Alcoholic Ward opened at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, OH. (SI 108)
May 1, the Vessey St. office was moved to 415 Lexington Ave, NY, 17, NY near the Grand Central Terminal. The new mailing address was PO Box 459, Grand Central Annex. (LOH 152)
June, Volume 1, No. 1 of The Grapevine was published. A one year subscription was $1.50. It was started by 6 volunteer members (“6 ink stained wretches”) as a newsletter for AA members in the NYC area. (LOH 153, SM S79, PIO 305).
Summer, Bill W. began twice-a-week treatment with Dr. Tiebout for debilitating episodes of depression. Some AA members were outraged and castigated Bill for “not working the program”, “secretly drinking” and “pill taking.” Bill endured the attacks in silence. (BW-RT 299, BW-40 166, BW-FH 6, 160-161, 166, PIO 292-303, GTBT 121)
Estimated AA membership in 1944: 10,000 members in 360 groups. (BW-FH 163, PIO 304)
1945 Bill started seeing psychotherapist, Dr. Frances Weeks (a Jungian) once a week. He continued to see her until 1949 for his episodes of depression. (BW-FH 166-167)
At the suggestion of Earl T, founder of AA in Chicago, Bill codified the Traditions and wrote essays on them for The Grapevine. Initially, the Twelve Traditions were called Twelve Points to Assure Our Future. (GTBT 54-55, 77, SM S8, PIO 306)
Bill W. encouraged the 41st St. clubhouse in NY to take in a black man who was an ex-convict, with bleach-blond hair, women’s clothing and wearing makeup. The man also admitted to being a “dope fiend.” When asked what to do about it, Bill asked “did you say he was a drunk?” When answered “yes” Bill replied “well I think that’s all we can ask.” (BW-FH 8, PIO 317-318)
June, Cleveland, OH hosted a “Big Meeting” to celebrate AA’s 10th anniversary. Est. attendance 2,500 from 36 states, 2 Canadian provinces and 1 from Mexico. (GSO, GTBT 27-28)
Dec. 20, Rowland H. died. He remained a member of the Oxford Group (Moral Re-Armament). It is unclear whether he stayed sober or had relapses. Tragically, he lost two sons in World War II. (www)
Late, Universal Pictures movie The Lost Weekend premiered and generated favorable publicity for AA. (GTBT 25, 156, NG 120)
Estimated AA membership in 1945: 15,000 members in 560 groups. (NG 113, BW-FH 163, BW-FH 180)
1946 Apr, The Grapevine carried the article Twelve Suggested Points for AA Tradition. (LOH 20)
The General Service Conference was first projected. (LOH 338) (Note: SM 12 says 1945)
The AA Preamble first appeared in The Grapevine. (NG 254)
A dispute rose over a solicitation letter from the National Council for Education on Alcoholism (NCEA) prepared by Marty M. The letter broke her anonymity. Dr. Bob’s and Bill’s names also appeared on the NCEA letterhead. (GTBT 29, NG 119)
Estimated AA membership in 1946: 30,000 members in 1,000 groups. (BW-FH 163)
1947 Mar. 3, Nell Wing started work at the Alcoholic Foundation, 415 Lexington Ave., NYC. (GTBT 15)
Summer, Bill W. took instructions in the Catholic faith from Monsignor (later Bishop) Fulton J. Sheen. He was introduced to Bishop Sheen by Fulton and Grace Oursler. Bill’s instructions lasted for about a year after which Bill lost interest. (NG 52, BW-FH 174-175, PIO 280-282, GTBT 81)
Dr. Bob was stricken with cancer. (BW-RT 303-304)
Estimated AA membership in 1947: about 40,000 members with 1,250 groups. (GTBT 22)
1948 Summer, Dr. Bob is diagnosed as having terminal cancer. He closed his medical office and retired from practice so that he and Anne could live their last days together quietly. (DBGO 320)
Estimated AA membership in 1948: 70,000 members. (DBGO 287)
Estimated AA membership in 1948: 60,000 members in 2,000 groups. (BW-FH 163)
1949 As plans for the first International Convention were being laid, Earl T., founder of AA in Chicago, suggested to Bill that the Twelve Points to Assure Our Future would benefit from revision and shortening, Bill set out to develop the short form of the Traditions in time for the Convention. (GTBT 55, 77, PIO 334)
May, Bill presented a talk to the American Psychiatric Association’s 105th Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada. (GSO, LOH 156, SM S9, PIO 334)
June 1, Anne Ripley Smith died at St. Thomas Hospital. Sister Ignatia secretly baptized Anne (as an act of love) prior to her death. In a memorial Grapevine article, Bill W. said that Anne was “quite literally, the mother of our first group, Akron Number One.” (LOH 353, DBGO 327, SI 136, PIO 334).
1950 The NY office moved to 141 East 44th St. (LOH 157, GTBT 106).
Grapevine subscriptions were 30,000. (LOH 158).
Mar. 29, a 2nd Saturday Evening Post article was written by Jack Alexander titled The Drunkard’s Best Friend (GTBT 34)
July 28-30,15th anniversary and 1st International Convention at Cleveland, OH. Est. 6,000 to 8,000 attendees over the weekend. (BW-RT 308, GSO) Dr. Bob made a brief appearance at the Convention for his last talk. (GSO) The Twelve Traditions were adopted unanimously by the attendees. (AACOA, LOH 121)
Aug. Dr. Bob gave Bill W. his endorsement of the idea for the General Service Conference (DBGO 325)
Nov. 16, Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, co-founder of AA, died of cancer at City Hospital in Akron, OH. His funeral service was conducted by the Rev. Walter Tunks whose answer to a phone call 15 years earlier brought Bill and Bob together. It is estimated that, over his 15 years of sobriety, Dr. Bob helped more than 5,000 alcoholics. (GSO, DBGO 344) Bill described Bob as “the prince of the Twelfth Steppers.” (GTBT 90)
AA members were asked to donate $2 per year to support the NY office. (LOH 159)
Estimated AA membership in 1950: 100,000 members in 3,500 groups. (BW-FH 185)
1951 Mar., William D. Silkworth MD dies at Towns Hospital in NYC. (CBC)
Apr., 1st General Service Conference in NYC at the Hotel Commodore (beginning a 5-year experimental period). It was composed of 37 U.S. and Canadian Delegates plus AA’s General Service Hq. staff and trustees. (LOH 129, SM S99). Panel 1 (37 delegates) took office for a 2-year term. Its theme was “Not to Govern but to Serve.” (NG 129-130). It recommended that:
· Non-alcoholics should continue to serve on the Board of the Alcoholic Foundation.
· The alcoholic members of the board of trustees ought to have a fixed term of office.
· In future years, AA textbook literature should have Conference approval.
Apr. at the close of the GSC, Lois W. and her close friend and neighbor, Anne B., invited the wives of the delegates, along with local family group members, to Stepping Stones to discuss opening a service office for Al-Anon Family Groups. Later, the first AFG headquarters (called the “Clearing-house Committee) was established at the 24th St. clubhouse in NYC. (LR 174-176)
First draft of the Third Legacy Manual by Bill W. (SM S1)
Oct. 30, the Lasker Award was given to AA by the American Public Health Association at the San Francisco, CA Opera House. (AACOA viii, LOH 136)
1952 Apr., 2nd experimental General Service Conference in NYC. Panel 2 (38 additional delegates) took office for a 2 year term. Its theme was “Progress.” (NG 130) It recommended that:
· Facsimile reproductions of the Lasker Award be made available to all AA Groups in suitable form for framing where desired.
· Delegates and state committeemen make a special effort to enlighten their groups in respect to the position of the General Service Office as the functional center of the AA movement …
· The non-alcoholic trustees continue to serve us without restrictions. (Floor action)
Dec 15, the first patient, Don L., was admitted to St. Vincent’s Charity Hospital Rosary Hall Solarium alcoholic ward. The ward was built by volunteer AA members (and friends) to assist (and as a tribute to) Sister Ignatia. The insignia on the door, “R.H.S.”, coincided with the initials of Robert Holbrook Smith. It was Sister Ignatia’s dedication as a memorial to Dr. Bob. (SI 185-187, 309)
1953 Apr., 3rd experimental General Service Conference in NYC. Its theme was “We are Standing on the Threshold of Maturity.” (NG 130) It recommended that:
Approval be given to plans of the trustees for changing the name of the Alcoholic Foundation to a new designation using “Alcoholics Anonymous” coupled with a suitable word, that word not be “international.” (Floor action)
Alcoholics Anonymous not be incorporated by Congressional action. (Floor action)
No policy should be declared or action taken on matters liable to gravely affect AA as a whole unless by consent of at least three-quarters of the members present. A mere majority should not authorize action. (Floor action) (Reaffirmed in 1954)
Jan., the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions was published. (GTBT 37)
Works Publishing Inc. was renamed to AA Publishing Inc. (NG 68)
1954 Jan. 18 (20?), Hank P. died in Pennington, NJ. (CBC)
Feb. 2, Bill W. declined an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Yale University. (LOH 206)
Feb. 14, Bill’s father, Gilman Barrows Wilson, died penniless in Vancouver. (BW-40 10, BW-FH 198)
Apr., 4th experimental General Service Conference in NYC. Its theme was “Confidence and Responsibility.” (NG 130) It recommended that:
All Conference-approved literature have on its face an identifying symbol. (Note: circle & triangle)
The AA Exchange Bulletin (now called Box 4-5-9) be approved.
The publication rights of Twenty-Four Hours a Day not be accepted. (floor action)
The trustees be authorized to change the name of The Alcoholic Foundation to the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous Inc. (floor action) (SM S12)
Sept. 17, Bill D., (AA Number 3) died. (LOH 360)
Oct., the Alcoholic Foundation was renamed to the General Service Board of AA (AACOA viii, NG 131)
May, Bill W. engaged in a series of correspondence with notorious murderer Caryl Chessman who was on San Quentin prison death row. (Note; PIO shows 1956) (PIO 364-366, BW=FH 198-199)
1955 Apr., 5th experimental General Service Conference in St. Louis, MO. This GSC was the only one not held in NYC. (SM S2) It recommended that:
· The proposed permanent “Charter of the General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous – North American Section” be adopted subject to approval of the 20th Anniversary Convention of AA. (Floor action). (SM S17-S18)
· A plan for selecting Class B trustees be approved. (Note: this was the first move to establishing Regions – the initial geographical groupings were called Area A thru Area E)
July, 20th anniversary and 2nd International Convention at St. Louis, MO in the Kiel Auditorium. Est. attendance 5,000. Its theme was “Coming of Age.” (BW-RT 311, AACOA viii, GTBT 42-51, NG 131, SM S2) (Bill claimed attendance was 5,000 – Nell Wing, GTBT 105, was told by Dennis, who handled registrations that attendance was 3,100 plus a few hundred walk-ins) It recommended that:
· July 3, by resolution, the Three Legacies of Recovery, Unity and Service were turned over to the movement by its old-timers. The resolution was adopted by the Convention by acclamation and by the Conference by formal resolution by vote. (SM S91-S92)
July, the 2nd edition of Alcoholics Anonymous was published.
Aug. 29, Bill W. joined with Aldous Huxley and took LSD in CA under the guidance of Gerald Heard and Sidney Cohen. Others invited to experiment (and who accepted) were Nell Wing, Father Ed Dowling, Sam Shoemaker and Lois. Marty M. and Helen W. (Bill’s mistress) also participated in NY. Bill had several experiments with LSD up to 1959 (perhaps into the 1960’s). (PIO 370-376, NG 136-137, BW-FH 9, 177-179, GTBT 81-82)
Distribution of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reached 300,000. (BW-FH 120)
1956 Apr., 6th GSC recommended that:
· Approving continuation of the present structure of the Board of Trustees of AA (8 non-alcoholic members and 7 alcoholic members). It marked the start of a 10 year campaign by Bill to change the ratio of the Board to a majority of alcoholics. (PIO 393-397)
Creation of the first overseas General Service Board of AA in Great Britain and Ireland.
Apr., 7th GSC recommended that:
· The General Service Headquarters designate Thanksgiving Week as “AA Gratitude Week.”
· No change in Article 12 of the [Conference] Charter or in AA tradition or in the Twelve Steps of AA may be made with less than the written consent of three-quarters of the AA groups …” (SM S87)
· The Conference approved a unique new set of by-laws for the General Service Board which had earlier been adopted by the board itself on a contingency basis. (floor action)
Apr. 22, new bylaws, written by Bernard B. Smith, were adopted by the General Service Board. (Note: the alcoholic Class B trustees were legalistically described as “ex-alcoholic”). (SM S102-S109)
Oct., AA Comes of Age was published.
Estimated AA membership in 1957: over 200,000 in 7,000 groups in 70 countries and U.S. possessions.
1958 Apr. 28, Bill W. presented a talk to the New York City Medical Society on Alcoholism.
Apr., 8th GSC recommended that:
· In regard to the attitude of the movement as a whole toward the use of so-called AA “chips”, “tokens”, “lapel emblems” and similar devices … was a matter for local autonomy and not one on which the Conference should record a definite position in behalf of the movement. (floor action)
· The Conference voted unanimously to ask Bill W. to provide continuing leadership on all projects of movement-wide concern in which he was currently interested. (floor action)
· The Conference approved the action of the GSB in re-assigning to Bill royalty rights in his three books (Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and Alcoholics Comes of Age), and in books he may write in the future, for the duration of the copyrights involved. (floor action)
· The suggestion of the name change from General Service Headquarters to General Service Office be adopted.
· The Conference recognize the original use of the word “honest” before “desire to stop drinking” and its deletion from the Traditions as part of the evolution of the AA movement. Any change to be left to the discretion of AA Publishing, Inc.
Oct. The Days of Wine and Roses premiered on Playhouse 90 TV. (CBC)
Grapevine subscriptions were 40,000 (LOH 158).
1959 Apr., 9th GSC recommended that:
· Delegates speaking from the floor limit themselves to 3 minutes.
AA Publishing, Inc. was renamed to AA World Services, Inc. (AAWS).
Grapevine subscriptions were 35,000 (LOH 396).
1960 E.M. Jellinek published The Disease Concept of Alcoholism. (NG 312)
Apr., Bill W. declined the opportunity to be on the cover of Time magazine. (CBC)
Apr. 3, Father Edward Dowling SJ, died in Memphis, TN. (LOH 364)
Apr., 10th GSC:
July 1-3, 25th anniversary and 3rd International Convention at Long Beach, CA. Est. attendance 10,000.
1961 Frank Buchman died. Moral Re-Armament (MRA) declined significantly in numbers and influence and became headquartered in Caux, Switzerland where it still exists. (NW 45, 97-98, www)
Jan. 23, Bill W. wrote a letter to Dr. Carl Gustav Jung which acknowledged his contribution to the movement. (NW 9, PIO 381-386)
Jan. 30, Dr. Jung replied to Bill’s letter. (NW 11)
Apr., 11th GSC recommended that:
· The Birthday Plan to provide “supplementary” support to AAWS be adopted and continued.
· It was the sense of the meeting that no action be taken by the 1961 Conference on the proposal for a paperback edition of the Big Book. (floor action)
· (The Conference recognizes that the publication of cheap editions of AA books would probably reduce the income to World Services, and Bill W’s personal income. This Conference unanimously suggests the following to the Trustees: To add a rider to Bill’s royalty contract to the effect that, if cheaper books are ever published, Bill’s royalties be increased by an amount sufficient to keep the royalty income at the same average level it had been for the five years before the cheaper books were published; (further that) as time goes on, if inflation erodes the purchasing power of this income, the Trustees will adjust the royalties to produce the same approximate purchasing power; this to be effective during the lifetime of Bill and Lois and Bill’s legatees. (Floor action).
Provision was made for Ebby T. to receive $200 a month from Big Book royalties for the remainder of his life. (PIO 393)
Mar. 20, Bill W. replied to Jung’s letter (PIO 384)
May 15, Bill Wilson’s mother, Emily, died. (PIO 387)
June. 6, Dr. Carl Gustav Jung died. (PIO 386)
First Al-Anon World Service Conference held on a trial basis. (AFG pamphlet AR-2)
Estimated AA membership in 1961: 160,000 members in 9,000 groups (BW-FH 203)
1962 Apr. 26, 12th GSC recommended that:
· The Conference voted unanimously to accept Bill’s manuscript on Twelve Concepts for World Service and recommended that it be distributed initially as a supplement to, and eventually as an integral part of, the Third Legacy Manual. (floor action) (Note: this the only AA publication which has a by-line name, i.e. “by Bill W.”). (GTBT 60, 79, SM preface to Twelve Concepts)
· Bill’s proposal to change the ratio of the GSB was voted down. (GTBT 79)
The film Days of Wine and Roses premiered. (BW-FH 229)
1963 The U.S. and Canada General Service structure was organized into 6 Regions. (AACOA x)
Apr., 13th GSC recommended that:
· There is no such thing as an AA retreat.
· An agreement between Bill W., co-founder, and AAWS Inc., covering royalties derived from Bill’s writings be approved. (Note: Bill made a royalty agreement with AAWS that allowed him to bequest his royalties to Lois and Lois, in turn, to bequest the royalties to “approved beneficiaries” of her estate. Bill’s royalties derived from the U.S. sales of the Big Book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, AA Comes of Age and As Bill Sees It. His royalty agreement also provided that 10% of his royalties go to his mistress, Grapevine Editor, Helen W.) (PIO 393, BW-FH 192-193)
· The Conference approve the action of the GSB of Trustees in making a special monthly grant to Ebby T., the man who helped co-founder Bill W. achieve sobriety and who was indirectly responsible for the creation of the AA Fellowship. (floor action)
Oct. 22, E. M. Jellinek died. (CBC)
Oct. 31, Dr. Sam Shoemaker died. In a Feb. 1967 memorial Grapevine article, Bill W. wrote “Dr. Sam Shoemaker was one of AA’s indispensable. Had it not been for his ministry to us in our early times, our Fellowship would not be in existence today.” (NW 56, GTBT 97)
1964 Apr., 14th GSC
Apr., 15th GSC recommended that:
· A small edition of Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to be introduced at the 30th Anniversary Convention be approved.
July 2-4, 30th anniversary and 4th International Convention at Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Est. attendance 10,500. Keynote “The Declaration.” The declaration was AA’s responsibility pledge: “I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that I am responsible.” The film Bill’s Own Story was shown for the first time. (NG 142)
Dec., Bill enthusiastically embraced a campaign to promote a vitamin B3 (niacin, aka nicotinic acid) therapy. This created Traditions issues within the Fellowship. (PIO 388-390)
1966 Mar. 26, Ebby T. died (of emphysema). He had 2 ½ years sobriety. (LOH 367, EBBY 143, PIO 336)
Apr. 1, Sister Mary Ignatia Gavin died. (LOH 371, SI 280)
Apr., 16th GSC recommended that:
· The restructure plan of the GSB be approved changing the board into a body of 14 AA (Class B) and 7 non-alcoholic (Class A) trustees. (floor action) (AACOA x, PIO 396-397)
· The General Service Board consist of 8 regional AA trustees, six from the U.S., two from Canada. Also, 6 “General service” Class B trustees (chosen for business skill) – 4 from the NY City area, one from Canada, one from anywhere in the U.S. (floor action)
Dr. Harry M. Tiebout died. (LOH 369)
1967 The AA Way of Life, now titled As Bill Sees It, was published.
Apr., 17th GSC recommended that:
· Guidelines for group separation of AA and Al-Anon be approved.
· The Serenity Prayer be incorporated into the format of The Grapevine.
GSC recommended that all inquiries pertaining to vitamin B3 (niacin) be referred to an office in Pleasantville, NY in order that Bill’s personal interest in these matters not involve the Fellowship. (PIO 391)
1968 Jan. 24, Bill and Lois celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. (LR 159)
Apr., 18th GSC.
First AA membership survey taken. (NG 273)
1969 Apr., 19th GSC recommended that:
· The Conference approve the recommendations to incorporate into the existing AA Guidelines the questions on how AA and Al-Anon can cooperate with regard to central offices and area and regional get-together and conventions. (Floor action) (By floor action, the Conference also approved a resolution of gratitude to AFG)
Oct. 9, first World Service Meeting held in NYC with delegates from 14 countries.
1970 Apr., 20th GSC recommended that:
· It go on record as opposing the use of the title “AA Counselor.” (floor action)
Apr., GSO moved to 468 Park Ave. South in NYC. (PIO 399)
July, 35th anniversary and 5th International Convention at Miami Beach, FL. Est. attendance 10,700 (13,000?) Keynote was “Declaration of Unity”: "This we owe to AA's future: to place our common welfare first; to keep our Fellowship united. For on AA Unity depend our lives and the lives of those to come.” It was Bill’s last public appearance. (NG 145-146)
Summer, long-time AA Trustee Bernard B, Smith died. (NG 392)
Dec., Lois’ brother Rogers died (he introduced Lois to Bill). (GTBT 85)
1971 Jan. 24, William Griffith Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, 36 years sober, died (of emphysema, although sometimes described as heart failure) at Miami Beach, FL. It is also his and Lois’ 53rd wedding anniversary. (BW-FH 5)
Apr., 21st GSC recommended that:
· The short form of the Twelve Concepts be approved. (floor action)
Estimated AA membership in 1971: 311,450 members in 16,459 groups. (PIO 406, NG 267)
1972 Nell Wing was appointed the first AA Archivist. (GTBT 132)
Apr., 22nd GSC recommended that:
· The Twenty-Four Hour Book not be confirmed as Conference-approved literature.
· That GSO should not accept contributions from clubs ... (floor action)
· In accordance with AA’s Tradition of self-support, the Conference voted unanimously that AA not accept “Stepping Stones” property (the home of Bill and Lois W.) for any purpose. (floor action) (NG 263)
Oct. 5, 2nd World Service Meeting held in NY.
1973 Apr., 23rd GSC.
Came to Believe was published.
AA Archives opened at the General Service Office. (SM S73) (Note GTBT and NG say 1975)
The Trustees of the General Service Board formed an Archives Committee. (NG 294) (Note: SM S73 says AA Archives opened at GSO) Its first meeting was on Oct. 24. Its members were Chairperson George C., Rev. Lee Belford and Dr. Milton Maxwell. (GTBT 134-135)
Distribution of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reached the 1 million mark. The millionth copy was presented to President Richard Nixon in the Whitehouse. (NG 267, BW-FH 113)
Apr., 24th GSC recommended that:
· A short form of the Twelve Concepts for World Service for inclusion in the AA Service Manual. (SM preface to Twelve Concepts).
1975 Apr., 25th GSC recommended that:
· GSO discontinue distribution of the “Bill W.” book (the biography published by Harper & Row). (floor action)
· We go forward with mini-conferences and provide them as often as possible, and that these be held at the request of the region. The sense of the meeting was that for the time being the regional meetings be known as AA Regional Forums. (Floor action)
Living Sober was published. (Note: the book today is the 2nd highest publication in AA)
July, 40th anniversary and 6th International Convention held at Denver, CO. Est. attendance 19,300. Keynote “Let it Begin With Me.” The first flag ceremony was held at this convention. (AACOA xi)
Sept. 19, Jack Alexander died. (CBC)
Nov. 3, AA Archives formally opened in NYC. (NG 294, GTBT 140) (Note SM S73 says 1973)
1976 Apr., 26th GSC.
Publication of the 3rd edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.
1977 Apr., 27th GSC.
Grapevine subscriptions reached 100,000.
1978 Apr., 28th GSC.
Distribution of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reached the 2 million mark. (NG 267)
1979 Apr., 29th GSC.
Summer, Not-God A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, by Ernest Kurtz, was published. (NG, CBC)
Dec. 6, Henrietta Sieberling died. (CBC)
1980 Apr., 30th GSC recommended that:
· That the Archives film Strip Markings on the Journey be Conference-approved (floor action)
· The filmstrip Markings on the Journey be shown within the Fellowship only (floor action)
· The unedited manuscript of Dr. Bob and the Good Old-timers be accepted.
July, 45th Anniversary and 7th International Convention held at New Orleans, LA. Est. attendance 22,500. Keynote “The Joy of Living.” First presentation of the Archives film Markings on the Journey. (NG 290) The first Archives Workshop was held at this convention. (GTBT 141)
July 22, Marty M., founder of the National Committee on the Education on Alcoholism, died. (CBC)
1981 Feb., 1st issue of Markings, the AA Archives newsletter. (CBC)
Apr., 31st GSC recommended that:
· The AA Service Manual and Twelve Concepts for World Service be combined into one volume.
Distribution of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reached the 3 million mark. (NG 267)
1982 Apr., 32nd GSC.
Dec., Nell Wing retired as AA Archivist and was replaced by Frank M. (GTBT 141, CBC)
1983 Apr., 33rd GSC recommended that:
· Membership surveys be continued on a random basis.
Distribution of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reached the 4 million mark. (NG 268)
1984 Apr. 16-21, 34th GSC recommended that:
· The Bill Wilson biography be approved with the title Pass It On.
1985 Apr. 14-20, 35th GSC recommended that:
· Since each issue of The Grapevine cannot go through the Conference-approved process, the Conference recognizes The AA Grapevine as the international journal of Alcoholics Anonymous. (Note: shows wording amendments made in 1986)
AAWS discovered that the copyrights to the 1st and 2nd editions of the Big Book had expired without being renewed. The copyright on the 1st first edition lapsed in 1967 and the copyright on the new material in the 2nd edition lapsed in 1983. (NG 299)
July, 50th anniversary and 8th International Convention held at Montreal, Canada Est. attendance 44,000.
The second Archives Workshop was held at this Convention. Ruth Hock Crecelius was the featured speaker. (GTBT 141) and was presented with the 5 millionth copy of the Big Book at the Convention. (CBC)
As part of the festivities surrounding AA’s 50th anniversary, Stepping Stones, the Wilson’s home since 1941, was declared a NY State Historic Site. (BW-FH 3)
Distribution of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reached the 5 million mark. (NG 268)
Estimated AA membership in 1985: 1,000,000. (BW-FH 211)
1986 Apr. 20-26, 36th GSC recommended that:
· A definitive book on AA history from 1955 to 1985 be prepared and brought to the 1987 Conference for consideration.
· The 1987 Conference Policy/Admissions Committee consider the formation of a Conference Archives Committee. (floor action)
Sept. 12-16, First permanent International Al-Anon General Services Meeting. (AFG pamphlet AR-2)
Nov., First paperback edition of the Big Book published. (NG 301, CBC)
1987 Apr. 26-May 2, 37th GSC recommended that:
· A Conference Archives Committee not be formed at this time (trustee’s Archives Committee only)
· No changes or additions be made to the preamble.
· Statements regarding AA’s primary purpose be available (blue card definitions of open and closed meetings).
· Undertaking the development of a daily reflections book.
· A report on the progress of The History of AA: 1955 - 1985 book be made to the 1988 GSC. (floor action)
Estimated AA Membership in 1987: 1,556,316 members in 73,192 groups (NG 267)
Distribution of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reached the 6 million mark. (NG 268)
1988 Apr. 17-23, 38th GSC recommended that:
· Work continue on the AA history book, and that this be subject to further editing through the coordinating efforts of each regional trustee with each delegate for further updating, corrections, and additional information.
Oct. 5, Lois Burnham Wilson, co-founder of Al-Anon Family Groups, died at 97 years of age.
Oct., Language of the Heart published by AA Grapevine Inc. (GTBT 57, LOH)
1989 Apr. 23-29, 39th GSC recommended that:
· Work continue on a definitive book on AA history from 1955, as recommended by the 1986 GSC, along the lines of a proposal recently submitted to the trustee’s Literature Committee, which focuses on major events and developments since the co-founder turned AA over to the Fellowship, rather than focusing on the beginning of AA and the history of the 91 areas of the U.S. and Canada.
· The Grapevine develop an ongoing AA history section, drawing on archival material, including area and regional histories.
· A Conference Archives Committee should not be formed at this time. …
Apr. 24, Dr. Leonard V. Strong died. (CBC)
Apr. 30, the film My Name is Bill W. premiered on ABC TV’s Hallmark Hall of Fame. (CBC)
1990 Life magazine named Bill W. among the 100 most important figures of the 20th century. (BW-FH 4)
Apr. 22-28, 40th GSC recommended that:
· The AA History book project continue until completion, and that the time frame covered be expanded to include 1955 to the present.
July, 55th anniversary and 9th International Convention held at Seattle, WA. Est. attendance 48,000. Nell Wing was presented with the 10 millionth copy of the Big Book. (Note PIO 206 says 10 millionth copy printed Mar 1991)
1991 Mar., distribution of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reached the 10 million mark. (PIO 206)
Apr. 21-27, 41st GSC recommended that:
· The AA History book project continue until completion, and that a manuscript be forwarded to the 1992 Conference Literature Committee for consideration and approval.
1992 Apr. 26-May 2, 42nd GSC recommended that:
· That the new AA History Book manuscript be returned to the 1992 Conference Literature Committee for further review and then forwarded to the 1993 Conference Literature Committee.
The General service Office moved to 475 Riverside Dr. in NYC. (SM S10)
1993 Apr. 18-24, 43rd GSC recommended that:
· The AA History Book project be deferred for two years so that a new team of AA servants can look at the History Book with fresh ideas.
1994 Apr. 17-23, 44th GSC recommended that:
· The circle and triangle logo be discontinued on all Conference-approved literature.
· The 1987 GSC action item to not establish a Conference Archives Committee be reaffirmed.
1995 Apr. 30-May 6, 45th GSC recommended that:
· A Spanish language version of The Grapevine, named La Viña, be published.
· The first 164 pages of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, the Preface, the Forewords, ‘The Doctor’s Opinion’, ‘Doctor Bob’s Nightmare’ and the Appendices remain as is.
July, 60th anniversary and 10th International Convention held at San Diego, CA. Est. attendance?
1996 Apr. 21-27, 46th GSC recommended that:
· The suggested guidelines developed by the trustee’s Nominating Committee for changing regional boundaries be accepted. … (SM S39)
June, first issue of La Viña published on a bi-monthly basis. (SM S81-S82)
1997 Apr. 13-19, 47th GSC recommended that:
· A draft 4th edition Big Book be developed keeping in mind the 1995 Advisory Action.
1998 Apr. 19-25, 48th GSC recommended that:
· Formation of an Archives Committee as a secondary committee. (SM S57)
· A Conference Archives Committee composed of nine delegates (5 from Panel 48 and 4 from Panel 49) meet at the 49th GSC as a secondary committee assignment and that the committee meet jointly with the Trustee’s Archives Committee.
· Continuing development of the draft 4th edition Big Book keeping in mind the 1995 Advisory Action.
1999 Apr. 18-24, 49th GSC recommended that:
· The Trustee’s Archives Committee review the Archives Handbook and consider the need for any changes and/or an Archives Kit.
2000 Apr 30-May 6, 50th GSC.
July, 65th anniversary and 11th International Convention held at Minneapolis, MN. Est. attendance 50,000.
2001 Apr. 22-28, 51st GSC.
Archives WORKBOOK published as a service piece.
Nov. 1, 4th edition of Alcoholics Anonymous published. It contained 24 new personal stories. (GSO)
Estimated AA membership in 2001: 2,215,000 members in 100,000 groups. (GSO)
Estimated AFG membership in 2001: 600,000 members in 26,500 groups. (AFG pamphlet AR-2)
Distribution of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reached the 22 million mark. (NG 268)
2002 Apr. 21-27, 52nd GSC.
Feb. 9, death of Sue Smith Windows, Dr. Bob's and Anne’s adopted daughter.
2003 Apr. 27-May 3, 53rd GSC.
2004 Apr. 18-24, 54th GSC.