Aa history Lovers 2006 moderators Nancy Olson and Glenn F. Chesnut page

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It's fair game to talk about whether alcoholics involved in AA history

(including those who were not AA members, but with whom we were in

contact, like Ebby Thacher and Rowland Hazard, and the people involved

in the Jacoby Club, which heavily influenced early Boston AA) were

able to find a solution to their drinking problem, either IN or OUT of

It's fair game to ask how well early AA worked in fact, and also how

well some of the other systems worked in fact (like the Oxford Group,

the Emmanuel Movement and Jacoby Club, and Peabody's method) to see

why the early AA people decided to discard some of the principles

involved in those other groups.

Otherwise, we would NOT be honest historians, and would in fact be

running a shill for AA.

At that point, someone else wrote in and said, don't say things like

that about Peabody if you can't prove it, otherwise it's the worst

kind of malicious gossip mongering.
And the person who originally wrote that, who is an honest historian,

had to admit that he was stating something that he did not know for a

one hundred per cent guaranteed fact, although there was some

significant supporting evidence.

So our AA historians have been checking that question out, simply to

establish what the facts were here. And the answer at this point

seems to be that we cannot know all of the facts surrounding Peabody's

last days for sure, and that there may in fact have even been

ameliorating circumstances (medical doctors sometimes prescribed small

amounts of alcohol for heart patients in that period of history, as

they did for my grandfather, who was not an alcoholic, during his last

years, which was during the 1950's).

So it is unfortunate that we cannot necessarily come up with a one

hundred percent guaranteed answer to this particular question, but

that is the nature of all real historical research. Not all

historical questions can be answered with one hundred percent

certainty. A good professional historian has to know, not only what

we DO know for a fact, but what we do NOT know for an absolute fact.

Nevertheless, we CAN say that we do not have much (if any) reliable

data supporting the assertion that the Peabody method was a very

workable method of dealing with alcoholism. And we can say that, in

spite of the popularity of his book among the general public at that

time, it wasn't going to be a real winner when it came to effectively

dealing with the problem of alcoholism in the United States (where it

was then, and still is, the third leading cause of death). That's why

nobody tries to use the Peabody method any more.

My own very rough observations are that, out of all the alcoholics

whom I have known who obtained a five year survival rate (five years

of unbroken sobriety), around 1% did that by will power alone

(essentially the Peabody method), around 1% did that by going to a

conservative evangelical church and reading the Bible and praying to

Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and the other 98% get sober in AA.

More alcoholics by far get sober in AA than by any other way, but I

know of no sensible observer (including all of the people who

regularly contribute to this web group) who would deny that the other

two methods also sometimes work.

At the present stage of research, it seems clear that Peabody's book,

in spite of the fact that it was very widely read and very popular for

a while, stopped being read and used because it simply didn't work

very well, if at all. And the evidence surrounding Peabody's drinking

during his own last years gives us at least no unambiguous evidence

that the system worked for him either.

On the basic issue, the fact is that almost nothing in the AA program

was totally invented by the early AA people themselves. Almost

everything in the AA program originally came from somewhere else, and

had been said by somebody else before. So a decent history of early

AA will be forced to write about the earlier attempts to deal with

alcoholism in the United States from which the early AA people learned

either (a) good ideas which they could borrow or (b) bad ideas which

they needed to leave out of their new AA program if they wanted it to

be as successful as possible.
So we have no choice, when writing a full account of early AA history,

but to write at least a little about things like the Oxford Group;

the Emmanuel Movement and the Jacoby Club; Rowland Hazard and Carl

Jung; Peabody's book; neo-Freudian psychiatrists like Adler;

representatives of the New Thought movement like Emmet Fox and James

Allen ( http://hindsfoot.org/kML3rc1.html ); and other ideas and

movements of the early twentieth century.
These become of interest to AA historians when it is clear that they

had an effect on the way early AA people thought and believed.

But those members of the group who are not interested in these things,

and who want to focus solely on working out the dates and facts

surrounding the lives of early AA members and early AA publications,

should just delete these messages about the background to early AA.

That's the advantage of being in a web group, as opposed to having to

sit through a long conference, when one of the speakers spends a half

hour ranting about something you aren't the slightest bit interested

in (and anyway, you don't LIKE the jerk, he's obnoxious).

Hit the delete button!
But there is NO WAY that anyone could post messages for a group of

over 1400 people all around the world, and guarantee that each

individual member will NEVER see a message posted that he or she finds

uninteresting (grin).

Heck, I've seen strings of messages posted on this web site on certain

occasions on things that I personally thought were unbelievably

pedantic and boring, but some of the other members of the group found

that topic fascinating, and since they are members of the group in

good standing, they have their rights too.
In the list of topics at the beginning of my heavily used and well

worn copy of "As Bill Sees It: The A.A. Way of Life ... selected

writings of A.A.'s cofounder" (23rd printing,

1989) there is a long list of reading on the topic of "tolerance"


other members of the program, warts and all (grin).

Glenn C. (South Bend, Indiana)
Yahoo! Groups Links
++++Message 3684. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: First World Conference


From: Shakey1aa@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 9/5/2006 10:01:00 PM
I believe part of what you are looking for is

Bill's address entitled "We Come of Age"

Cleveland July 28-30,1950

by Bill
His presentation is 13 pages long and if

anyone wants it I will mail it to you( free of

charge) if you will provide me with your address

or if you e-mail me and I'll scan it and e-mail

it to you. Freely given and freely received.


(Shakey1aa at aol.com)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

[NOTE FROM THE MODERATOR: Please e-mail Mike

directely at the above e-mail address. We don't

have a "forward" button on the Yahoo group

system Pending Message board, which means that

otherwise, I have to copy out your message and

then paste it in Notepad, and then copy it out

a second time and put it in an e-mail from me

to that person, which makes things unnecessarily

complicated. Thanks! Back to Mike's message.]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Our archives are a much cherished commodity.

This puts a price on them. I am against making

money off our history. It makes for the legitimate

AA repositories being excluded because we ask

for donations and many are unwilling to turn

over our history to us when the almighty dollar

is concerned.
I'm also against legitimate AA archives

restricting information/or access to AA members.

Any donated AA history should be available

to any alcoholic. No one should have the right

to restrict its use(only exception is if the

person who donates it restricts its use).

Going soon to Baton Rouge,

Shakey Mike Gwirtz

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3685. . . . . . . . . . . . 1st International Conference

From: Shakey1aa@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 9/5/2006 10:27:00 PM

I have a tentative program and flyer from that

historic conference. It is interesting to note

that the flyer indicates that it was being

"sponsored by the pioneer groups ... Akron,

New York, and Cleveland" ( I didn't know those

three cities were referred to in that way.)

Registration was $1.50 and banquet tickets were

$5.00. For baseball tickets, reserved seats

were $1.50 and box seats $2.00.
The flyer also stated that "This event is rapidly

snowballing into what, from all present indications,

will prove to be the most important events in

all AA history."

(I guess that Bill meeting with Dr Bob was the

second most important date in AA history?)

Yours in Service,

(Still on the way to Baton Rouge and

then California, Oregon, and Washington)

Shakey Mike Gwirtz

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3686. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Why no amends to family on page


From: CBBB164@AOL.COM . . . . . . . . . . . . 9/6/2006 8:12:00 PM
Amends to the family are emphasized in the first

paragraph on page 83 as well as in other sections

of our Basic Text.
In God's love and service,
Cliff Bishop

Home - (214) 350-1190

Cell - (214) 532-5371

FAX - (214) 350-1190



In a message dated 9/5/2006,

cmpvandango@yahoo.co.uk writes:

Steps Eight and Nine, making amends:
Big Book 4th edition pg 76 chapter "Into Action."
"Probably there are still some misgivings. As we

look over the list of business acquaintances and

friends we have hurt, we feel diffident about

going to some of them on a spiritual basis....."

My home group has a question regarding the above

paragraph and have asked for the AA History lovers'

views and opinions. Why in this paragraph is there

no mention made of making amends to members of our

families whom we may have harmed?
Many thanks
Carl P
Barking Big Book Study (The Way Out)
From the moderator: for our members in other

parts of the world, the London Borough of Barking

and Dagenham is in England, located in the County

of Greater London on the eastern side.

Yahoo! Groups Links
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3687. . . . . . . . . . . . Jimmy B. Grapevine Article (1968)

From: Bill Lash . . . . . . . . . . . . 9/6/2006 11:24:00 PM

Sober for Thirty Years

One of the earliest members of the first New York AA group, he was also its

first "self-proclaimed atheist"
As NOTED in my story, "The Vicious Cycle," in the Big Book, I came

into the

Fellowship in New York in January, 1938. At that time it was just leaving

the Oxford Group. There was one closed discussion meeting a week, at Bill's

home in Brooklyn - attendance six or eight men, with only three members who

had been sober more than one year: Bill, Hank, and Fritz. This is about all

that had been accomplished in the four years with the New York Oxford Group.
During those early meetings at Bill's, they were flying blind, with no creed

or procedure to guide them, though they did use quite a few of the Oxford

sayings and the Oxford Absolutes. Since both Bill and Dr. Bob had had

almost-overnight religious experiences, it was taken for granted that all

who followed their way would have the same sort of experience. So the early

meetings were quite religious, in both New York and Akron. There was always

a Bible on hand, and the concept of God was all biblical.
Into this fairly peaceful picture came I, their first self-proclaimed

atheist, completely against all religions and conventions. I was the captain

of my own ship. (The only trouble was, my ship was completely disabled and

rudderless.) So naturally I started fighting nearly all the things Bill and

the others stood for, especially religion, the "God bit." But I

did want to

stay sober, and I did love the understanding Fellowship. So I became quite a

problem to that early group, with my constant haranguing against all the

spiritual angles.
All of a sudden, the group became really worried. Here I had stayed sober

five whole months while fighting everything the others stood for. I was now

number four in "seniority." I found out later they had a prayer

meeting on

"what to do with Jim." The consensus seemed to have been that they

hoped I

would either leave town or get drunk.
That prayer must have been right on target, for I was suddenly taken drunk

on a sales trip. This became the shock and the bottom I needed. At this time

I was selling auto polish to jobbers for a company that Bill and Hank were

sponsoring, and I was doing pretty well, too. But despite this, I was tired

and completely isolated there in Boston. My fellow alcoholics really put the

pressure on as I sobered up after four days of no relief, and for the first

time I admitted I couldn't stay sober alone. My closed mind opened a bit.

Those folks back in New York, the folks who believed, had stayed sober. And

I hadn't. Since this episode I don't think I have ever argued with anyone

else's beliefs. Who am I to say?

I finally crawled back to New York and was soon back in the fold. About this

time, Bill and Hank were just beginning to write the AA Big Book. I do feel

sure my experience was not in vain, for "God" was broadened to

cover all

types and creeds: "God as we understood Him."
I feel my spiritual growth over these past thirty years has been very

gradual and steady. I have no desire to "graduate" from AA. I try

to keep my

memories green by staying active in AA - a couple of meetings weekly.

For the new agnostic or atheist just coming in, I will try to give very

briefly my milestones in recovery:

The first power I found greater than myself was John Barleycorn.

The AA Fellowship became my higher power for the first two years.

Gradually, I came to believe that God and Good were synonymous and were to

be found in all of us.

And I found that by meditating and trying to tune in on my better Self for

guidance and answers, I became more comfortable and steady.


San Diego, California

AA Grapevine, May 1968
++++Message 3688. . . . . . . . . . . . AA in Great Britain and Ireland:

significant dates

From: ArtSheehan . . . . . . . . . . . . 9/7/2006 9:45:00 AM
Sally Cousins in Bristol, England, suggested an important

date for our Significant September Dates in AA History.

One thing that I believe might be even more historically significant

occurred in 1957. The first overseas General Service Board of AA in

Great Britain and Ireland was established. It's a huge milestone in

the history of the "internationalization" of the General Service

Structure and national autonomy. See AA Comes of Age pg ix - it gives

the year but not the month.

Perhaps our Archives friends in the UK can find out the specific date

when the UK/Ireland board was chartered.


-----Original Message-----

On Behalf Of Bristol Fashion

Sent: Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Subject: Significant September dates in A.A. History
Can you fit the following date in somewhere?
Sept 1971 First European Convention, Bristol, England

Sally Cousins

++++Message 3689. . . . . . . . . . . . APOAR and Robert Emmett Rack

From: Shakey1aa@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 9/5/2006 10:14:00 PM

Is anyone familiar with APOAR(Applied Principles

of Alcoholic Recovery) by Robert Emmett Rack and

if it is still being used in Prisons and Institutions?
I'm not in "the field" but have looked at what he

has written and wonder about its success.

Shakey Mike Gwirtz
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3690. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: 1st International Conference

From: ArtSheehan . . . . . . . . . . . . 9/9/2006 9:46:00 AM

Hi Mike
The program for the event (see one of the pages

attached) also describes Cleveland as "the birthplace

of our movement."
This was all part of Clarence Snyder's claim that

the Cleveland Group was the first to use the term

"Alcoholics Anonymous" to describe itself.
Based on my own research, this claim is false -

Bill W was using the term "Alcoholics Anonymous"

to describe the Fellowship nearly a year prior to

Clarence using it and well before the Cleveland Group

was started (it started shortly after the Big Book

was published). Clarence also liked to call himself

the "founder" of AA.

-----Original Message-----

Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 1:27 AM

From: Shakey1aa@aol.com (Shakey1aa at aol.com)

Subject: 1st International Conference
I have a tentative program and flyer from that

historic conference. It is interesting to note

that the flyer indicates that it was being

"sponsored by the pioneer groups ... Akron,

New York, and Cleveland" (I didn't know those

three cities were referred to in that way.)

Registration was $1.50 and banquet tickets

were $5.00. For baseball tickets, reserved

seats were $1.50 and box seats $2.00.
The flyer also stated that "This event is

rapidly snowballing into what, from all present

indications, will prove to be the most

important events in all AA history."

(I guess that Bill meeting with Dr Bob was the

second most important date in AA history?)

Yours in Service,

(Still on the way to Baton Rouge and

then California, Oregon, and Washington)

Shakey Mike Gwirtz

Please guys! Let's not get into a bitter fight

over "who was right" and "who was wrong."

As AA historians, we need to observe that there

was a major struggle within AA at one point in

the late 1940's and early 1950's, with a small

but very determined group of AA leaders struggling

to remove Bill Wilson and his close associates in

New York City from their position of dominance over

the AA movement.
Clarence Snyder, Henrietta Seiberling, Bill VanHorn,

Royal F. Shepard, and others were involved in this

AA "Orthodox Movement" during that time period.
Some of Bill W.'s crucial decisions in turn, during

that period, were directed towards countering their

influence. From Bill W.'s perspective, the greatest

peril which AA was in at that point, was the danger

of being fragmented into a number of warring

regional centers, including not only Cleveland but

also Texas, each one claiming to be the proper place

to serve as the international headquarters and

center of the worldwide movement. Bill W. was afraid

that this was going to produce a number of different

warring AA "sects" instead of a single AA fellowship,

with a single coherent basic philosophy and set of

organizational principles, for the entire world.
From the viewpoint of the Orthodox Movement, they

(and people in many other parts of the U.S. and

Canada) were being allowed little or no input into

the discussions among the little circle of people

in New York City who were making most of the

decisions at that time.

From the viewpoint of the Orthodox Movement, it

also seemed necessary to make clear that New

York City was not Rome, Bill W. was not the Pope,

and the people at the New York AA office did not

get to wear red robes like the Cardinals in the

The system of dividing AA into Areas which would

send Delegates to New York City was one of the

ideas that were subsequently developed to deal with

some of the legitimate complaints of the Orthodox

Movement. The system of moving the Internationals

around to different parts of the U.S. and Canada

every time they were held was another response to

AA people in places like Ohio and Texas who were

getting ready to take matters into their own hands,

if no one took their objections to over-centralization


Instead of getting over-diverted into disputes

over who first came up with the idea of calling the

movement "Alcoholics Anonymous," and why Bill W. was

the only major AA leader who did not work for a

living at an outside job, it is necessary to

remember the more important issues involved in that

set of historical disputes, which were very

important in the historical evolution of early AA.

The issues of local autonomy vs. central control

within the AA structure are still very much alive

today, and high feelings and angry words can still

explode quickly. The fundamental philosophical

issues involved in the dispute raised by the

Orthodox Movement in the 1940's and 50's were real

ones -- looking at what happened back then is not

just a study of the dead past.

For those who wish to know more about the Orthodox

Movement, Mitchell K. (author of "How It Worked: The

Story of Clarence H. Snyder and the Early Days of

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