The History of AA

Oxford Group Origins

1931 February

It’s the early 1930s, and Rowland H. from Rhode Island struggled with alcoholism and sought help from the world-renowned psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Jung told Rowland that nothing but a spiritual solution could cure him of his debilitating alcoholism. He suggested Rowland visit the Oxford Group, a Western religious movement that

Bill W.

1934 December

December 1934 and Bill W. is in the hospital again due to his chronic and debilitating alcoholism. This time, at the age of 39, something changed and Bill underwent a powerful spiritual experience. He finally stopped drinking and stayed sober by working the rest of his life to help others

Meeting Dr. Bob

1935 May

A woman, non-alcoholic, named Henrietta Sieberling and involved in the Oxford Group arranged for Bill W. to meet Dr. Bob.

Dr. Bob’s Last Drunk

1935 June

Dr. Bob has his last drink, a beer, after a binge in Atlantic City, NJ.

Non-Professional

1936 December

Bill W. is offered a job at a hospital, he would be given an office and all the resources he needed to set up a program for alcoholics. He ultimately rejected it, AA remained non-professional.

Alcoholics Anonymous

1937 June

The first recollection of the usage of the term “Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Big Book

1938 May

The writing of the book Alcoholics Anonymous (aka the Big Book) begins. It took until January of 1939 for the first draft to be completed.

Self-Supporting

1938 December

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. is introduced to AA by his friend Frank Amos. Amos asks Rockefeller to donate $50,000 but Rockefeller will only donate $5,000 because he believes AA ought to be self-supporting.

Women in AA

1941 May

Ethel M., joins the fellowship and gets sober in Akron, Ohio. She is one of the first female AA members.

Serenity Prayer

1941 June

The Serenity Prayer is incorporated into AA after members read it in a newspaper.

Grapevine

1944 June

The first issue of the AA Grapevine is printed, it becomes known as a “meeting in print” and eventually adopted as the official magazine of AA.

International

1946 August

AA goes international when the first AA group is formed in Dublin, Ireland.

Anonymity

1954 May

Bill W. is offered honorary degrees by multiple university, including Yale University. He declines them all, citing the AA tradition of anonymity.

Argentina

1954 October

Hector C., was treated by Dr. Roberto in 1952 who had taken a course on alcoholism in the US. Dr. Roberto introduced Hector to AA. Hector worked to bring AA to Argentina until his sudden death in October 1954. A small group was born from his effort and grew exponentially.

South America

1956 March

AA comes alive in Venezuela, first with a small ad in an English newspaper followed by the birth of Spanish-speaking groups.

French

1960 June

AA had been in France since 1949, but it was made up of Americans living in Paris. In 1960 the first French speaking group was founded in France.

Big Book Million

1973 February

The millionth copy of Alcoholics Anonymous is printed and given to President Nixon.

Living Sober

1975 June

Living Sober is published, providing insights on how to live while sober. Eventually becomes one of the most popular pieces of AA literature.

Young People

1977 September

A survey uncovers that AA members under 30 have become nearly 20% of the fellowship in North America. Worldwide trends are similar.

Spanish

1984 March

The General Service Office in NY hires a full-time Spanish Services staffer. Service materials and literature are translated to Spanish.

Cuba

1993 February

Mexico helps bring AA to Cuba by showing the Cuban government how the program has one purpose and has no other agenda or affiliations.

La Viña

1996 June

The Grapevine is published in Spanish as the bimonthly magazine, La Viña. Both original Spanish content and translated Grapevine content are in the magazine.