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A Narrative Timeline Of AA History

Public Version vApril 04'

1941 to 1944

A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003


Fitz M’s sister, Agnes (administrator of the Corcoran Art School, Washington DC) loaned Works Publishing Inc. $1,000 ($12,500 today) to pay Cornwall Press to release Big Books being held for payment. (BW-FH 92, AACOA 18)

Mar 1, Jack Alexander's Saturday Evening Post article was published. The publicity caused 1941 membership to jump from around 2,000 to 8,000. Bill and two other members’ pictures appeared full-face in the article. (AACOA viii, 35-36, 190-191, BW-RT 281, LOH 149-150, BW-FH 146, PIO 245-247) The article, led to over 6,000 appeals for help to be mailed to Box 658 for the NY Office to handle. (SM S7, PIO 249) The NY office asked groups to donate $1 ($12 today) per member for support of the office. This began the practice of financing the NY office operations from group donations. (AACOA 112, 192, LOH 149, SM S7)

Mar, the wording of Step Twelve changed in the second printing of the Big Book. The term “spiritual experience” was changed to “spiritual awakening” and “as the result of these steps” was changed to “as the result of those steps” (it was changed back to “these steps” in the second printing of the second Ed.).[5] Appendix II Spiritual Experience was added. The story Lone Endeavor (of Pat C from CA) was removed. (AACOA 256, www)

Apr 11, after 23 years of marriage, Bill W and Lois moved into their own home in Bedford Hills, NY. It was first named Bill-Lo’s Break and later renamed to Stepping Stones. The 7-room house was on 1.7 acres of land and financed at $6,500 ($81,000 today). The mortgage payment was $40 a month ($500 today). (BW-RT 284, PIO 259-260, MMM 337, WPR 66)

Nov, Dr Sam Shoemaker left the Oxford Group (then called Moral Re-Armament) and formed a fellowship named Faith at Work. MRA was asked to completely vacate the premises at Calvary House. Shoemaker’s dispute with Buchman was amplified in the press. (EBBY 75-76, AAGA 161, 244)

May 8, Ethel M (From Farm To City) was the first woman member in Akron, OH to sober up. (SI 131, AACOA 7)

Jun, Ruth Hock received a newspaper clipping of the Serenity Prayer from NY newspaperman, and member, Jack C It was from the obituary section of a Jun edition of the New York Herald Tribune. An older member, Horace C suggested printing the prayer on a card and sending it in mail going out from the NY office. Horace personally paid to have the cards printed. (BW-RT 261-262, GTBT 167, PIO 252, AACOA 196, WPR 79-80)

Nov, Margaret Farrand became the first woman on the Alcoholic Foundation Board. Also joining the board was Leonard Harrison. (GSO)

Dec 8, the US entered World War II.

With the possibility that he might be recalled to active duty in the Army, Bill suggested, based on his authorship of the Big Book that he be granted a royalty on book sales, as means of providing income for Lois. Bill was granted a 10% royalty and this, with one exception, became his sole source of income. The exception occurred sometime in the mid-1940’s where Bill’s income averaged $1,700 ($17,300 today) over seven years. The board made a grant to Bill of $1,500 for each of the seven years for a total of $10,500 ($107,100 today)[6] out of which Bill purchased his Bedford Hills house. (1951 GSC-FR 13)


Board Trustee A LeRoy Chipman asked John D Rockefeller Jr. and his 1940 dinner guests for $8,500 ($95,000 today) to buy back the remaining outstanding shares of Works Publishing Inc. stock. Rockefeller lent $4,000, his son Nelson $500 and the other dinner guests $4,000. Rockefeller’s custom was to forgive $1 of debt for each $1 repaid. The Rockefeller and dinner guest loans were repaid by 1945 out of Big Book income. (AACOA 189, BW-FH 110-111, SM S7, LOH 148, AACOA says $8,000)

Ruth Hock left the NY office to marry on Feb 28. Bobbie B took her place. (AACOA 16, 195-196, GTBT 168, PIO 304, LOH 152 says 1941)

Oct, Clarence S stirred up a controversy in Cleveland after discovering that Dr Bob and Bill W were receiving royalties from Big Book sales. (DBGO 267-269, BW-FH 153-154, AACOA 193-194) Bill and Dr Bob re-examined the problem of their financial status and concluded that royalties from the Big Book seemed to be the only answer to the problem. Bill sought counsel from Father Ed Dowling who suggested that Bill and Bob could not accept money for 12th Step work, but should accept royalties as compensation for special services. (AACOA 194-195, PIO 322-324)

With the help of San Francisco, CA members, and Warden Clinton T Duffy, the first AA prison group was established in a maximum-security prison at San Quentin Penitentiary. (AACOA viii, 89-90)

Correspondence from groups gave early signals of a need to develop guidelines to help with group problems that occurred repeatedly. The basic ideas for the Twelve Traditions emerged from this correspondence and the principles defined in the Foreword to the first Ed. of the Big Book. (AACOA 187, 192-193, 198, 204, PIO 305-306, LOH 154)

Oct, Volume 1, No. 1 of the Cleveland, OH Central Bulletin was published. (Cleveland Central Office)


Jul, the first summer session of the Yale U School of Alcohol Studies occurred. Prof. E M Jellinek (nicknamed “Bunky”) was its founder along with Dr Howard W Haggard. Bill W and Marty M lectured at the school. (GB 171, LOH 100 MMM 154) Jellinek was the first editor of the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol (in 1940) and later an alcoholism consultant to the World Health Organization. (LOH 188-190)

Oct 4, Fitz M died from cancer. (AACOA 18)

Nov 17, first meeting of the board as The Alcoholic Foundation, Inc. It was changed from a trust corporation to a membership corporation. Board membership was enlarged to nine. (GTBT 78)


The book The Lost Weekend by Charles R Jackson was published to rave reviews. The book described five days in the life of an alcoholic. It became a favorite in AA for its realistic portrayal of alcoholism. Jackson was a popular speaker at public AA meetings. A line in the book, admittedly borrowed from AA, was a bartender’s comment to its central character, alcoholic Don Birnam, about his drinking: “one drink is too many and a hundred not enough.” The book and Jackson were later discussed and lauded in the Grapevine. (Gv Jan 1945)

Dr Harry Tiebout published his first paper on AA. It was titled Therapeutic Mechanisms of Alcoholics Anonymous and appeared in the American Journal of Psychiatry. (HT 130)

Jan, the 6th printing of the first Ed. of the Big Book. The book’s physical dimensions were reduced to a more conventional size. However, it continued to be called the “Big Book.” (www)

Apr 1, Marty Mann moved to New Haven, CT to found the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism (NCEA). Its office initially resided at Yale U. Marty stayed with the Jellineks and attended the 1944 Yale Summer School. The office later moved to NYC in Oct Information on the NCEA was later published in the Grapevine along with an explanation on why Marty was breaking her anonymity. (MMM 164-165). The NCEA later became known as the National Committee on Alcoholism (NCA) and then later renamed the National Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (NCADD) (SD 186)

Apr 14, the Alcoholic Ward opened at St Thomas Hospital in Akron, OH. (SI 108)

May 1, the Vessey St office moved to 415 Lexington Ave, NY, 17, NY near the Grand Central Terminal. The new mailing address was PO Box 459, Grand Central Annex. (AACOA 198-199, LOH 152)

May 9, at the invitation of Drs. Silkworth and Tiebout, Bill W presented a talk to the Medical Society of the State of NY. (SW 80, GSO, LOH 155, BW-FH 163, SM S9, AACOA 205)

Jun, Volume I, No. 1 of the Grapevine was published (1,200 copies). A one-year subscription was $1.50 ($15 today). Six volunteers (“six ink stained wretches”) started it as an 8-page newsletter for members in the NYC area and GIs overseas. Early volunteers were Marty Mann, Priscilla P, Lois K, Abbott, Maeve and Kay (Bill W also credited Grace O. and her husband). (AACOA viii, 201-203, 212, LOH 153-154, SM S79, PIO 305)

Jun, Bernard B Smith joined the Alcoholic Foundation Board replacing Margaret Farrand. (GSO)

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)

A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003

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