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A Narrative Timeline Of AA History

Public Version vApril 04'

1958 to 1961

A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003


Apr 28, Bill W presented a talk to the NYC Medical Society on Alcoholism. (HT)

Apr, Theme: Promise and Progress. The 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, the consensus was this was a matter for local autonomy and not one on which the GSC should record a definite position in behalf of the movement. (Fl Act)

  • Since the use of tokens of sobriety is a matter of local taste and custom, there seems to be no expressed need at the present time for a standard token of sobriety and no need for AA Publishing, Inc. to carry such an item. (Lit.)

  • The GSC voted unanimously to ask Bill W to provide continuing leadership on all projects of movement-wide concern in which he was currently interested. (Fl Act)

  • The GSC approved the action of the GSB in reassigning to Bill royalty rights in his three books (Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age) and in books he may write in the future, for the duration of the copyrights involved. (Fl Act)

  • The GSC 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. (Lit.) Note: this advisory action involved removing the word “honest” from “honest desire to stop drinking” in the AA Preamble in the Grapevine. It also led to changing the wording of the Preamble from “AA has no dues or fees” to “There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.” The changes were approved by the General Service Board in the summer of 1958 (www also Best of the Grapevine, vol.1, 274-275)

  • The suggestion of the name change from General Service Hq. to General Service Office be adopted. (Policy)

  • AA Publishing, Inc. provide for a basic AA book in foreign languages as needed. (Lit.)

  • A paperback edition of the Big Book not be published. (Fl Act)

Oct, The Days of Wine and Roses, by J P Miller, premiered on CBS-TV’s Playhouse 90. It starred Cliff Robertson (as Joe Clay) and Piper Laurie (as Joe’s wife Kirsten). (CB 77) AA cooperated in it and the later movie version. (AACOA ix) The story was centered on Joe’s testimony at an AA meeting. The ending found him in recovery but his wife continued to drink and abandoned Joe and their daughter. (www)


Apr 22-26, Hotel Commodore in NYC. Main theme Confidence, Absence of Fear of Future. The 9th GSC recommended that:

  • Delegates speaking from the floor limit themselves to 3 minutes.

  • $3 per member ($19 today) replace the $2 suggested as annual contribution to GSO. (Policy)

AA Publishing, Inc. was renamed to AA World Services, Inc. (AACOA ix)


Between 1959 to 1964 (likely near 1960) Marty M relapsed briefly on alcohol. It was a closely held secret among NY AA members (and the NCA) who knew about it. The information was revealed in the publication of Marty’s biography in 2001 (MMM 262-266)

E M Jellinek published The Disease Concept of Alcoholism. (NG 312, GB 166)

Apr, Bill W declined the opportunity to be on the cover of Time magazine. (BW-FH 201)

Apr 3, Father Edward Dowling SJ, died in Memphis, TN. (LOH 364)

Apr 20-24, Roosevelt Hotel in NYC. Theme: Need for Internal and External Communication. The 10th GSC:

  • In a talk to the Conference, Bill W announced for the past three years, he had been working on codifying principles and developing essays for the structure of the Third Legacy of Service. The principles were announced as the Twelve Concepts for World Service. (www)

Jul 1-3, 25th anniversary and third Int’l Convention at Long Beach, CA. Theme: Recovery, Unity and Service. Est. attendance 10,000. AFG members present at the Convention voted to approve a plan, similar to AA, for an annual conference of delegates. AFG groups later affirmed the action. (LR 181)


Frank N D Buchman died. Moral Re-Armament had declined significantly in numbers and influence and became headquartered in Caux, Switzerland. (NW 45, 97-98) In 2001, MRA changed its name to Initiatives of Change. A month after Buchman’s death Bill W wrote to a friend regretting that he did not write to Buchman acknowledging his contributions to the AA movement. (www, PIO 386-387)

Jan 23, Bill W wrote to Dr Carl Gustav Jung acknowledging Jung’s contribution to the movement. (NW 9, PIO 381-386) On Jan 30, Dr Jung replied to Bill’s letter. (NW 11)

Apr 19-23, Roosevelt Hotel in NYC. Theme: A True and High and a Constant Purpose. The 11th GSC recommended that:

  • The Birthday Plan to provide “supplementary” support to AAWS be adopted and continued. (Fin)

  • It was the sense of the meeting that no action be taken by the 1961 GSC on the proposal for a paperback edition of the Big Book. (Fl Act)

  • The following motion was adopted unanimously: The GSC recognizes that publication of cheap editions of AA books would probably reduce the income to World Services and Bill W’s personal income. This GSC 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 5 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. (Fl Act, PIO 393)

Mar 20, Bill W replied to Jung’s letter (PIO 384)

Apr, first Al-Anon World Service Conference was held on a trial basis in NYC with 12 Delegates. (LR 181)

May 15, Bill W’s mother Emily (age 91) died in Dobbs Ferry, NY. (PIO 387)

Jun 6, Dr Carl Gustav Jung died. (PIO 386)

A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003

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