Any Group’s history can uncover facts and recollections that will strengthen its foundation when viewed in the context of experience and local A.A. history. The facts can be relevant, humorous, eye-opening, and significant to a number of places:
*1) to your Group itself
*2) to your District Archives
*3) to your Area Archives
*4) to the Archives at GSO and
*5) sharing your group’s experience, strength and hope with other groups.
Who should write a group history? How could one go about getting started?
Interested individuals or the group’s GSR can participate in gathering the information. Setting up a roundtable meeting to answer the questions in this archives project has good possibilities for success, and does not need to be completed in one session. Another method some groups report having success with is at a group’s anniversary celebration. Inviting the group’s founders and long time members to speak, with someone acting as a recorder of sorts. Assembling a group history is easier than what you might think. Still others resort to individual contact and interviews with their founders and long time members.
Some also report it is helpful to audio record the discussions/interviews with those they approach. Others find taking handwritten notes at the time easier. If you do use audiotaping, you should get permission to do so before starting, and have an agreement with those on the tape as to whether the tape will be erased after you finish with it, or if you have plans of donating it to your area AA archives.
What should be included? (scope)
After the information is gathered it needs to be decided how you want to present it. Some seem to prefer a collection of stories, other seem to settle for a basic time line of facts & events. For one reason or another, some focus only on the founding years while others cover the entire history till the present. Sometimes, in hope of avoiding controversy, only the positive history of the group is included. Others have chosen to include both those positive and their ‘learning’ experiences. Often presenting the later as humorous stories in retrospect, much like the ‘Rule 62’ story in the 12&12. Our best advice is to take your time and enjoy putting it together.
How should it be actually structured?
From the above paragraph, you probably, quite rightly, got the idea there is no right or wrong way to write a group history. It’s a matter of your group’s autonomy.
Realizing that “any way you want to” is probably less than helpful, let’s revert back to one possible example from Writing 101. Focus on what are sometimes called the “5 W’s” – who, what, where, when, and how.
Note: the Date of Origin (D.O.E.) field on the white sheet update forms, sent annually from GSO for the U.S. Directories, is the record of when your Group first registered with A.A. World Services. 1977 marked the first computerized list for every AA Group. The information has been included on the Group update forms since 1992, through an effort by the GSO Archivist and the Trustees Archives Committee. It’s one place to start from.
If your group was formed before 1977, directories, group records, District Minutes, and U.S. Directories may need to be consulted in your search for early dates. Check with your District Secretary, D.C.M., or call the GSO Records Department direct: 212-870-3400. You can also send an email to the GSO archives as another means of helping you find the date your group originally registered with New York.
Keep in mind, the actual date meetings first started at your group may be different than what is on file at GSO, as many groups actually held meetings for a time before getting around to registering with New York or may have written about ‘how to form a group’ sometime before actually holding meetings.
The subjects of this history survey are about “where” your Group meets, “how” your meeting structure developed, “who” are the core members who gave direction to your current Group life, and “what” your group does today, when included with the earliest recollections you can find.
This questionnaire can be easily printed by clicking “Print This” above, top right. If there isn’t enough space for the replies, use more paper! Once you have completed your group history, send a copy of it, typed up in text format or Html, in an email in its entirety to Contact Info, and your group’s history will then get listed on the Global Map on Silkworth.net. * For anonymity reasons, please remember to use first names & last initials for posting on silkworth.net.
It is recommended that you also deliver a copy of your completed group history to your District Archives Committee—they will know where to send it.
Select one and/or both of the following that best benefits your AA history