A.A. Origins

The origins of Alcoholics Anonymous can be traced to the Oxford Group, a religious movement popular in the United States and Europe in the early 20th century. Members of the Oxford Group practiced a formula of self-improvement by performing self-inventory, admitting wrongs, making amends, using prayer and meditation, and carrying the message to others.

In the early 1930s, a well-to-do Rhode Islander, Rowland H., visited the noted Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung for help with his alcoholism. Jung determined that Rowland’s case was medically hopeless, and that he could only find relief through a vital spiritual experience. Jung directed him to the Oxford Group.

Rowland later introduced fellow Vermonter Edwin (“Ebby”) T. to the group, and the two men along with several others were finally able to keep from drinking by practicing the Oxford Group principles.

One of Ebby’s schoolmate friends from Vermont, and a drinking buddy, was Bill W. Ebby sought out his old friend at his home at 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn, New York, to carry the message of hope.

Bill W. had been a golden boy on Wall Street, enjoying success and power as a stockbroker, but his promising career had been ruined by continuous and chronic alcoholism. Now, approaching 39 years of age, he was learning that his problem was hopeless, progressive, and irreversible. He had sought medical treatment at Towns Hospital in Manhattan, but he was still drinking.

Bill was, at first, unconvinced by Ebby’s story of transformation and the claims of the Oxford Group. But in December 1934, after again landing in Towns hospital for treatment, Bill underwent a powerful spiritual experience unlike any he had ever known. His depression and despair were lifted, and he felt free and at peace. Bill stopped drinking, and worked the rest of his life to bring that freedom and peace to other alcoholics. The roots of Alcoholics Anonymous were planted.

A post-war beginning in Germany

A handful of U.S. servicemen, all recovering alcoholics stationed at U.S. Army Base I Munich after the end of World War II, take on the responsibility of forming the first known A.A. group in Germany. On a mission to sober up local alcoholics, they post notices of a meeting to be held at Hotel Leopold (right) on November 1, 1953. Among the 25 attendees are Max, Kurt, and Heindrich, who will meet with the Americans in what will come to be called Germany’s “mother group.”

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions is first published — 1953

Bill W. becomes increasingly devoted to writing projects, one of which emerges as Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions — the book that sets forth his deepest understanding of A.A.’s basic principles.

Nicaragua’s inaugural group

In the fall of 1953, Grupo de A.A. La Merced is founded in León by Jack M., who took up residence in Nicaragua in 1950, and then joined A.A. while on a brief visit to the United States Groups in the capital city of Managua and other Nicaraguan population centers will start meeting a decade later, facilitated by the Alcoholic Foundation.

The Big Book hits Belgium

At a gathering of English-speaking and Belgian alcoholics in Brussels, Jean L. introduces the Big Book and the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. Within months of the October 1953 meeting, groups start assembling not only in Belgium’s capital but also in cities and towns in Flanders and Wallonia.

About the Author

Related

1984

The Spanish Services DeskA full-time Spanish Services staff position at G.S.O. New York is created i...

Read More >

2013

French Big Book Celebrates 50 YearsMarch 2013 marks 50 years since the Big Book was first published ...

Read More >

1935

Joining the fold...An alcoholic from New York has a vision of the way to sobriety and is introduced ...

Read More >

1959

Austria West, Austria EastIn 1959, two A.A. members from Reichenall, Germany, decide to carry the me...

Read More >

1976

Fast-forward in IcelandThough the Reykjavik Group had been meeting in Iceland since 1954, a breakthr...

Read More >

2017

Cuban A.A. Continues to GrowThe 18th General Service Conference of A.A. in Cuba is held in Santa Cla...

Read More >

Post a Comment