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.

The A.A. Grapevine celebrates 60 years

In June 2004 the monthly journal of A.A., The A.A. Grapevine, celebrates six decades of continuous publication. Founded by volunteers as an 8-page newsletter for A.A. members in New York City, the Grapevine is now a 64-page international "meeting in print" for A.A. members, with a circulation of more than 110,000.

Growth in Mongolia

The first national convention of A.A. in Mongolia takes place in July 2004. It is the result of six years of work. It began when a nonalcoholic physician, Dr. Erdenebager, became interested in A.A. and urged meetings outside of those in treatment facilities in Ulaan Baator. Then, in 1999, two newly sober A.A.s and a physician traveled to Moscow to find ways to make A.A. work in Mongolia. When G.S.O. New York received a request from members for literature in the native language, A.A. World Services aided in the publication of the Big Book in Mongolian (2002). The 25 groups meeting in Mongolia in 2003, by then with the sponsorship of A.A. Japan, jump to 41 in a year. The mountainside structure member is a Buddhist Temple whose monks, friendly to A.A.s efforts, were visited by a G.S.O. staff member.

A new digital archive

Sixty years of Grapevine content becomes available online when the A.A. Grapevine Digital Archive is launched on July 1, 2004. Subscribers are able to access more than 12,000 stories, thousands of published letters, A.A. history in the making — and, yes, countless cartoons and jokes. By selecting Digital Archive on the home page of www.aagrapevine.org, subscribers are able to search for topics by magazine department, theme, date, or keyword.

Stepping Stones made State Historic Site

Acting on a recommendation from the New York State Board of Historic Preservation, the governor signs a declaration in 2004 making Stepping Stones, the Bedford Hills house Bill and Lois called home beginning in 1941, a New York State Historic Site.

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