Glenn F. Chesnut: Resume. When checking on the internet, it is necessary to search also under the common misspellings and variants Glenn Chesnut / Glen F. Chesnut / Glen Chesnut / Glenn F. Chestnut / Glenn Chestnut / Glen F. Chestnut / Glen Chestnut / Glenn C., South Bend

Glenn F. Chesnut   ~   Résumé

Ancient history, historical theology, the history of ideas,
and (since 1993) research in modern alcoholism studies

October 2009

Fields of publication

  Ancient history, late Roman Empire.

Early Christianity (second-sixth centuries) and its Greco-Roman background (including the history of Romano-Hellenistic philosophy and political theory, and Greek and Roman historiography and philosophy of history).

Early medieval historiography and philosophy of history, later medieval philosophical theology.

And more recently:  the history, theory, and spirituality of alcoholism treatment and the Twelve Step program in the twentieth century.







Oxford University

Southern Methodist University (Perkins
School of Theology) magna cum laude

Iowa State University, doctoral program
in chemistry and atomic physics

University of Louisville summa cum laude


  Director of the Hindsfoot Foundation, founded in 1993 for publishing works on the history and theory of alcoholism treatment and the moral and spiritual dimensions of recovery

Professor, History Department, Indiana University South Bend, 1970-2003 (dept. chairman 1982-4)

Professor of History and Professor of Theology (Visiting), Boston University, 1984-5

Co-director of the American branch of the French scholarly press Editions Beauchesne, 1977-80

Acting Assistant Professor, Department of Religion, University of Virginia, 1968-70

Preceptor in Greek and Philosophy, graduate theology program, Southern Methodist University, 1964-65

Ordained United Methodist minister, 1964-present


  Herman Frederic Lieber Award for excellence in teaching (eight-campus IU system): 1988

Rome Prize (Prix de Rome) in Classics: 1978, Fellow of the American Academy in Rome 1978-9

American Society of Church History biennial Philip Schaff Prize competition for 1978-9: special award for the best book on church history written by a North American historian

Fulbright Fellowship to Oxford University: 1965-6, 1966-7

Dempster Fellowship: 1966-7

Rockefeller Doctoral Fellowship: 1967-8


  Glenn F. Chesnut, The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius (Paris: Editions Beauchesne, 1977). The historiographical principles and historical theories of the great ecclesiastical historians of the period from Constantine to Justinian, together with the alternative theories of Augustine, which provided the foundations of medieval historiography for the next thousand years. The spirituality of divine grace, the powers of evil, and human decision-making.

Second edition, revised and enlarged ( Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1986). It has become one of the three classic works in its field (until a recent reprinting by Mercer, book dealers were selling the few still-available copies for $150 to $170).

Glenn F. Chesnut, Images of Christ: An Introduction to Christology (San Francisco: Harper & Row/Seabury Press, 1984). Sections of it are still being used for anthologies for courses at universities in other parts of the country.

Glenn C., The Factory Owner & the Convict (South Bend IN: Hindsfoot Foundation, 1996). A historical account of the beginnings of the A.A. movement in South Bend and Elkhart, Indiana, during the 1940's and 1950's, based on the autobiographical memoirs and speeches of the South Bend factory owner and author Kenneth Merrill, the ex-convict Nicholas Kowalski, and other early local leaders. 2nd printing 1997.

Glenn F. Chesnut, The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program: For Believers & Non-Believers, Hindsfoot Foundation Series on Spirituality and Theology (San Jose: Authors Choice/iUniverse, 2001).

Sgt. Bill S. with Glenn F. Chesnut, On the Military Firing Line in the Alcoholism Treatment Program: The Air Force Sergeant Who Beat Alcoholism and Taught Others to Do the Same, Hindsfoot Foundation Series on the History of Alcoholism Treatment (New York: iUniverse, 2003).
William E. Swegan was the only surviving member of that important wing of early A.A. which stressed the psychological aspects of the A.A. program instead of the spiritual dimension. During the early 1950's in San Antonio, Texas, he and prominent American psychiatrist Louis Jolyon "Jolly" West developed the Lackland Model of alcoholism treatment, which has been one of the three basic models used in modern American alcoholism treatment. The success story which he and West related in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1956 was distributed all across the country by the National Council on Alcoholism.

Louis Jolyon West (1924-1999) eventually went to UCLA in Los Angeles, California, where he became Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences; Psychiatrist-in-Chief at the UCLA Hospital and Clinics; and Director of the Neuropsychiatric Institute at the UCLA Center for the Health Sciences. West gained additional fame as the psychiatrist who discovered the inner psychological mechanisms used in the Chinese brain-washing techniques employed on American prisoners of war in Korea. In the trial of Patty Hearst in 1976, he testified that she had been brain-washed by her captors, the urban guerrilla group called the Symbionese Liberation Army, and that she should not be held legally responsible for participating with them in bank robbery.
Glenn C., The Factory Owner & the Convict, Vol. 1 of Lives and Teachings of the A.A. Old Timers, 2nd ed., Hindsfoot Foundation Series on Alcoholics Anonymous History (New York: iUniverse, 2005).

Glenn C., The St. Louis Gambler & the Railroad Man, Vol. 2 of Lives and Teachings of the A.A. Old Timers, 2nd ed., Hindsfoot Foundation Series on Alcoholics Anonymous History (New York: iUniverse, 2005).

Glenn F. Chesnut, Changed by Grace: V. C. Kitchen, the Oxford Group, and A.A., Hindsfoot Foundation Series on Spirituality and Theology (New York: iUniverse, 2006). On Bishop's list of the Top Fifty Books published over the last century which are recommended in order to understand the history of the Alcoholics Anonymous movement.

Glenn F. Chesnut, God and Spirituality: Philosophical Essays, Hindsfoot Foundation Series on Spirituality and Theology (New York: iUniverse, to appear in early 2010).

William E. Swegan with Glenn F. Chesnut, Ph.D., The Psychology of Alcoholism, Hindsfoot Foundation Series on the History of Alcoholism Treatment (New York: iUniverse, to appear in 2010) -- a second edition of the Sgt. Bill book which first appeared in 2003.


  Nancy Olson, With a Lot of Help from Our Friends: The Politics of Alcoholism, ed. Glenn F. Chesnut, Hindsfoot Foundation Series on the History of Alcoholism Treatment (New York: Writers Club/iUniverse, 2003).

Richard M. Dubiel, The Road to Fellowship: The Role of the Emmanuel Movement and the Jacoby Club in the Development of Alcoholics Anonymous, ed. Glenn F. Chesnut, Hindsfoot Foundation Series on the History of Alcoholism Treatment (New York: iUniverse, 2004).

Annette R. Smith, Ph.D., The Social World of Alcoholics Anonymous: How It Works, introd. by Linda Farris Kurtz, DPA (Professor at Eastern Michigan University School of Social Work, author of Self-Help and Support Groups: A Handbook for Practitioners), ed. Glenn F. Chesnut, Hindsfoot Foundation Series on Treatment and Recovery (New York: iUniverse, 2007).

Editor of The Northern Indiana Archival Bulletin 1998-2001

Fifty Books Tracing AA's History

  Charles Bishop, Jr., the noted antiquarian book dealer and bibliographer who assembled the collection of 15,000 books, pamphlets, and other printed materials published by and about the A.A. movement, which became the nucleus of the world famous Chester H. Kirk Collection on Alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous at Brown University, prepared a list of what he believed to be the fifty best books to read for a good understanding of A.A. history, ranging from William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) to the present.

Glenn F. Chesnut authored one of those books, co-authored a second book, and edited two others on Bishop's Top Fifty List, so that he is reckoned as having had a hand in producing four of the best fifty books written in this field during the past century.


  Numerous articles published in Church History, Anglican Theological Review, Vigiliae Christianae, Second Century: Journal of Early Christian Studies, and Religious Studies Review;  in encyclopedias such as the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible and the Anchor Bible Dictionary;  and in volumes such as Our Common History as Christians, Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, A Century of Church History: The Legacy of Philip Schaff 1888-1988, and Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism.

In the late 1980's and early 1990's, I spent my time working, not on book-length publications, but on shorter projects:
"A Century of Patristic Studies 1888–1988," in Henry Warner Bowden (ed.), A Century of Church History (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988), pp. 36–73, part of the centennial celebration of the founding of the American Society of Church History, an organization in which I have sat on major committees. This project required me to cover what was in part, for me, some new ground: the world of late nineteenth-century philosophical theology.

"Eusebius, Augustine, Orosius, and the Later Patristic and Medieval Christian Histories," in Harold W. Attridge and Gohei Hata (eds.), Eusebius, Christianity, and Judaism (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992), pp. 687–713. Published simultaneously in translation in Japanese. In this long article, I covered some new ground, and carried my work on early philosophy of history into the middle ages, dealing with Orosius, the Venerable Bede, Gregory of Tours' History of the Franks, Otto of Freising's Chronicle and History of the Two Cities, Joinville's Life of St. Louis, etc.

Three public lectures, under the aegis of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, on the eighteenth-century theologian John Wesley (the Oxford classics scholar who founded the Methodist movement) and his use of the philosophical and psychological theories of John Locke and Jonathan Edwards:  "John Wesley's Aldersgate Experience: What Was He Converted From and To?"  "Methodists and Obsessions: John Wesley's Use of John Locke's Theory of the Association of Ideas to Deal with the Problem of Obsessive Thoughts and Compulsive Behavior,"  "The Origins of the Methodist Movement."
In 2007 to 2009, I published three articles, two of them fairly lengthy, while working on my forthcoming book on God and Spirituality: Philosophical Essays:

Glenn Chesnut, "The Names of God," STEPS: A Magazine of Hope and Healing for Christians in Recovery (pub. by The National Association of Christians in Recovery, Brea, California), Vol. 16, No. 4 (2007): 14-18.

28-page "Foreword" by Glenn F. Chesnut, September 27, 2008, to the new online edition of the Oxford Group author Philip Leon's The Philosophy of Courage (originally published in 1939 by Oxford University Press), pages 2-29 at

Glenn F. Chesnut, "Fr. Ralph Pfau," 38 pages, to appear shortly as Chapter 4 of Recovery Through Catholic Eyes: Important Catholic Figures in the History of the Recovery Movement: Essays in Honor of Ernest Kurtz, edited by Oliver J. Morgan, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Counseling and Human Services at the University of Scranton (to be published by Sacred Heart University Press and Guest House Institute).
Other contributors to this volume include:
William R. Miller, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of New Mexico (Albuquerque)
Paul M Roman, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Research on Behavioral Health and Human Services Delivery, University of Georgia (Athens)
Thomas McGovern, Ed.D., C.A.D.A.C., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Texas Tech University (Lubbock), Editor, Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly
Keith Humphreys, Ph.D., Professor (Research) of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University (Stanford, California)
Carlo C. DiClemente, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Baltimore, Maryland).
William White, M.A., Senior Research Consultant at Chestnut Health Systems - Lighthouse Institute, author of the classic work Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment & Recovery in America
Mary C. Darrah, author of the classic work Sister Ignatia: Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous (Loyola University Press, 1992; Hazelden, 2001), Featured Selection of the Book of the Month Club, 1992.
Riley W. Regan, MSW, MHS, Former Director of the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, Former Director of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Recovery
From 2004 to the present, a number of articles have also been published on the Hindsfoot Foundation website:
"The God-Shaped Hole in the Human Soul," January 21, 2006, a very popular article which is read by over 4,000 people a year.

"The Names of God: how to find a God of our understanding," September 10, 2006, a very popular article which is read by at least 3,000 people a year.

"Richmond Walker and the Twenty-Four Hour Book," April 15, 2004, the only lengthy account in print of the life and work of the second most published A.A. author.

"Ralph Pfau (Father John Doe) and the Golden Books," April 20, 2004, the only lengthy external account in print of the life and work of the third most published A.A. author.

"Early Black A.A. along the Chicago-Gary-South Bend Axis: The Stories and Memories of Early Black Leaders Told in Their Own Words," December 26, 2004. Chicago was the home of the first successful black A.A. group, and South Bend was the home of the early black A.A. group about which we have by far the most information, based on Glenn F. Chesnut's interviews of the founders of the South Bend group and their early followers, and one of the earliest members of the Chicago group, who traveled over on weekends to help out the South Benders during the formative period.

"The A.A. Prison Group Founded in 1944 at the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City," December 20, 2004, one of the two best-known early A.A. prison groups.

Arthur S. (Arlington, Texas), Tom E. (Wappingers Falls, New York), and Glenn C. (South Bend, Indiana), "Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Recovery Outcome Rates: Contemporary Myth and Misinterpretation," January 1, 2008, demonstrates (from periodic A.A. membership surveys) that 26% of those who were attending A.A. meetings at the beginning of their first year in the program, were still attending meetings at the end of that year; also that 56% of those in their first year who had completed 90 days were still attending meetings at the end of that year. But also disproves the oft-repeated claim that in early A.A., 50% of the newcomers got sober for life during their first try at the program, and that 25% eventually got sober for life after one or more slips, for an overall 75% success rate, and shows that early A.A. retention rates were far lower, and were much more in line with modern rates.

""Psychological vs. Spiritual Interpretations of A.A.," May 28, 2004, on the split in early A.A. which emerged at the time of the writing of Alcoholics Anonymous (the A.A. "Big Book") in 1938-39.

"Classical Protestant Liberalism and Early A.A.," June 9, 2004.

"The Upper Room and Early A.A.," July 27, 2004, on the influence of the liberal Protestant and Methodist ideas found in this popular Southern Methodist meditational pamphlet on the development of early A.A.

"The Earliest Printings of Richmond Walker's Twenty-Four Hours a Day," August 22, 2004, with photos from the collection of Jack H. (Scottsdale, Arizona).

"J. D. Holmes and the First A.A. Group in Indiana: Evansville April-May 1940," December 29, 2004.

"Doherty Sheerin and the Founding of A.A. in Indianapolis: October 28, 1940," December 29, 2004.

Newly discovered photos of Father Ralph Pfau (the third most-published A.A. author) from the Archdiocesan Archives in Indianapolis, February 28, 2005.

Previously unpublished photos of Richmond Walker and his family, March 3, 2005, obtained from one of Walker's two surviving children.

"The Virtues and the Vices," March 21, 2005, on the various lists of virtues and vices found in early A.A. spiritual writings.

"In Memoriam: Nancy Moyer Olson" (September 18, 1929-March 25, 2005), written shortly after her death. She was the founder of the AAHistoryLovers, author of With a Lot of Help from Our Friends: The Politics of Alcoholism, and the U.S. Senate aide who was in charge of coordinating the passing of the Hughes Act, the most successful alcoholism legislation of the twentieth century.

"Writing Local A.A. History: Stories as the Vessels of Wisdom and Grace," talk given at the Eastern Pennsylvania History & Archives Gathering on June 24, 2006.

"Twelve-Step Meditation in the A.A. Big Book and the 12 & 12," November 26, 2006, including material on Transcendental Meditation and the use of mantras, the Oxford Group concept of guidance, the St. Francis Prayer, guided imagery, the psychologist Edmund Jacobson’s method of progressive relaxation, and Emmet Fox's The Golden Key.

"Learning to See the Sacred Dimension of Reality: Rudolf Otto and the Idea of the Holy, Part 1," May 14, 2009, the great early twentieth-century scholar of comparative religions.

"The Seven Faces of the Experience of the Divine Reality: Rudolf Otto and the Idea of the Holy, Part 2," May 14, 2009.

"The Ground of Being: God and the Big Bang," May 19, 2009, on the relationship between the existentialist concept of the ground of being (Martin Heidegger, Paul Tillich, etc.) and the modern physicists' theory of the Big Bang.

Moderator of the AAHL

  Chesnut is the Moderator of the AAHL (AA History Lovers) online group at, which has become the most important international clearing house for new information on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. It has over 2,100 members and many more regular readers from all around the world (U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Mexico, India, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, etc.). The majority of the best historians in the field are members and contribute to its postings.

The group was started in 2000 by Nancy Moyer Olson, who served as moderator until her death in 2005, when Glenn F. Chesnut (who along with Ernest Kurtz, the leading A.A. historian, had been serving as an advisor) replaced her as moderator. Olson had played an important role in the U.S. Senate in passing and implementing the Hughes Act during the 1970's, the most important piece of alcoholism legislation in the twentieth century after the Prohibition era.

Speeches and addresses

  Invited speeches and addresses at numerous national and international conferences, and at universities such as the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and Southern Methodist University.

Some of the more recent include:

"The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program: For Believers & Non-Believers," Northern Indiana Counselors Association, October 21, 1999, South Bend, Indiana.

"The Golden Books: A.A. author Ralph Pfau (Father John Doe)," 6th National Archives Workshop, Louisville, Kentucky, September 29, 2001.

"Richmond Walker, Author of the Twenty-Four Hour Book," 8th National Archives Workshop, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, September 27, 2003.

Lecture on alcoholism to the medical students in the Family Practice Program at Indiana University's Memorial Hospital program in South Bend, September 24, 2003.

"Writing Local A.A. History: Stories as the Vessels of Wisdom and Grace," at the Eastern Pennsylvania History & Archives Conference on June 24, 2006.


  Research on Richmond Walker, author of Twenty-Four Hours a Day, and Ralph Pfau ("Father John Doe"), author of the Golden Books. These two writers, together with Bill Wilson and Ed Webster, author of The Little Red Book, were "the big four," the most published A.A. authors during the early years of the movement.  

Courses taught

  Indiana University South Bend (1970-2003):

Western Culture 1: Ancient, Greek, and Roman
Western Culture 2: Italian Renaissance, Reformation, 18th-century Enlightenment
Ancient Civilization
Medieval Civilization
Religion of Ancient Israel
Introduction to the New Testament
Greek History
Roman History

Plus occasional seminars on a variety of topics, including God and Christ in Early Christianity, Greek and Roman Mythology, the Fall of the Roman Empire, and the Dark Ages

Also reading courses on first year Greek, advanced medieval Latin, the medieval Byzantine world, the philosophers Aristotle and Kant, and medieval art history

Boston University (1984-85):

Graduate course on Patristics (the Christian theology and philosophical theology of the first six centuries A.D.)
Seminar on St. Augustine for doctoral students
Advanced undergraduate Roman history
Advanced graduate reading course on Greek grammar and syntax in first-century texts

University of Virginia (1968-70):

History of Christian Thought: patristic, medieval, reformation, and modern (both undergraduate and graduate students)
St. Augustine
Introduction to modern theology and ethics
The twentieth-century debate over history and faith
The Rise of Western Atheism (Feuerbach, Marx, Dostoyevski, Camus, Sartre, Heidegger, ennui in Baudelaire, etc.)

Southern Methodist University (1964-65):

First year graduate Greek language
First year graduate history of philosophy


  ON SEPARATE PAGES (click on each link):

Parents, grandparents, and baby pictures

Childhood, high school, and college years

Seminary at Southern Methodist University 1961-1965

Doctorate at Oxford University 1965-1968

Teaching at Indiana University 1970-2003

       Part 1: the early years

       Part 2: the later years

Retirement from Indiana University in May 2003

Some recent photos (through Summer 2005)

INDEX  to these and other photos