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Anonymous history in your area
A Brief History Of Alcoholics Anonymous
In South Carolina
Alcoholic Anonymous South Carolina
hope is that when this chip of a book is launched on the
world tide of alcoholism, defeated drinkers will seize
upon it, to follow its suggestions. Many, we are sure,
will rise to their feet and march on. They will approach
still other sick ones and fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous
may spring up in each city and hamlet, havens for those
who must find a way out.
Anonymous, p. 153
the archives of the General Service Office in New York there
is a letter dated November 13, 1942, from an attorney in
Spartanburg named John L. Apparently, this is the earliest
written inquiry to the office from someone in South Carolina.
The group that later was established because of this inquiry
marks the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous in our state.
John L. wrote in part, “A group of us are interested
in the book published about 1939 by your society and are
interested in forming a local chapter.” Other correspondence
in the New York archives indicates the group experienced
difficulty getting started, but eventually did hold its
first official meeting on September 15, 1944, at the Cleveland
Hotel in Spartanburg. There were six members in attendance.
In the summer of 1946, Marvin M. moved to Spartanburg from
Atlanta, Georgia and discovered the group no longer existed.
He resurrected the group and the members began calling it
the Central Group. The group, however, again had problems
meeting consistently and became inactive. In 1955, a new
Central Group was started and began holding meetings regularly
at 202 Pine Street and later at 109 Wall Street. In the
early 1950s, several Central Group members in Spartanburg
formed a nonprofit organization named Alconon Inc. The organization
later obtained funding and was able to purchase property
and construct a facility at 349 East St. John Street. Members
attending meetings at the location started the second group
in Spartanburg and named it the St. John Group. In the early
1970s, the Central Group and the St. John Group merged and
became known as the Central-St. John Group.
Information in the South Carolina General Service Committee
Archives indicates Mary D., a woman in Columbia, wrote the
then named Alcoholic Foundation in New York in late November
1944. Mary informed the office that she and two other members
of Alcoholics Anonymous had started an A.A. group in the
city. Her letter named the other two members as David H.
and John C. The group was holding meetings in the private
dining room of the Jefferson Hotel, where John C. was employed.
The group later began referring to itself as the Columbia
Group and moved their meeting location to 819 Harden Street
in the mid-1940s. On January 31, 1947, an organization named
A Corporation of Alcoholics (ACOA) was registered with the
South Carolina Secretary of State’s office, as a nonprofit
organization. Following the organization’s construction
of a facility at 2015 College Street, the Columbia group
began holding their meetings there in the fall of 1947.
Other groups were started in Columbia and in the surrounding
area during the late 1940s and early 1950s and members renamed
the group the Central Group.
General Service Office records show that William H. of Charleston,
South Carolina began corresponding with the New York office
as early as 1943. He stated in one of his letters that he
had been sober for over ten years outside of A.A., but would
be glad to help get Alcoholics Anonymous started in Charleston.
As often occurred when starting new groups in A.A.’s
early days, William H. experienced a great many problems.
After several failed attempts, he was able to have the group
hold its first official meeting on March 26, 1946, at St.
Phillip’s Episcopal Church’s Parish House. The
group later dissolved. In 1948 two other groups in Charleston,
the Mid-Town Group and Tidewater Group, started meeting.
Directories and other material in the South Carolina General
Service Committee Archives reveal Alcoholics Anonymous grew
rapidly in South Carolina during the late 1940s and early
1950s. Groups were started in cities across the state, including
Greenville (1945), Anderson (1946), Bennettsville (1947),
Laurens (1948), Greenwood (1948), Conway (1950), Greer (1951)
and Lancaster (1952). The material also shows the first
state convention in South Carolina was held in Charleston,
July 16-18, 1948, at the Francis Marion Hotel. Approximately
100 A.A. members attended the convention. By the end of
1952, the membership of Alcoholics Anonymous in South Carolina
had reached 917 with 44 groups registered with the New York
office. John J., from Cheraw, became the first delegate
elected from South Carolina. He attended the 1952 and 1953
General Service Conferences in New York.
The growth of Alcoholics Anonymous in South Carolina continued
throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1959, the membership
increased to 1,015 and there were 64 official groups. In
1969, there were 1,294 active A.A. members attending meetings
in 84 registered groups in South Carolina, which was officially
designated as Area 62 by New York. In the mid 1960s, Area
62 divided itself into three regions known as the Upper
Region, Central Region, and Lower Region. The state was
further was divided into districts in the mid-1970s.
Each group and district in the state elects representatives
to the Area Assembly, which is responsible for conducting
the state’s A.A. business. In June 2001, assembly
members voted to amend the area’s structure and procedures
and eliminated both the regions and regional nominating
committee used in elections. Following this decision, all
eligible Area 62 members have been invited to stand for
area offices and elections have been conducted according
to the Third Legacy Procedure described in the A.A. Service
The first Intergroup office, named the Greater Columbia
Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous, opened in Columbia in
September 1979. Other Intergroup offices opened in the 1980s
in Greenville, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach. These offices
provided members easy access to meeting information and
allowed for the quick purchase of literature. In the 1980s
and 1990s, in addition to standard speaker and discussion
type meetings, A.A. meeting schedules show that “Big
Book” study meetings, “Twelve and Twelve”
meetings, and meetings for young people, women, gays, and
other specialized groups became commonplace across South
Carolina. Meetings also began to be held in the mornings,
at noon, in the afternoons and late at night. Moreover,
nonsmoking meetings became the norm in most places. Today,
groups can be found everywhere in South Carolina, from large
metropolitan areas, which have scores of groups and hundreds
of meetings, to small towns such as Denmark, Estill, Ridgeway,
and Greeleyville, which have only one or two meetings a
On March 20-23, 1997, the 50th Annual South Carolina State
A.A. Convention was held at the Adams Mark Hotel in Columbia,
South Carolina, with nearly 800 members in attendance. In
April 1997, at the 47th General Service Conference in New
York, Betty S. from Columbia was elected Southeast regional
trustee. In October 1999, Darwin H., from Conway, South
Carolina, was elected as delegate to the 50th General Service
When Alcoholics Anonymous was first published in 1939, Bill
W. expressed the hope that our Fellowship would one day
reach everywhere and that it might provide a means of recovery
for alcoholics who wanted to recover. As we enter a new
millennium, data shows that we have grown in South Carolina
from one group and six members in 1944 to over 300 groups
and approximately 7,000 members in the year 2004. It is
evident that Bill’s hope has been realized to a large
extent in our state. May God continue to bless us.
© by Area 62 Alcoholics Anonymous