Griffith Wilson born Nov. 26, 1895, in a small room behind
a bar in East Dorsett, VT., to Gilman and Emily Wilson.
- Professor William James lectures at University of Edinburgh,
Scotland. Lectures published as "The Varieties of
Religious Experience" in 1902.
father, Gilman, deserts the family.
mother, Emily, moves to Boston and becomes an Osteopathic
Physician. Bill and sister Dorothy live with maternal
grandparents, Fayette and Ella Griffith.
first "success" making a boomerang - "a
- About age 12 Bill "leaves the Church" over
a required temperance pledge.
- Oxford Group begun as A First Century Christian Fellowship.
Frank Buchman, Founder. They espoused the Four Absolutes:
Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness and Love. They practiced
the principles of self-survey; confession; restitution;
and service to others.
- Bill begins secondary education at Burr & Burton
- Ebby Thatcher and Bill first met.
- Bill's "first love", Bertha Bamford, dies
after surgery in New York. Bill began a three year depression.
- 1918, World War I
- Bill enters Norwich University - a military college
with strict discipline.
meets Lois Burnham, daughter of New York physician Dr.
April 6 - U.S. enters World War I.
1917 - a Second Lieutenant in the coast artillery at Ft.
Rodman, Mass., Bill takes first remembered drink - Bronx
Cocktail - feels a miracle - relaxed and free. A profound
experience he recalled vividly more than 50 years later.
January 24 - Bill marries Lois Burnham.
1918 - On way to France, Bill visits Winchester Cathedral
and is stirred by a "tremendous sense of presence".
Reads epitaph on headstone of a Hampshire Grenadier.
11, 1918 - Armistice signed, World War I ends.
January 16 - 36 states ratified constitutional amendment
1919 - Bill returns home.
- Bill enters Brooklyn Law School.
- An investigator for U.S. F & G and also works around
Christmas- Bill vows to stay sober one year - Lasted only
- Bought motorcycle and became (First?) "Market Analyst."
- On Wall Street full time. Disease progressing.
1928 - Early 1929 - Bill crosses "invisible
line" in his drinking.
Oct. - Stock Market collapse.
1929 - Bill goes to Canada for a job with Dick Johnson.
- 31 - Back in Brooklyn and Wall Street. Living
with Lois's family - unemployed. Disease progressing.
- Rowland Hazard sees Dr. Carl Jung in Zurich, Switzerland.
Told no medical or psychological hope for an alcoholic
of his type; told that the only hope was a spiritual or
religious experience or conversion. This considered "the
first in the chain of events that led to the founding
Spring - Bill's business deal in New Jersey - drank Apple
Jack and drunk three days. Contract cancelled.
Towns Hospital, Bill meets Dr. William Silkworth on second
admission. "The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks."
- Bill in "An Alcoholic Hell".
- Bill in Towns Hospital four times.
Dec. 5 - Prohibition ended.
resumes drinking after each admission. Disease progressing.
Summer - Dr. Silkworth pronounces Bill a "HOPELESS
Hazard returns to America and becomes involved in Oxford
- Emmett Fox publishes "The Sermon On The Mount".
1934 - Rowland Hazzard and Cebra persuade court to court
to parole Ebby Thacher in their custody. Ebby sobers up
at Oxford Group at Calvary Episcopal Mission, where Sam
1934 - Ebby T. carries message to Bill at home. Tells
his story. "One Alcoholic Talking To Another."
starts attending Oxford Group at Calvary Church, Bowery
drinks again - Back to Towns Hospital.
1934 - Bill has "Hot Flash" spiritual experience
at Towns Hospital. NEVER DRANK AGAIN.
Silkworth assured Bill he was not crazy; rather a "psychic
upheaval" or "conversion experience."
next day Ebby brought Bill a copy of William James' "Varieties
of Religious Experience".
reads "Varieties of Religious Experience", an
explanation of need for Pain, Suffering, Calamity and
"Deflation in Depth" and the "Simultaneous
Transmission of Hope." The two "Halves"
are joined into a "Whole."
returns to Oxford Group and works with other alcoholics,
also at Sam Shoemaker's Calvary Mission and at Towns Hospital,
emphasizing his "Hot Flash" spiritual experience.
He noted they "seemed to do better" talking
of their common problems, but no success in sobering up
develops belief that alcoholics are resistant to the "Four
Absolutes" of the Oxford Group.
- Bill, still sober, but no success yet in helping others.
Still frequents Wall Street. Went to Akron Ohio for proxy
fight. Lost proxy fight. Bill at Mayflower Hotel. Very
discouraged and afraid he might drink.
11, 1935 - Bill reached realization of: I need another
alcoholic. "He starts making telephone calls. The
final founding moment of A.A.
Walter Tunks referred Bill to Norman Sheppard, and Norman
referred Bill to Henrietta Seiberling, an Oxford Group
adherent. She arranged a meeting the next afternoon at
the Seiberling Estate with Dr. Bob Smith.
12, 1935 @5:00P.M. - Bill meets Dr. Bob. Bob still drinking.
Bill tells Bob of his experiences with alcohol the hopes,
promises, failures told of the obsession, compulsion,
and physical allergy; told him of Ebby's visit and simple
message, "show me your faith and by my works I will
show you mine."
Holbrook Smith. Born August 8, 1879 in St. Johnsbury,
VT. Dartmouth College, Pre-Med at Univ. of Michigan. M.D.
at Rush Medical college, Chicago, IL. Intern at City Hospital,
Akron, OH. Proctologist. His wife, Anne was a friend of
Henrietta Seiberling. They brought Dr. Bob to Oxford Group
meetings for 2-1/2 yrs. and he continued to get drunk
had presented Dr. Bob four aspects of one core idea: 1)
Utter Hopelessness, 2) Totally Deflated, 3) Requiring
Conversion, 4) Needing Others
Bob understood with sudden clarity - the difference with
the Oxford Group. "The spiritual approach was as
useless as any other if you soaked it up like a sponge
and kept it to yourself." The purpose of life was
not to "get" , it was to "give."
10?, 1935 Dr. Bob has last drink
ANONYMOUS IS FOUNDED
11, 1935 - Dr. Bob suggests they both start working with
28, 1935 - Bill and Dr. Bob confront Bill Dotson, first
"Man on the Bed." Bill D. was a prominent attorney
in Akron. The 3rd A.A. Note: Bill D. had a spiritual experience
without familiarity with Oxford Group principals.
Seiberling supplied them with "Infusion of Spirituality"
mainly through Paul to Corinthians on "Love"
and James on
if faith is to have meaning.
1935 - Bill stayed in in Akron. He and Dr. Bob worked
with alcoholics and attended weekly Oxford Group meetings
and received spiritual nourishment.
& Winter 1935 - Back in New York on Clinton St. Hank
P. and Fitz M. got sober.
1936 - a small but solid group developing at Clinton
St. in New York.
efforts with alcoholics receiving criticism from Oxford
Towns offers Bill a job at Towns Hospital. Bill wanted
it. The question presented to the Group and rejected because
- what they had, the "thing" that bound them
together and those feelings could not be bought and paid
for. The only authority was the Group Conscience and all
decisions were to be made by the Group.
- Beginning of the split from the Oxford Group.
at Clinton St.: Ebby T., Oscar V., Russell R., Bill C.,
1937 - Bill and Dr. Bob meet in Akron and compare notes.
Forty cases sober and staying sober. More than twenty
sober for more than one year. All had been diagnosed as
meeting of the Akron Group to consider Bill's ideas for
a book, pamphlets and how to expand the movement. Presented
but only narrowly passed by a majority of 2.
Feb. - Rockefeller gives $5,000 and saves A.A. from professionalism.
1938 - The Alcoholic Foundation established as a trusteeship
1938 - Beginning of the writing of the book Alcoholics
1938 - Twelve Steps written.
- Membership reaches 100.
1939 - The book Alcoholics Anonymous published.
1939 - Withdrawal from association with Oxford Group complete.
Oxford Group renamed "Moral Re-Armament."
- Bill meets Father Ed Dowling who becomes his "spiritual
1940 - First World Service January Office for A.A.
March - Jack Alexander's Saturday Evening Post article
published and membership jumped from 2000.
January - Dr. Harry Tiebout's first paper on the subject
of "Alcoholics Anonymous".
1944 - The A.A. Grapevine established.
- The Twelve Traditions of A.A. formulated and published.
The Washingtonians in the 1840's failed, due principally
to failure to adhere to "Singleness of Purpose,"
and this failure influenced the development of the A.A.
June 1st - Anne Ripley Smith died.
July - First international convention of A.A. at Cleveland,
Ohio. Twelve Traditions adopted.
16, 1950 - Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, co-founder of Alcoholics
June - The book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions published.
Oct. - The "Alcoholic Foundation" becomes the
"General Service Board of A.A."
July - 20th Anniversary Convention at St. Louis, MO. Second
edition of Alcoholics Anonymous published.
three legacies of Recovery, Unity and Service turned over
to the movement by its oldtimers.
- Creation of first overseas General Service Board of
A.A. in Great Britain and Ireland. A.A. Comes of Age published
- Membership reaches over 200,000 in 7,000 groups in 70
countries and U.S. possessions.
- A.A. Publishing, Inc. became A.A. World Services, Inc.
July - 25th Anniversary Convention at Long Beach, CA.
- Publication of Twelve Concepts for World Service written
by Bill W.
July - 30th Anniversary Convention at Toronto, Canada.
Keynote adopted, "I Am Responsible."
- Change in ratio of trustees of the General Service Board;
now two-thirds majority of alcoholic members; the A.A.
fellowship accepts responsibility for all it's future
- Publication of the book The A.A. Way of Life now titled
As Bill Sees It.
Oct. 9-11 - 1st World Service meeting held in New York
with delegates from 14 countries.
- 35th Anniversary International Convention at Miami Beach,
Florida. Keynote: "This we owe to AA's of the future.
To place our common welfare first; To keep our fellowship
united. For on A.A. Unity depend our lives, and the lives
of those to come." Bill's last public appearance.
Jan. 24 - William Griffith Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics
Anonymous, dies at Miami Beach, FL.
Oct. 5-7 - 2nd World Service meeting held in New York.
- Publication of Came to Believe.
1973 - Distribution of the book Alcoholics Anonymous reached
one million mark.
- Publication of Living Sober.
- Publication of 3rd Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.
October 5 - Lois Burnam Wilson died.
Sources: Bill W. by Robert Thompsen
Not God. A History of Alcoholics Anonymous by Ernest Kurtz
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, A.A. World Services,
Pass It On - Bill Wilson and the A.A. Message, A.A. World
The Language of the Heart, The A.A. Grapevine
Dr. Bob and the Good Old-Timers, A.A. World Services,
On The Tail of a Comet, The Life of Frank Buchman by Garth
The Washingtonian Movement, by Milton A. Maxwell, Ph.D.
A.A. The Way It Began, by Bill Pittman