Evening Post Article
This article is written by nationally recognized
historian and oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell K.
March 1, 1941, the Saturday Evening Post ran an article
entitled, "ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, Freed Slaves of Drink, Now They
This article, almost six full pages in length, detailed
the workings of AA. Jack Alexander, who initially started out to expose
AA as a fraud, wrote in glowing praise about what AA was doing to
help reclaim the lives of countless formerly hopeless alcoholics.
Until March 1941, sales of the Big Book were minimal. AA membership,
though growing was sluggish in scope and numbers. The First Edition
of the book was published in April 1939 and it wasn't until March
1941 that a second printing became necessary.
According to a proposal statement by the Alcoholic Foundation (The
original name of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.) the article
in the Saturday Evening Post "produced a flood of inquiries."
Letters of inquiry to the Foundation increased to 5,139 and over 15,000
AA pamphlets and 1,749 Big Books were shipped. This proposal stated
that, "A.A. membership has more than doubled, standing now above
4000 members."It goes on to state that "Office activity
continues at a high rate and is thus far in line with our original
estimate of 10,000 inquiries for the fiscal year."
The Saturday Evening Post stated that the March 1st issue was sold
out and probably had the largest circulation of any other issue up
to that time. Thousands of people wrote to the Foundation office and
to established AA groups for information and help. In Cleveland, Ohio,
beginners "classes" were established to handle the large
influx of new members. New ways to deal with sponsorship on a grand
scale were formulated and the new prospects were "indoctrinated"
into the Fellowship. Many new AA groups were formed around the country
and several people who did not have access to a group "got well"
with just the Big Book. Many of these newly recovered AA members went
on to establish groups in their cities and towns.
This was the turning point in the growth and success of Alcoholics
Anonymous. AA had been, according to Bill W., "Put on the map."
Several of the groups around the country didn't like this new publicity
however. They didn't know how to handle the dozens of requests for
help each received. Many members felt that their anonymity was being
threatened and several wrote to the Foundation expressing their concerns.
AA was truly on the move and that movement has not stopped even to
this day. Despite the large amount of inquiries and necessity of another
printing of the Big Book, the Foundation remained heavily in debt.
The creditors and subscribers (those who purchased stock in Works
Publishing) had not been repaid as promised.
Heavy in Debt
According to the Alcoholic Foundation, "The book 'Alcoholics
Anonymous' is still heavily in debt -- $7,824.95 was still due creditors
and subscribers as of Sept. 1st, 1941. Since publication in April
1939, very little book debt has been retired...Instead of reducing
these debts, book income has been used for the greater part to pay
the increasing overhead of our Central Office so that we could answer
the huge number of inquiries. Plainly speaking, we have been using
monies that should have been paid to creditors for the purpose of
answering pleas for help."
The Foundation listed their overhead expenses at that time (beginning
March 1, 1941 through September 1, 1941) as follows:
Office rent - 30 Vesey St., N.Y.C. -$324.98
Postage for six month period - 426.00
Additional necessary office furniture - 242.08
Stationery - 114.21
Secretary & (3) stenographers salaries - 2,005.00
Government taxes - Social Security, Etc. - 62.20
Telephone & Telegraph - 88.37
Total - - - - $3,294.63
The Foundation further explained that "These expenses have been met from
the following sources:"
From donations by the groups
to The Alcoholic Foundation $1,500.00
From sales of the book
"Alcoholics Anonymous" 1,500.00
From outside donations
to The Alcoholic Foundation 294.63
Total - - $3,294.63
In order to help with meeting the growing expenses, the Foundation suggested
that group and member donations be increased from $1.00 per year, per
member to $1.00 per member twice a year. They also reminded the membership
that this request was, "but a suggestion."
More will be revealed...