article is written by nationally recognized historian
and oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell
Dr. Bob's last drink, he and Bill continued attempting
to "fix" rummies. They met with minimal success
in their endeavors.
R. was one of these men they worked on. He got dry - went
out drinking - got dry and went out again. It might not
have been because Eddie was resistant; after all he did
make his surrender. Apparently Eddie had other problems
to contend with. There may have been some psychological
as well as physical ailments, which could not be ascertained.
they met with Bill D., who was to be their first success.
Bill D. became "AA #3." He was an attorney and
an alcoholic. Dr. Bob had called the hospital and asked
if there were any alcoholics there he and Bill W. could
speak with. The nurse in charge asked Dr. Bob if he had
also tried this new approach to alcoholism treatment.
She remembered him and his own problem with alcoholism.
He told her that he had and that he was sober.
was the custom in the early days, they went first to visit
Henrietta D., Bill's wife. They explained to her their
plan and elicited her help. They then visited with Bill
in the hospital. Bill W. and Dr. Bob then told Bill D.
about what alcohol had done to them and how they have
D. listened to their stories and thanked them for their
efforts. It took about five days for Dr. Bob to convince
Bill D. to admit that he had a problem and couldn't control
his drinking, Bill was very resistant.
Bill D. had admitted his powerlessness, Dr. Bob and Bill
hauled Bill down off of the bed and all three men got
on their knees and began to pray. They told him that he
had to surrender his life to God and ask that his drinking
problem be removed. Bill followed their directions and
made his surrender.
from the Oxford Group
Bill D. was released from the hospital on July 4, 1935
he had two Independence Days to celebrate. Both Bill and
Henrietta D. continued to attend Oxford Group meetings
on Wednesday nights at the home of T. Henry and Clarace
Williams (at first Henrietta couldn't attend because she
worked on Wednesday nights but she eventually did begin
attending). When Dr. Bob finally broke away from the Oxford
Group in the late fall of 1939, Bill D. and the rest of
the alcoholic squad went with him.
W. stayed with Dr. Bob and his family until August 1935.
He then returned home to New York and bean developing
his own alcoholic squad. They attended the Oxford Group
meetings at Calvary Church held by Reverend Samuel M.
Shoemaker, Jr. Those meetings continued until the New
York group broke off with the Oxford Group.
isn't very clear whether they were asked to leave as some
old-time member's state or they left on their own. Either
way, the New York group was having a hard time with the
Oxford Group because they would rather focus upon alcoholics
and leave the rest of the world to the Oxford Group.
the six months after Bill had returned to New York, he
had managed to successfully work with a handful of alcoholics.
Among those was Hank P and Fitz M. Hank eventually left
the program and is reported to have died under the influence
of alcohol and other drugs. Fitz remained sober and in
the Fellowship. Bill returned to Akron for a visit in
April 1936 to find that Dr. Bob was also having much success.
February 1937 there were twelve sober members of the alcoholic
squad in Akron. Bill in New York continued on with his
group. Bill continued to travel back and forth to Akron
on several occasions to confer with Dr. Bob and visit
with his new friends. He was sure that they had really
stumbled on to something.
were some problems at first. About half the membership
had at least one "slip." Usually, after that
initial "slip," they remained sober. After all,
they were all newcomers and were feeling their way with
no previous experience, strength and hope to guide them.
was no Alcoholics Anonymous, no literature other than
the Upper Room, a daily devotional, and the Oxford Group
literature and other religious and spiritual books available
at that time. The Oxford Group members preferred to deal
with global sin and the alcoholics were content to deal
with the problems of alcohol.
it is still today, several of the new membership fell
away, some drank, some died and some remained sober on
their own. For the most part however, the members of what
was to become Alcoholics Anonymous remained sober and
continued to work with other alcoholics as a way to maintain
their own sobriety. The seeds were being planted and only
time would tell if the eventual growth would bear fruit.
will be revealed