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the Big Book
article is written by nationally recognized historian and
oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell K.
Maxwell, Ph.D., in his paper The Washingtonian Movement,
stated that "In the early days of A.A., the entire
fellowship was bound together by a chain of personal relationships
- all created on the basis of a common program, a common
spirit and a common tradition."
Bill was writing the as yet unnamed book, Hank P. was
putting together "sales promotion possibilities"
and "the market" for it. Part of this marketing
plan included his opinion of the prospective audience
for the book:
Over one million alcoholics (according to the Rockefeller
2. At least a million non-alcoholics that have definite
3. Every employer of 100 or more people
4. Those who take an academic interest
5. Two hundred & ten thousand ministers
6. One hundred sixty nine thousand physicians
7. The total would be well over three million prospects
marketing plan, in Hank's handwriting is housed in the
Stepping Stones Archives in Bedford Hills, NY. Both Bill
and Hank were thinking in the millions. Not only millions
of people who would purchase this new book, but in the
millions of dollars it would generate.
had met Hank at Towns Hospital, which was located at 293
Central Park West in NYC. Hank had been a Vice President
at Standard Oil of New Jersey. Hank had been fired due
to his drinking and he was one of the first "converts"
Bill worked with who stayed sober for any length of time.
Hank had opened a small office in Newark, NJ at 17 William
Street. It was in that office on the sixth floor that
Ruth Hock, then Hank's secretary and later Bill's, was
to type the dictations and hand-written pages Bill gave
to her which later formed the Big Book.
funds to publish
and Hank had no funds to publish the book so Bill decided
to visit with his brother-in-law, Dr. Leonard V. Strong.
Dr. Strong was married to Bill's sister, Dorothy and was
the personal physician to the entire Wilson family. Dr.
Strong knew people connected to John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
who had fought for the Constitutional Amendment dealing
with Prohibition. Mr. Rockefeller also was known to have
given vast sums of money towards the cause of prohibition.
Strong remembered that he had once dated the niece of
Willard Richardson who happened to be the person in charge
of Mr. Rockefeller's Church Charities. Mr. Richardson
was so excited about the new project he invited Dr. Strong
and Bill to come over to Mr. Rockefeller's offices the
next day. Dr. Strong could not attend but gave Bill a
letter of introduction to bring with him. That letter
was dated October 26, 1937.
Richardson liked the idea for the book so much that he
wrote a letter to Dr. Strong. This letter, dated November
10, 1937 proposed another meeting to be held in Mr. Rockefeller's
Private Board Room in December.
chairperson for that meeting was Mr. Albert Scott, Chairman
of the Board of Trustees of Riverside Church in NYC. After
a detailed explanation of this new book and fellowship
was made, Mr. Scott proclaimed, "Why, this is First
Century Christianity! What can we do to help?"
thought that the result of such a proposal would be the
influx of millions of dollars into the movement by the
Rockefeller people. He told those assembled that all they
really needed was an undisclosed sum of seed money to
help with the book project. He further explained that
the profits from the sales of hundreds and thousands of
books would eventually get the movement on its feet and
and the other recovered alcoholics present were asked
about the need for money by the Rockefeller staff. "Won't
money spoil this thing?" They were questioned about
money creating a professional class that would spoil the
success of working man-to-man and that chains of hospitals,
property and prestige would be a "fatal diversion."
was decided to send Mr. Frank Amos of the Rockefeller
staff to Akron to investigate this new fellowship. He
was to go the very next week.
will be revealed