Alcoholics Anonymous was founded 74 years ago on June 10 1934, in Akron, Ohio. On that day, Dr. Robert Smith, a prominent Akron surgeon, completed his first official day of sobriety. Dr. Bob, as he was known, and William "Bill W." Wilson, a successful Wall Street stockbroker, are considered the founding fathers of the organization that has helped lead thousands through a life without alcohol.
The origins of Alcoholics Anonymous can be traced to the Oxford Group, a religious movement popular in the United States and Europe in the early 20th century. Members of the Oxford Group believed in self-improvement by performing self-inventory, admitting wrongs, making amends, using prayer and meditation and carrying the message to others.
Bill W. learned from a former schoolmate that the Oxford Group had helped others stop drinking. In December 1934, he used the group's principles and he, too, ceased using alcohol. Unsuccessful in his efforts to reach alcoholics in New York, Bill W. eventually moved to Akron for work. There, he was introduced to Henrietta Seiberling, daughter-in-law of the founder of Goodyear Rubber Co. and an Oxford adherent. She arranged for him to meet Dr. Bob, whom she had been trying to get to stop drinking for two years.
Bill W. told his story, inspiring Dr. Bob to share his own. Dr. Bob relapsed, but he recovered and took his last drink on June 10, 1935. The two men developed an approach to reach other alcoholics.
Some other facts about Alcoholics Anonymous:
* In 1938, Bill W. started writing a book to outline a program for alcoholics to follow. The Twelve Step program was developed, inspired by the teachings of others and the Oxford Group's six-step program.
* In April 1939, 5,000 copies of the Big Book titled Alcoholics Anonymous, written by Bill W., rolled off the press. The 20 millionth book was presented at a ceremony in 2000.
* The Serenity Prayer was introduced at A.A. meetings in 1941.
Source: aa.org and AA celebrates 74th birthday, The Record e-Edition, (Wednesday, June 10, 2009), NorthJersey.com
For a more detailed outline of the history of AA visit www.aa.org/aatimeline
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