A Good Question by a Good Writer

Not too long ago, my friend Mel B., who is a prolific writer for A.A. and Hazelden, graciously thanked me for a copy of one of my historical books. Then he said: “Dick, I now have a shelf of your books. Where does it all end?” That’s a good question. And the answer lies in how it all began and what gave rise to my search. Actually, Mel played a role in that beginning, along with A.A.’s former archivist Frank M. (now deceased), Dr. Bob’s son Smitty, Willard Hunter (an Oxford Group veteran), a small A.A. group, and myself. We presented two large conferences on early A.A. history in Marin County, California, in the early 1990’s. Each event was called “A Day in Marin.” And each program went to the heart of A.A.’s spiritual beginnings, with the foregoing men as speakers.

The State of Our Spiritual Roots History When the Search Began

Much has been uncovered and discovered about early A.A. in this last decade. But let’s start with what we had by about 1990.

In 1954, Bill Wilson and his secretary Nell Wing began taping their interviews of our A.A. founders and pioneers. In 1957, after A.A.’s St. Louis Convention was over, Bill felt it appropriate to publish a work he called Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A. Over a span of twenty-six years, in more than 150 articles, Bill also wrote other bits, pieces, and fragments of history. And these were later published in 1988 by the AA Grapevine, Inc. in The Language of the Heart. Dr. Bob died much earlier, on November 16, 1950; and Bill died on January 24, 1971. And you’ve just seen the basic spiritual history we had during that earlier period.

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