The Dr. Bob Core Library, St. Johnsbury, VT
Where It Is
North Congregational Church (UCC) of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, is presently located on Main Street in the charming village of St. Johnsbury. This was the family church regularly attended by Dr. Robert H. Smith (A.A.’s Dr. Bob) and by all the Smith family during Bob’s days as a youngster. Three, and sometimes four, times a week. Judge Walter P. Smith and Susan H. Smith (Bob’s parents) were there. Young Bob was there until his graduation from St. Johnsbury Academy. His foster sister Amanda Northrup was there. And his grandmother was there. The church archives and other records show the extensive involvement of the Smiths. The Judge as a deacon, Sunday school superintendent, Sunday school teacher, and Executive Committee member. Mrs. Walter Smith as the person in charge of the church school, a Sunday school superintendant and teacher, church historian, leader of women’s groups, and choir member. Bob attended all three Sunday services and often the Wednesday evening prayer meeting. He was active in the Young People’s Christian Endeavor Society of the Church.
The present church has made a room available just right of the church entrance where the Dr. Bob Core Library is set out on shelves especially prepared for that purpose.
What is in the Library
Lots more to come. And many of the additional items will make some really new Dr. Bob treasures available. These are presently awaiting pick-up on Maui and some conservation proceedings.
Already, there are some 2000 manuscripts, papers, and pamphlets from the church archives, from St. Johnsbury Academy, from the local newspaper, from the town library (the Athenaeum), and from Christian Endeavor that tell about the village, the church, the important families, the Smiths, the YMCA, the town history, the town directories, the Sunday school teachings, the church Year Books, the sermons, and the activities of Judge and Mrs. Smith.
Also, a large number of relevant A.A. books are there. A complete set of the Dick B. 29 Volume Christian Recovery Reference Set. Many biographies, Vermont historical books, A.A. history books and articles, and complimentary copies of Dick B.’s books—Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous and Dr. Bob and His Library, 3rd ed. A large collection of United Christian Endeavor Society books is there. Books on Vermont Men. Books on North Congregational Church. Books on the YMCA. Books on the Great Awakening of 1875. And books about New England Congregationalism, its St. Johnsbury work, and the leadership of the famous Fairbanks families in its churches, missionary work, and cooperation with the YMCA.
Why It Was Recently Established
Dr. Bob was called the “Prince of all Twelfth-steppers.” His wife Anne Ripley Smith was called the “Mother of A.A.” and a founder of Akron Number One. Yet the only significant literature about either one of them is to be found in Dick B.’s books—and not in Akron. This despite the fact that Akron was the founding place of A.A.—at the Smith Home on 855 Ardmore Avenue.
Early A.A. was focused on the Bible. God, His Son Jesus Christ. The Bible played a major role in the origins, founding, program, and successes of A.A. And yet the real origin of these foci was Vermont—not Ohio. Both Bill and Bob grew up in Vermont. Both Bill and Bob attended Congregational Churches as youngsters in Vermont. Their parents and grandparents attended these Vermont churches. Both Bill and Bob studied the Bible in Vermont. Both Bill and Bob attended Vermont Academies (Burr and Burton, and St. Johnsbury, respectively) where there was required daily chapel, weekly church attendance, Bible study, and extensive YMCA involvement. Moreover, both cofounders attended Sunday schools and churches where becoming children of God through coming to Jesus Christ, and study of the Bible were greatly emphasized. Both men were exposed to the effect of conversion to Christ in helping alcoholics get well.
In short, the original A.A. program in Akron encompassed the very things that Bill and Bob had learned and been exposed to in Vermont. These included conversions, salvation, Bible study, revivals, evangelism, Quiet Time, Christian fellowship, witnessing by lay evangelists, and the importance of prayer. But these are not the historical facts that are found or documented in Akron today. They are in St. Johnsbury. And, for Christians and for those concerned with real A.A. historical origins and practices, Vermont is the place to look.
The Dr. Bob Core Library in St. Johnsbury fits the bill. Two major sources of this history are our recent books Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous and The Conversion of Bill W. See www.dickb.com/drbobofaa.shtml and www.dickb.com/conversion.shtml.