Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Report on the First Nationawide Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference Held in Phoenix

After years and years of a virtual vacuum when it came to literature or talks about Alcoholics Anonymous History, a group of alcoholics and their families gathered in Phoenix to hear and present the First Nationwide Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference, and the book here discussed reports the principal points made.

AAs have had International conferences every five years. They have had regional conferences throughout the United States. Not too long ago, they instituted archives conferences. But these were A.A. meetings per se. The opportunity to have a nationwide, non-A.A. supervised, member participant nationwide A.A. History Conference had really never occurred.

The last significant, complete history account took place when Bill Wilson convened the AAs in St. Louis when, as he put it, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age.[[ASIN:091685602X Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A. A.]]. There Bill had present many of the folks who played a part in early A.A. during its first twenty years. But thereafter, history took a nose dive. Many years later, the "history book from hell" (as one historian described it) was undertaken by two extremely well-paid A.A. "leaders." But the project was finally shelved.

Although extensive research and valuable discoveries were involved after the initial 20 year St. Louis meeting, they were not utilized or reported to any appreciable degree-and certainly not by A.A. itself.

As a result or in spite of the results, there was still a great need for an history conference that covered as much as was then known about the entire early A.A. history and picture. A man in Arizona asked Dick B. to be the principal speaker at such a nationwide gathering. And the conference was held in Phoenix. Dr. Bob's son, Robert R. Smith, joined the speaker's panel, as did Ray Grumney, archivist at Dr. Bob's Home. And an enormous amount of Alcoholics Anonymous History information was laid before the 200 plus people attending from many parts of the United States.

The First Nationwide Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference book relates in full the exclusively history items that were covered. The conference was so successful that The Second Nationwide Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference took place later in the year in Delaware, with several of the same speakers. And its subject matter was reported in the Dick B. book, "When Early AAs Were Cured and Why."

The precedent that was set by the book here reviewed was an important one. The people at A.A.'s offices in New York often said to others that they knew little of the early days because Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob, and most of the pioneers had passed away. Picking up the baton, Dick B. began his Alcoholics Anonymous History quest across the United States, Canada, and Great Britain; and a large number of A.A. History landmarks and facts were disseminated by written publication. But the Phoenix conference was the first to be presented live. And the format and content of this important history convention is one that can and should be emulated in years to come.

Today, there are many talented writers who have discussed very parts of Alcoholics Anonymous History. They certainly are not in harmonious agreement about the subject. But each has something important to contribute to the overall picture--disagreement or not. The Phoenix and Delaware conferences were the last efforts. But they were small and took place some time ago. Meanwhile, the A.A. history community has seen a divided view. The one that Dick B. has taken is concerned with the origins, history, founding, original program, and successes of early A.A. But there is another camp which prefers to leave out all vestiges of A.A.'s biblical roots and even most of the details about A.A.'s later appropriation of Oxford Group life-changing ideas.

Hopefully this first book will restore comprehensive history to its proper place and enable Twelve Step people to apply that history in anonymous fellowships today in order to help alcoholics and addicts who still suffer to achieve the same successes with God's help that were so predominant in the early A.A. Christian Fellowship

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