Practice These Principles
Living the Spiritual Disciplines and Virtues in 12-Step Recovery

AA History Timeline

Wilson Vt. home

Towns Hospital

182 Clinton St.

Mayflower Hotel

Seiberling home

Dr. Bob's home

Akron City H.

St. Thomas H.

1955 Convention

Stepping Stones

A timeline of significant dates and events in AA history, showing the growth and development of what is arguably the most significant spiritual movement of the 20th and thus far of the 21st century, a movement that, by the grace of God, has freed millions from the ravages of alcoholism and other destructive addictions and given us a new way of life.

A link on a Timeline item connects to an expanded post on that item.

1879      August 8: Robert Holbrook Smith born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont

1895      November 26: Bill Wilson born in East Dorset, Vermont

1912      Dr. Bob starts medical practice in Akron

1915      January 25: Dr. Bob marries Anne Ripley

1917      Bill called up by army; has first drink

1918      January 24: Bill marries Lois Burnham

1919      Bill discharged from army; he and Lois move to 182 Clinton Street, her father’s
              apartment in Brooklyn Heights 

1925      Bill starts work as a securities analyst; drinking worsens

1929      Stock market crashes, and so does Bill

1930      Jung pronounces Rowland H. medically hopeless but suggests finding spiritual
              experience, which Rowland does in Oxford Group in NY; first link in AA formation

1933      Bill admitted to Towns Hospital in NY, headed by Dr. William D. Silkworth
              Dr. Bob starts attending Oxford Group meetings in Akron

1934      August: Rowland H. introduces Ebby T. to Oxford Group in NY, where he sobers
              November: Ebby visits Bill, his old Vermont drinking buddy, and tells him his
              December 1: Bill has his last drink and Ebby becomes his sponsor; starts
              attending Oxford Group meeting and forms life-long friendship with Sam
              Shoemaker, its leader and pastor of Calvary Episcopal Church; re-enters
              Towns Hospital and has spiritual experience; starts work with alcoholics

1935      May 12: Bill and Dr. Bob meet in Henrietta Seiberling's house in Akron
              June 10: Dr. Bob has his last drink; date celebrated as founding of AA
              Bill and Dr. Bob carry the message to Bill D., "the man in the bed," AA number 3
              Returning from Akron, Bill is finally successful with two prospects in NY, with
              Towns patients Hank P. and Fitz M. becoming 2nd and 3rd AA members there 

1936      Group conscience meeting at Bill’s home in Brooklyn turns down Dr. Charles B.
              Towns' offer of using hospital to treat alcoholics for a share of the profits,
              originating Tradition 8, which rejects doing 12th-Step work for money

1937      NY alcoholics break away from Oxford Group
              Bill joins Hank P. in what doubles up as business and first AA office at 17 William
              Street, Newark NJ, with Ruth Hock serving as secretary

1938      February: John D. Rockefeller contributes small sum but declines to finance AA,
              suggesting it be self-supporting, inspiring thereby Tradition Seven
              May: The Alcoholic Foundation established as AA trusteeship; Bill begins writing
              of Alcoholics Anonymous
              December: Bill writes out the Twelve Steps

1939      Membership reaches 100
              April: Publication of Alcoholics Anonymous, denominated "the Big Book"
              May 11: Cleveland starts and first names a group Alcoholics Anonymous  
              August: Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia begin work with alcoholics at Akron’s
              St. Thomas
              Hospital, treating 5,000 over next ten years
              September: AA group starts in Chicago
              November-December: Akron AA group breaks with Oxford Group; AA on its own
              December: First AA group in mental institution, Rockland State Hospital, New

1940      AA’s first world service office, Vesey Street, NYC
              First AA Clubhouse, 334 ½ West 24th Street in Chelsea, NYC, where Bill and Lois
              live for a while and Bill meets Father Ed Dowling, who becomes his second
              September: First meeting of Toledo AA group

1941      March 1: Jack Alexander’s Saturday Evening Post article brings AA national
              recognition; membership jumps from 2,000 to 8,000
              Ruth Hock receives copy of Serenity Prayer, published in the New York Herald
              Tribune in June and attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
              Bill and Lois move into a home of their own in Bedford Hills, NY, which they
              call Stepping Stones

1942      Start of first prison group, San Quentin, California

1943      Bill and Lois make first cross-country tour of AA groups
1944      Onset of Bill’s depression, which lasts for 11 years; treated by Dr. Harry Tiebout
              March: First women’s prison group meets at Clinton Farms, Clinton, New Jersey
              June: Publication of first issue of The A.A. Grapevine, AA’s “meeting in print”
              Inspired by Marty M., National Committee for Education on Alcohol set up at Yale

1945      Dr. Silkworth and Teddy R. begin working with alcoholics at Knickerbocker
              in NYC, treating 10,000 over the next ten years
              After “The Lost Weekend,” an Oscar-winning film about a struggling alcoholic,
              Hollywood offers AA $100,000 for rights to Fellowship’s story and is turned down
              in keeping with Traditions Six, Seven, and Eight

1946      The Twelve Traditions published

1948      Dr. Bob diagnosed with cancer; retires from practice

1949      American Psychiatric Association recognizes AA

1950      July 28-30: First International AA Convention meets in Cleveland; adopts Twelve
              Traditions; Dr. Bob’s last appearance
              November 16: Dr. Bob dies at Akron City Hospital

1951      April: Meeting of the First General Service Conference

1953      Publication of book The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

1954      The Alcoholic Foundation becomes the General Service Board

1955      July: 20th Anniversary International AA Convention, St. Louis, where Bill affirms
              AA’s coming of age and passes responsibility for the Three Legacies of Recovery,
              Unity, and Service
              Second edition of Alcoholics Anonymous published
1957      First overseas General Service Board of AA created in Great Britain and Ireland
              Publication of Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: a brief history of A.A.
              AA membership reaches over 200,000 in 7,000 groups in 70 countries and US

1958      “Days of Wine and Roses,” TV production turned into movie in 1963, with AA
              cooperating in both 

1959      A.A. Publishing, Inc. becomes A.A. World Services, Inc.
1960      July: 25th Anniversary International AA Convention, Long Beach, California

1961      Bill’s exchange of letters with Dr. Carl Jung 

1962      Publication of Bill W.’s “Twelve Concepts for World Service”

1965      July: 30th Anniversary International AA Convention, Toronto, Canada, where
              keynote theme is “I Am Responsible”

1966      Change in General Service Board provides for alcoholic majority, with ratio of 2/3
              alcoholic to 1/3 non-alcoholic trustees

1967      Publication of The A.A. Way of Life, now titled As Bill Sees It

1969      October 9-11: First World Service Meeting, NYC, with delegates from 14 countries

1970      35th Anniversary International AA Convention, Miami Beach, Florida; Bill’s last
              public appearance

1971      January 24: Bill dies at Miami Heart Institute, Miami Beach, Florida

1973      Publication of booklet Came to Believe
              April: Alcoholics Anonymous distribution reaches 1,000,000

1975      40th Anniversary International AA Convention, Denver, Colorado, with theme:
              “Let It Begin with Me”
              Publication of book Living Sober

1976      Third edition of Alcoholics Anonymous published
              Worldwide membership estimated at 1,000,000, with about 28,000 groups

1978      Grapevine circulation exceeds 100,000
              Distribution of Alcoholics Anonymous surpasses 2,000,000

1980      45th Anniversary International AA Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana, with 
              "The joy of Living” as its theme
              Publication of Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers: A biography, with recollections of
              early A.A. in the Midwest

1981      August: Distribution of Alcoholics Anonymous passes 3,000,000 mark

1984      Publication of Pass It On: The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message
              reached the world

1985      50th Anniversary International AA Convention, Montreal, Canada, with 45,000 in
              attendance; Ruth Hock, who had typed the original manuscript of the Big Book, is
              presented with its five millionth copy
              Dr. Bob’s house at 855 Ardmore Avenue in Akron is opened to the public

1988      Publication of The Language of the Heart: Bill W.’s Grapevine Writings

1995      60th Anniversary International AA Convention held in San Diego, California, with
              theme of “AA Everywhere—Anywhere”
              December: launched 

2001      Fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous published

2003      Publication of Experience, Strength & Hope, stories from the first three editions of
              Alcoholics Anonymous

2005      70th Anniversary International AA Convention held in Toronto, Canada, where the
              theme of “I Am Responsible” is reprised; twenty-five millionth copy of Alcoholics
              Anonymous given to warden of St. Quentin prison for its support of the
              fellowship’s work among incarcerated alcoholics
2010      75th Anniversary International AA Convention gathers in San Antonio, Texas,
              under the theme of “A Vision for You”

2014      April: Publication of 75th Anniversary Commemorative Edition of Alcoholics

2015      July 2-5: 80th Anniversary International AA Convention, to be held in Atlanta, GA,
              with theme of “80 Years – Happy, Joyous, and Free”