AA History Timeline

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.

Dr. Bob’s Birthplace  Dr. Bob’s VT Home 
   Bill W.'s VT Home
Towns Hospital     Towns Hospital
Akron Hotel    Mayflower Hotel

Seiberling's Home    Seiberling Home 
St. Thomas Hospital, Akron, Ohio - AA History TimelineSt. Thomas Hospital
Dr. Bob's Akron Home Dr. Bob's OH Home
Wilson's Stepping Stones Home   Bill W.'s NY Home

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, Ohio

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 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  up
              November: Ebby visits Bill, his old Vermont drinking buddy, and tells him his story
               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 auto 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, thereby inspiring 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
               October: Articles on AA in Cleveland Plain Dealer
               November-December: Akron AA group breaks with Oxford Group; AA on its own
               December: First AA group in mental institution, Rockland State Hospital, New York

1940      January: Akron group finds new home at King School
               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 sponsor
               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 University

1945      Dr. Silkworth and Teddy R. begin working with alcoholics at Knickerbocker Hospital 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      December: Dr. Bob's last major talk in Detroit
               Summer: Diagnosed with cancer; retires from practice

1949      American Psychiatric Association recognizes AA
               June 1: Anne Ripley Smith dies

1950      July 28-30: First International AA Convention meets in Cleveland; adopts Twelve Traditions;
               Dr. Bob’s last public appearance 
               November 16: Dr. Bob dies at Akron City Hospital. For photos of his grave, please click on
               link

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 possessions

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, with theme of
               “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 theme “The
               Joy of Living” 
                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 fifth million 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
               
October 5: Lois Burnham Wilson dies

1995      60th Anniversary International AA Convention held in San Diego, California, with theme of
               “AA Everywhere—Anywhere” 
               December: www.aa.org 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-fifth million 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, with the
               theme of “A Vision for You”

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

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

2020      July 2-5: 81st Anniversary International AA Convention, Detroit Michigan - Cancelled
               due to Covid-19 pandemic 

2021    April 17-25: At an online meeting, the 71st General Services Conference approves a revised
             version of the AA Preamble which changes the description of AA as being a fellowship of
             “men and women” to one that is of  “people”
             June: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services publishes a revised  edition of the 12&12 which
             changes the words “mate of the opposite sex” in Step Twelve to “partner”