The Founding of AA – A Story in Pictures – Page 1

In keeping with AA Tradition (Tradition Eleven), this website will not

publish recognizable images of AA members who are alive or recently

deceased. All of the personal photos in this section have previously been featured in publications of AA World Services, Inc, and are reprinted with permission. We will carry the story of AA further as time permits us to develop this part of our site. The accompanying text is drawn from AA publications (Pass It On, Dr Bob and the Good Oldtimers and AA Comes of Age) and recollections of oldtimer members. It has not been approved by AA World Services, Inc or the AA General Service Conference. Every reasonable effort has been made to insure the accuracy of the information contained here, but no guarantee is expressed or implied.

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Seiberling Gatehouse

Photo: Gatehouse of the Seiberling Estate, Akron.
Dr Bob’s wife Anne had known Bill from the beginning, as she had driven “Smitty” to the Mothers’ Day meeting here. She was grateful for Bill’s help, and at her insistence he soon became a houseguest at the Smiths’ home. Bill continued his proxy battle by day, and the new friendship was cemented during many late-night conversations about how they might apply Oxford Group principles to the problem of alcoholism.

Photo: Anne Ripley Smith, Dr Bob’s beloved wife,

was a student at Wellesley College when they met; they were married seventeen years later. Anne was great source of encouragement to the fledgling Fellowship. All Akron meetings in those days were “open” meetings -following Oxford Group traditions – and involved family members as well as the alcoholics themselves. Bob and Anne welcomed the newly recovering alcoholics into their modest home.

855 Ardmore

Photo: 855 Ardmore Ave, Akron. The Smiths’ family home.
After several weeks of sobriety, Dr Bob felt he could safely go to the American Medical Association convention in Atlantic City. He was drunk before the train left the Akron station, and a mighty bender ensued. Upon his return, he dried out for several days but was still having the shakes when his sober friend Bill gave him his last drink – a bottle of beer – to steady his nerves so he could perform surgery that afternoon. After the surgery Bob spent the balance of his first day of sobriety making amends to people he had harmed. He never had another drink.

Photo: Dr Bob (L) and Bill seated in Akron, 1949.

Dr Bob’s last drink was on June 10, 1935, now considered by Alcoholics Anonymous to be the date of its founding – the first day of the permanent sobriety of the second member of the Fellowship. Almost immediately the two set out on a vigorous search for more alcoholics to help, and soon there was a third person sober.

Bill W (R) and Dr Bob


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