Monday, 5 September 2011

Bill Wilson and Bob Smith

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Step details and examples: -- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12 - 

Step 1 

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable."
The preceeding "short form" of step one appears simple. Gut level permanence of sobriety, however, "develops slowly over a period of time" as the 12 steps treat underlying causes of compulsion to drink, while retraining us for "contented useful" lives.
Five "One Day At a Time" suggestions were passed down by my sponsor.
---- make a statement that I will not drink for one day; ---- attend at least one AA meeting; ---- talk to another alcoholic of sponsor level sobriety. ---- read AA literature. I read the Big Book Step 11 page 86 about "Upon Awakening......to end of chapter" each day, for several years.
Today, December 2001, my morning prayer includes ---- thanks for yesterday's sobriety, --- Please help me stay away from a drink or drug.--- the p86 statement, "Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be - divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives."I make a statement of thanks before retiring at night and contemplate upon page 86 top paragraph which begins with "On retiring........"

to Steps: -- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12- - 

Step2 

"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity".
About ten years ago I spotted action sentences from the 12&12 about step 2.
"Just resign from the debating society and quit bothering yourself with such deep questions as whether it was the hen or the egg that came first." (about what God and sanity are.)
"The fact is that we had not cleaned house so the Grace of God could enter."
The word sponsor is used about 12 times in 12&12 step 2 . The Big Book, (Alcoholics Anonymous), tells that helper to "walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress" with the new person. Instead of discussing God and insanity in discussion meetings, sane action suggests brief remarks about our use of action tools. "Keep it effectively brief."
Two minutes max in discussion meetings demonstrates sane effective recovery.
Fifteen minutes max in a speaker meeting was suggested by AA's co-founder Bill Wilson.
The Big Book suggests a structured three part story: "What it was like, What happened, and What it is like now."

Steps:-- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12--

Step3

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him."
I don't dwell upon God to a newcomer. Even Atheists can transform their lives with tangible 12 step action to restore rational thinking processes and treat grosser handicaps.
From the 12&12 Step 3 - How to do it,
"We made a beginning by coming to AA."At first this higher power is likely to be our closest AA friend, our sponsor, who points out that coming to meetings is a good beginning but a far cry from a contented useful life. That is just where the remaining steps come in."
From the Big Book Step 4 p64
"Though our decision was vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions."
While improving mentally and physically, then, Step 11 suggests improving understanding of whatever external power(s) we choose.

Steps:-- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12-- 

Step 4

Has 6 parts in this version - The Big Book includes 4 parts. The 12&12 added thoroughness in Step 8 and assets in step 4. Our Life's Names- Resentments - Turnarounds - Fears - Sex - Asset's 5 subject, spiral bound, full size, college ruled binder is most popular in our area for the 4th step writing.
Part One - "Our Life's Names" is a master index which I added in response to a 12&12 step 8 sentence about an amends list.
"To a degree, he has already done this (list) when taking moral inventory, but now the time has come when he ought to redouble his efforts to see how many people he has hurt, and in what ways."
Because both the 12&12 and the Big Book state that the step 8 list begins with step 4, thoroughness is enhanced with this extra measure from the start. (for approx 10 years, this has been well received)
On 3 columns, front and back, of the first 10 pages of our notebook, list names of persons, institutions or principles as they enter our mind. Not necessarily resentments, this unclutters minds and enhances emotional balance for a hundred or more friends during eight years of use.
OUR LIFE'S NAMES - some may eventually qualify for resentment and/or amends work. An R pg _ _ and/or A pg _ _, can be added later for quick finding of that work.
Wife Mary -- R pg11, A1


Judge Wapner -- R pg12


Marriage -- R pg12
Add names whenever

Son Jim -- R pg13
they come to mind.

GMAC -- R pg14 A1
They may not be perceived as

Gas Attendant Joe
resentments or amends

Janice R pg15 A2
Not at this time.

Part Two <> "List of Resentments" a.k.a "Grudge List." from BBp65
From Big Book page 65 on the back of sheet 10 in our notebook, we write headings on the top. Also use section 2 for this. It is not unusual to need another notebook for the resentments -- turnaround process.
Example of listing a resentment (grudge).
I'm resentful at:

The cause:

Affects my:

Mergantha
She's a meanie!
Self Esteem

She got restraining order
Emotional security

She let me spend all our money
Material Security


Ambitions


Personal relations


Sex relations(Note, in the 12&12, Bill W divided security (BBp65) into Material and Emotional.)
Every Big Book step 4 sentence offers guidance on thinking and acting to overcome the repetition and suffering of resentments. The 4th step prayer paragraph is thought by my friends as particularly effective each time we ponder a newly processed resentment. Big Book page 66 :
This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done. We avoid retaliation or argument.
So far, we have described the resentment.
We frequently contemplate the 4th step prayer.
Next is a structured analysis of the description.
We learn how to perceive and retrain defects in thinking and acting that contributed to the episode.
Called the "Turnarounds" in our East Coast Big Book Step Study groups founded on Cape Cod, the 4 Big Book basic flaws are: Selfish; Dishonest; Self Seeking; Frightened? (BBp67).
The 12&12 added specific manifestations of the BB four.
These are the seven cardinal sins. Note (again) - the 12&12 does not repeat but adds to the AA Big Book.
The 12&12 forward stresses this important point.
The two books are not either/or, but are both-together for the entire AA 12 step process.
In the Turnarounds, we contemplate and write a short phrase about each "Affects my:" that applied in previous description of the resentment. Thoroughness with Turnarounds clearly exposes our flawed thinking and acting.
How to act effectively from now forward relates to 12&12 instructions in step five. "We must be willing to accept guidance and advice." I also try to teach how to research solutions for problems that triggered our past drinking.
As 4th and 5th steppers learn how to research "sane ideals" and to spot "flaws which block us", gradually they become freed of underlying causes of addictions and undesired types of dependence. Next is an example of a "Turnaround" - a name created by the Hyannis BBSS groups for the analysis of each "Affects my" from the resentment description. From the BB p67, Where had we been.....
Turnarounds
Selfish: (our Thinking): I wanted her to act the way I wanted her to act // I wanted her to think I was the greatest// I wanted her to depend on me // I wanted her to work more // wanted her to be a willing partner// I wanted sex only when I wanted it//I wanted............

These statements of selfishness describe our personal thoughts for each "Affects my:" from the left page. We don't put the action on the thought here. We describe the action under Self Seeking.
Dishonest: (Analysis): Illegal to hit her // Was copping out by drinking //Irrational to think I can not be happy if she leaves me // I did not have effective communication skills. // Irrational to think that it was her fault // Not realistic to think I can sleep around without arousing suspicion //..........
Consider all else written on this page as we list:
Conflicts with the law and religious principles of choice.
Indiscreet actions, Self delusion, Irrational thinking, Rationalization, Lack of skills -- particularly communication.
Self Seeking: (action or omission of action)(emotions = feelings in action!): I drank that night // I hit her //I slept with Suzy Q // Now I am sober // I'm putting into action my decision to work the 12 steps // I don't cheat on my beloved bimbo // I take care of the kids first after my sobriety // I treat my wife as if she is a sick Alanon-- (page 452, BB) //
The action or omission of appropriate action. Did we drink, etc, over this resentment?
What would a recovered person do today in a similar event? We probably don't accurately know up to this phase of recovery.
We become willing to accept advice and guidance from others who have surmounted similar difficulties.
Frightened: (Feelings): Fear she won't keep me // Fear I may need to find have another place to ive // Fear I will flip out // Fear I will drink // Fear I'll never a healthy relation // Fear I won't get along with people ever // Fear I won't feel sexually full filled //Fear of................//Fear that...........
"We ask God to remove the fear that... (Fear Prayer - AA Big Book p67)
........plug in the specific fears one at a time here.............
and direct my attention to what you would have me be."
"At once we commence to outgrow fear ! "
"FEARS" from BBp67 -- write in notebook section 3
What specifically, were we afraid of ?
As we write the Fears in the preceding section, AA's Big Book suggests the "Fear Prayer" BB p 68.
In the 3rd section of our notebook, we set aside 2 pages to list the general natures of recurring fears from the previous sections. We add known fears which did not relate to resentments.
After the 2 pages above in section 3, we answer BBp68 questions for each fear on one page each.
Fear of people's opinions

Why did we have them? e.g. People criticized me // I felt I was ugly //
When, where and how did the general nature of this recurring fear begin? As a kid, I got bored and noisy // My father then beat me // .....
Wasn't it because self reliance failed us? Yes, I see now that I did not know how to be think and act //I did not know that strong persons utilize affirmation and wisdom of others who are effective.
This fear was irrational due to my lack of understanding.

-Sex Inventory
Part four <> "Now about sex." from BBp68 - write in Notebook section 4
In section 4 of our 5 section notebook , some of us answer questions on Big Book page 68-70 3rd ed and the 12&12 page 119 for each episode.
Suzy Q
Where had we been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate? I only saw her after drinking with my friends // I told her I was working late // I did not call //...........
Whom had we hurt? I caused her and her parents much anguish //............
Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Yes, I would not recognize my alcoholism //I was short tempered // ..............
We got this all down on paper and looked at it.
Where were we at fault, what should we have done instead? I should have called her // I should have left her //...................
We subjected each relation to this test -was it selfish or not? Yep // I only used her for a feel-real-good rush // ..................
Was compatibility at spiritual, emotional and mental levels a fact and not wishful thinking? I am a mental health client with meds, she is not . // I am hyperactive, she is calm //..............
I have just begun step 4, she has been through the steps at least once and helps others do the steps - hmm?
update 3/21/03 - An AA emailed his concern that I ignored part of the 4th step. The following quote from the Big Book includes prayers and directions how to think and act about sex.
"In this way (above writing) we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. - We subjected each relation to this test -was it selfish or not? - We asked God to mould our ideals and help us to live up to them. - We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed.
Whatever our ideal turns out to be, we must be willing to grow toward it.
-We must be willing to make amends where we have done harm, provided that we do not bring about still more harm in so doing. In other words, we treat sex as we would any other problem. - In meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matter. The right answer will come, if we want it.
God alone can judge our sex situation. Counsel with persons is often desirable, but we let God be the final judge. We realize that some people are as fanatical about sex as others are loose. We avoid hysterical thinking or advice.
Suppose we fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk. Some people tell us so. But this is only a half-truth. It depends on us and on our motives. If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned our lesson. If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to drink. We are not theorizing. These are facts out of our experience.
To sum up about sex: We earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing. If sex is very troublesome, we throw ourselves the harder into helping others. We think of their needs and work for them. This takes us out of ourselves. It quiets the imperious urge, when to yield would mean heartache."
"ASSETS (12&12 p46), and other status."
NOTE - March 14, 2003 - This updatable assessment of our condition is similar to the various inventories described in the 12&12 Step 10.

Recovery_Main_Page ,Print Format Step4-OurLife'sNames -Resentments - Fears - Sex - Assets.Steps -- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12-- - step 4 worksheets

Step 5

- Dec 2001 - From AA's Big Book " We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world." to BB Step 5.
Since discussing my first 4th step with a Psychologist -- (one Big Book option for a 5th step helper), my perception of the 5th step has widened. Grasping the "Exact nature of wrongs" is much more than unloading moral defects. Flawed and omitted actions written in the 4th step under Self Seekingtrigger the Big Book question,
"What should we have done instead?"
I can not over emphasize the value of every sentence about step five in both the book Alcoholics Anonymous, (Big Book) and it's broadening and deepening, The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, (12&12). Several excerpts from the 12&12 suggest a widened scope of effective 5th stepping additional to the Big Book's "precise" clearest directions.
"The benefit of talking to another person is that we can get his direct comment and counsel on our situation, and there can be no doubt in our minds what that advice is."
"Only by discussing ourselves, holding back nothing, only by being willing to take advice and accept direction could we set foot on the road to straight thinking, solid honesty, and genuine humility."
-Added February 25, 2002 For my first 5th step, I literally followed a Big Book option from the sentences,
"If we cannot or would rather not do this, we search our acquaintance for a close-mouthed, understanding friend. Perhaps our doctor or psychologist will be the person. It may be one of our own family, but we cannot disclose anything to our wives or our parents which will hurt them and make them unhappy."
Looking back, I am grateful for that decision for myself. I sought a new psychologist for me for that task. First visit, I gave him a Big Book in order that he could read about steps 4 and 5.
The next five visits, we read my notebooks, one resentment at a time down through the "Referring to our list again............" analysis, then fears that had not revealed during the resentment part, then the sex episodes with answers to questions on pages 68 through 70 (BB 3rd ed).
What that psychologist did, I now regard essential to my condition today.
He discussed each episode. Psychologists and the next medical level up - Psychiatrists, in my experience, have had enough additional education and scope of experience to thoroughly listen and develop direction about all aspects of lives of most prospects.
Certified Counsellors of my knowledge, who have less required years of training, may specialize in areas such as family counselling. They may not be as adequately trained for all things they hear from a thorough 4th step. Usually, they are competent to know when to refer certain tweaks elsewhere.
Therapists, a rung further down the ladder of training, may not in my state, be certified at all. These should be chosen carefully, perhaps with the advice and blessing of a higher level professional - doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
Many readers probably know all of this. But, I have learned from experience to not blindly assume that another has all necessary insights about our life and death journey through recovery.
Fascinating that the 12&amp;12 5th step added words about accepting advice and guidance. They also added qualifications,
"We shall want to speak with someone who is experienced, who not only has stayed dry but has been able to surmount other serious difficulties. Difficulties, perhaps, like our own. "
Realistically, most AA's have honest intent, but may not been challenged with. then reliably surmounted types of difficulties we may present. Again, we mean well, but may not perceive some limitations.
I try to follow AA suggestions from the Sponsorship Q&A pamphlet about having more than one sponsor. One reason given is to gain different viewpoints. I feel more secure about my sponsees if they also use a high level professional when more abstract needs exist.
The end of Big Book's step 5 reads:
"Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what we have done. We thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better. Taking this book down from our shelf we turn to the page which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last. Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand? If we can answer to our satisfaction, we then look at


Steps:-- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12-- 

Step 6.

Early in my Big Book Step Study days, I heard that, "Entire" willingness to be rid of defects of character is a product of thorough work on steps 4 &5. Note that step 6 in the Big Book is but a few lines.
I'll never forget the feeling near the end of my first step 5 , that obsessions with lust and anger could be removed. Entire willingness to proceed had occurred!
A year or so later, a deeper layer of discontent surfaced. I had intended a thorough, perfect series of steps the first try, but what happened? Once again, the 12&12 offered a shot of reality. In it's Step 3, are the words,
"Nothing short of continuous action upon these (remaining steps) as a way of life can bring the much-desired result."
"Progress not perfection" appears a timely reminder at moments of confusion and doubt about the veracity of AA's 12 step program. Heard at this morning's meeting,
"Don't drink and do the next thing right."


Steps:-- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12-- 

Step 7

The short form of step 7 begins with "Humbly asked.........."
A tangible definition for humility helped me understand step 7. From the 12&12 step 5 is:
"Another great dividend we may expect from confiding our defects to another human being is humility-a word often misunderstood. To those who have made progress in A.A., it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be. Therefore, our first practical move toward humility must consist of recognizing our deficiencies."
For me, therefore, thoroughness with steps 4 and 5 created step 6 willingness and step 7 humility as defined above. Big Book step 7 prayer reads, "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen. We have then completed Step Seven."
The words shortcomings and defects of character are different, in my opinion. Like many other AAs, I interchanged them at first. But, I felt uneasy. Today I regard a defect of character as thinking that conflicts with recovered ideals.
A shortcoming is tangible action or omission of responsible action that fall short of recovered behavior. It could be thought of as a defect of character in action, or omission of appropriate action by a responsible person.
Considerable relief occurred knowing that it is impossible to delete all undesirable thoughts. However, healthy action can be within our willingness to act correctly regardless of feelings and occasional wrong thoughts.
Repetition of recovered behaviors develops intuitive responses to things which used to baffle and frustrate us. Former faulty responses to life's events may pop into mind. Quickly however, newly learned and practiced thinking and acting overpower the old ways.
The 7th step prayer mysteriously and gratefully hastens this process for me in stubborn situations.
"It works it really does." (BB end of ch 6)


Steps:-- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12--

Step 8

- Made a list of those we harmed................My experience with step 8 went the path of early AA's.
"We made it (the list) when we took inventory." (BB step 8).However, during a score of years after those words were published, AAs observed that some folks harmed were not resented, feared or sex objects - (the three parts of the Big Book inventory format.)A significant update appeared in 12&12's step 8. About the amends list, "To a degree, he has already done this when taking moral inventory, but now the time has come when he ought to redouble his efforts to see how many people he has hurt, and in what ways."
The 12& 12 discusses emotional and other damage to those not necessarily resented, feared or romanced. We sincerely intended to love many people, but actually abused them at times with our "isms".
About ten years ago, I added OUR LIFE'S NAMES in front of step 4 notebooks. It is a "master index" of our lives inspired by that 12&12 direction that, "he ought to redouble his efforts..............."
I may be in a minority that has added a master index to the front of the 4th step inventory. It's use, however, is well received. Our Life's Names appears to unclutter and calm the minds of 4 thro 9 steppers. When in doubt, put the name down. Simple !
Each time a name, principle or institution pops into mind, we add it in the 3 columns on both sides of ten pages in the front of the inventory book.Obvious resentments are processed with the Big Book Step 4 outline.
Gradually, we see our part and the harms to others.
We add an "A" beside the name in "Our Life's Names."
Little by little, we gain understanding of subtler harms to others we did not resent or romance. The 12&12 adds to the Big Book about less obvious behaviors that affect relations with others. Update to step 8 - 1/28/03

to Steps -- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12

Step 9


- Made amends except when to do so would harm.......(12&12)......and have begun, by our behavior and example, to convince those about us that we are indeed changing for the better,.......
Credibility of amends assumes that damaging behavior has been treated and changed during steps 1, by not drinking, and 2 through 8, by achieving non abusive sobriety.
Every sentence in the Big Book and the 12& 12 has guidance for the different settings that warrant amends. Please read these books together over and over about step 9, in order to not cause more harm.


Steps:-- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12-- 

Step 10

- Continued to take inventory.................From the Big Book p84 3rd ed,
"Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime."
By step 9, we probably have improved grosser flaws in our makeup. About ten years sober, with 8 years of Big Book focused step work, my sober life still had rough edges. I returned to college at age 57, studied Interpersonal and Group Communications, Logic, Psychologies - 101, Abnormal, Child , Adolescent - Crisis Intervention/Counseling, etc.
Gradually, I added 12&12 step meetings. I believe now that the 12&12 was inspired by early AA's struggling with rough edges even after grosser defects were treated by the Big Book. The 12&12 Steps 8 thro 12 plus the Traditions add much guidance to correct thinking behind rough edges of behavior.
Again from the Big Book p84, perhaps my most important alternatives to drinking,
"Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.
When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them.
We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone.
Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help.
Love and tolerance of others is our code."

Steps:-- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12-- 

Step 11

St. Francis Prayer in the 12&12 confronted me about motives during my early AA days . "By self forgetting, one finds." Some years later, the Big Book words loomed out with similar wisdom. "Resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help."
Most helpful to meditation about powers outside of myself were Big Book page 86 directions for starting and ending each day at a time. Link to p86 directions with comments.
With the linked page up or the Big Book open to page 86, consider that the first paragraphs directions calm and prepare the mind. Then we are in better state to consider changes in our usual opinions. We are ready for later directions such as "see where religious people are right" and "There are other helpful books also."
After a few hundred daily readings of p 86 , I heard mention in an AA meeting of the book "Sermon on the Mount" by Emmett Fox. Fox's book is reported as a main reference of AA's co founders before publishing the first Big Book. Indeed, my reading "The Sermon on the Mount" improved and even reversed many flawed perceptions of religion and God. Please read this reference revered by Bill and Bob. After AA's Big Book, many friends feel Fox's book to be most enlightening about step 11.


Steps:-- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12-- 

Step 12


-- Three major parts --
-- Having had a spiritual awakening.....-- Practice these principles in all our affairs......-- Carry this message........
I can not stress enough that the 12&12 did not repeat the Big Book's clearcut directions for effective communication with a suffering alcoholic. Please read the Big Book chapter "Working with Others" over and over before saying much more than hello to prospects for AA.
I've come to value the 12&12's step 12 as a "check list" for self evaluation of one's recovering condition. This extra measure of rigorous honesty of one's self may be surprising. We can benefit much by careful contemplation of each comment about interpersonal relations, motives, etc.
Please carefully read both book's step 12. Big Book's step 12 opens with:
"Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail."

Steps:-- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11-- 12-- 




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Where Did The 12 Steps Come From?
by Bill W.
July 1953 A.A. Grap
evine

AAs are always asking: "Where did the Twelve Steps come from?" In the last analysis, perhaps nobody knows. Yet some of the events which led to their formulation are as clear to me as though they took place yesterday.

So far as people were concerned, the main channels of inspiration for our Steps were three in number -- the Oxford Groups, Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital and the famed psychologist, William James, called by some the father of modern psychology. The story of how these streams of influence were brought together and how they led to the writing of our Twelve Steps is exciting and in spots downright incredible.

Many of us will remember the Oxford Groups as a modern evangelical movement which flourished in the 1920's and early 30's, led by a one-time Lutheran minister, Dr. Frank Buchman. The Oxford Groups of that day threw heavy emphasis on personal work, one member with another. AA's Twelfth Step had its origin in that vital practice. The moral backbone of the "O.G." was absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness and absolute love. They also practiced a type of confession, which they called "sharing"; the making of amends for harms done they called "restitution." They believed deeply in their "quiet time," a meditation practiced by groups and individuals alike, in which the guidance of God was sought for every detail of living, great or small.

These basic ideas were not new; they could have been found elsewhere. But the saving thing for us first alcoholics who contacted the Oxford Groupers was that they laid great stress on these particular principles. And fortunate for us was the fact that the Groupers took special pains not to interfere with one's personal religious views. Their society, like ours later on, saw the need to be strictly non-denominational.

In the late summer of 1934, my well-loved alcoholic friend and schoolmate "Ebbie" had fallen in with these good folks and had promptly sobered up. Being an alcoholic, and rather on the obstinate side, he hadn't been able to "buy" all the Oxford Group ideas and attitudes. Nevertheless, he was moved by their deep sincerity and felt mighty grateful for the fact that their ministrations had, for the time being, lifted his obsession to drink.

When he arrived in New York in the late fall of 1934, Ebbie thought at once of me. On a bleak November day he rang up. Soon he was looking at me across our kitchen table at 182 Clinton Street,BrooklynNew York. As I remember that conversation, he constantly used phrases like these: "I found I couldn't run my own life;" "I had to get honest with myself and somebody else;" "I had to make restitution for the damage I had done;" "I had to pray to God for guidance and strength, even though I wasn't sure there was any God;" "And after I'd tried hard to do these things I found that my craving for alcohol left." Then over and over Ebbie would say something like this: "Bill, it isn't a bit like being on the water wagon. You don't fight the desire to drink -- you get released from it. I never had such a feeling before."
Such was the sum of what Ebbie had extracted from his Oxford Group friends and had transmitted to me that day. While these simple ideas were not new, they certainly hit me like tons of brick. Today we understand just why that was . . . one alcoholic was talking to another as no one else can.

Two or three weeks later, December 11th to be exact, I staggered into the Charles B. Towns Hospital, that famous drying-out emporium on Central Park West, New York City. I'd been there before, so I knew and already loved the doctor in charge -- Dr. Silkworth. It was he who was soon to contribute a very great idea without which AA could never had succeeded. For years he had been proclaiming alcoholism an illness, an obsession of the mind coupled with an allergy of the body. By now I knew this meant me. I also understood what a fatal combination these twin ogres could be. Of course, I'd once hoped to be among the small percentage of victims who now and then escape their vengeance. But this outside hope was now gone. I was about to hit bottom. That verdict of science -- the obsession that condemned me to drink and the allergy that condemned me to die -- was about to do the trick. That's where the medical science, personified by this benign little doctor, began to fit it in. Held in the hands of one alcoholic talking to the next, this double-edged truth was a sledgehammer which could shatter the tough alcoholic's ego at depth and lay him wide open to the grace of God.

In my case it was of course Dr. Silkworth who swung the sledge while my friend Ebbie carried to me the spiritual principles and the grace which brought on my sudden spiritual awakening at the hospital three days later. [ Dec. 14, 1934 ] I immediately knew that I was a free man. And with this astonishing experience came a feeling of wonderful certainty that great numbers of alcoholics might one day enjoy the priceless gift which had been bestowed upon me.

Third Influence

At this point a third stream of influence entered my life through the pages of William James' book, "Varieties of Religious Experience." Somebody had brought it to my hospital room. Following my sudden experience, Dr. Silkworth had taken great pains to convince me that I was not hallucinated. But WilliamJames did even more. Not only, he said, could spiritual experiences make people saner, they could transform men and women so that they could do, feel and believe what had hitherto been impossible to them. It mattered little whether these awakenings were sudden or gradual, their variety could be almost infinite. But the biggest payoff of that noted book was this: in most of the cases described, those who had been transformed were hopeless people. In some controlling area of their lives they had met absolute defeat. Well, that was me all right. In complete defeat, with no hope or faith whatever, I had made an appeal to a Higher Power. I had taken Step One of today's AA program -- "admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable." I'd also taken Step Three -- "made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him." Thus was I set free. It was just as simple, yet just as mysterious, as that.

These realizations were so exciting that I instantly joined up with the Oxford Groups. But to their consternation I insisted on devoting myself exclusively to drunks. This was disturbing to the O.G.'s on two counts. Firstly, they wanted to help save the whole world. Secondly, their luck with drunks had been poor. Just as I joined they had been working over a batch of alcoholics who had proved disappointing indeed. One of them, it was rumored, had flippantly cast his shoe through a valuable stained glass window of an Episcopal church across the alley from O.G. headquarters. Neither did they take kindly to my repeated declaration that it shouldn't take long to sober up all the drunks in the world. They rightly declared that my conceit was still immense.

Something Missing

After some six months of violent exertion with scores of alcoholics which I found at a nearby mission and Towns Hospital, it began to look like the Groupers were right. I hadn't sobered up anybody. In Brooklyn we always had a houseful of drinkers living with us, sometimes as many as five. My valiant wife, Lois, once arrived home from work to find three of them fairly tight. They were whaling each other with two-by-fours. Though events like these slowed me down somewhat, the persistent conviction that a way to sobriety could be found never seemed to leave me. There was, though, one bright spot. My sponsor, Ebbie, still clung precariously to his new-found sobriety.

What was the reason for all these fiascoes? If Ebbie and I could achieve sobriety, why couldn't all the rest find it too? Some of those we'd worked on certainly wanted to get well. We speculated day and night why nothing much had happened to them. Maybe they couldn't stand the spiritual pace of the Oxford Group's four absolutes of honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love. In fact some of the alcoholics declared that this was the trouble. The aggressive pressure upon them to get good overnight would make them fly high as geese for a few weeks and then flop dismally. They complained, too, about another form of coercion -- something the Oxford Groupers called "guidance for others." A "team" composed of non-alcoholic Groupers would sit down with an alcoholic and after a "quiet time" would come up with precise instructions as to how the alcoholic should run his own life. As grateful as we were to our O.G. friends, this was sometimes tough to take. It obviously had something to do with the wholesale skidding that went on.

But this wasn't the entire reason for failure. After months I saw the trouble was mainly in me. I had become very aggressive, very cocksure. I talked a lot about my sudden spiritual experience, as though it was something very special. I had been playing the double role of teacher and preacher. In my exhortations I'd forgotten all about the medical side of our malady, and that need for deflation at depth so emphasized by William James had been neglected. We weren't using that medical sledgehammer that Dr. Silkworth had so providentially given us.

Finally, one day, Dr. Silkworth took me back down to my right size. Said he, "Bill, why don't you quit talking so much about that bright light experience of yours, it sounds too crazy. Though I'm convinced that nothing but better morals will make alcoholics really well, I do think you have got the cart before the horse. The point is that alcoholics won't buy all this moral exhortation until they convince themselves that they must. If I were you I'd go after them on the medical basis first. While it has never done any good for me to tell them how fatal their malady is, it might be a very different story if you, a formerly hopeless alcoholic, gave them the bad news. Because of this identification you naturally have with alcoholics, you might be able to penetrate where I can't. Give them the medical business first, and give it to them hard. This might soften them up so they will accept the principles that will really get them well."

Then Came Akron

Shortly after this history-making conversation, I found myself inAkronOhio, on a business venture which promptly collapsed. Alone in the town, I was scared to death of getting drunk. I was no longer a teacher or a preacher, I was an alcoholic who knew that he needed another alcoholic as much as that one could possibly need me. Driven by that urge, I was soon face to face with Dr. Bob. It was at once evident that Dr. Bob knew more of the spiritual things than I did. He also had been in touch with the Oxford Groupers at Akron. But somehow he simply couldn't get sober. Following Dr. Silkworth's advice, I used the medical sledgehammer. I told him what alcoholism was and just how fatal it could be. Apparently this did something to Dr. Bob. On June 10, 1935, he sobered up, never to drink again. When, in 1939, Dr. Bob's story first appeared in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, he put one paragraph of it in italics. Speaking of me, he said: "Of far more importance was the fact that he was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience."

The Missing Link

Dr. Silkworth had indeed supplied us the missing link without which the chain of principles now forged into our Twelve Steps could never have been complete. Then and there, the spark that was to become Alcoholics Anonymous had been struck.

During the next three years after Dr. Bob's recovery our growing groups at AkronNew York and Cleveland evolved the so-called word-of-mouth program of our pioneering time. As we commenced to form a society separate from the Oxford Group, we began to state our principles something like this:

1. We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol.

2. We got honest with ourselves.

3. We got honest with another person, in confidence.

4. We made amends for harms done others.

5. We worked with other alcoholics without demand for prestige or money.

6. We prayed to God to help us to do these things as best we could.

Though these principles were advocated according to the whim or liking of each of us, and though in Akron and Cleveland they still stuck by the O.G. absolutes of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love, this was the gist of our message to incoming alcoholics up to 1939, when our present Twelve Steps were put to paper.

I well remember the evening on which the Twelve Steps was written. I was lying in bed quite dejected and suffering from one of my imaginary ulcer attacks. Four chapters of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, had been roughed out and read in meetings at Akronand New York. We quickly found that everybody wanted to be an author. The hassles as to what should go into our new book were terrific. For example, some wanted a purely psychological book which would draw in alcoholics without scaring them. We could tell them about the "God business" afterwards. A few, led by our wonderful southern friend, Fitz M., wanted a fairly religious book infused with some of the dogma we had picked up from the churches and missions which had tried to help us. The louder the arguments, the more I felt in the middle. It appeared that I wasn't going to be the author at all. I was only going to be an umpire who would decide the contents of the book. This didn't mean, though, that there wasn't terrific enthusiasm for the undertaking. Every one of us was wildly excited at the possibility of getting our message before all those countless alcoholics who still didn't know.

Having arrived at Chapter Five, it seemed high time to state what our program really was. I remember running over in my mind the word-of-mouth phrases then in current use. Jotting these down, they added up to the six named above. Then came the idea that our program ought to be more accurately and clearly stated. Distant readers would have to have precise set of principles. Knowing the alcoholic's ability to rationalize, something airtight would have to be written. We couldn't let the reader wiggle out anywhere. Besides, a more complete statement would help in the chapters to come where we would need to show exactly how the recovery program ought to be worked.

12 Steps in 30 Minutes

At length I began to write on a cheap yellow tablet. I split the word-of-mouth program up into smaller pieces, meanwhile enlarging its scope considerably. Uninspired as I felt, I was surprised that in a short time, perhaps half an hour, I had set down certain principles which, on being counted, turned out to be twelve in number. And for some unaccountable reason, I had moved the idea of God into the Second Step, right up front. Besides, I had named God very liberally throughout the other steps. In one of the steps I had even suggested that the newcomer get down on his knees.

When this document was shown to our New York meeting the protests were many and loud. Our agnostic friends didn't go at all for the idea of kneeling. Others said we were talking altogether too much about God. And anyhow, why should there be twelve steps when we had done fine on six? Let's keep it simple, they said.

This sort of heated discussion went on for days and nights. But out of it all there came a ten-strike for Alcoholics Anonymous. Our agnostic contingent, speared by Hank P. and Jim B., finally convinced us that we must make it easier for people like themselves by using such terms as "a Higher Power" or "God as we understand Him!" Those expressions, as we so well know today, have proved lifesavers for many an alcoholic. They have enabled thousands of us to make a beginning where none could have been made had we left the steps just as I originally wrote them. Happily for us there were no other changes in the original draft and the number of steps stood at twelve. Little did we then guess that our Twelve Steps would soon be widely approved by clergymen of all denominations and even by our latter-day friends, the psychiatrists.

This little fragment of history ought to convince the most skeptical that nobody invented Alcoholics Anonymous.


FootprintsFootprints in the Sand


One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there has only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

Mary Stevenson, 1936
Joe and Charlie Big Book study - Recorded in 1998
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Download the 'Big Book' as a Windows Helpfile
Download here, follow your browsers prompts to install. This download is in .zip format. You must have an unzip program such asWinzip to unzip the file.
The above in PDF for Palm Pilot in Plain Text for Mac

Talks by Father MartinClick here to download all in one zip file.
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Father Martin -giving his 'Chalk Talk'
82 min 25 sec
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Father Martin -'Twelve Steps'
53 min 56 sec
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Father Martin -'Feelings'
68 min 53 sec
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Father Martin -'His Story'
69 min 48 sec
15.9 mb
ALCOHOLICS_ANONYMOUS - this is a large print of the Big Book as a pdf file. This file was created by and sent to me by Major1212major1212@pobox.com

Talks by Father John DoeClick here to download all in one zip file.
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Father John Doe -speaking on resentment #1
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Father John Doe -speaking on resentment #2
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Father John Doe -speaking on resentment #3
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Father John Doe -speaking on sanity #1
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Father John Doe -speaking on sanity #213 min 18 sec1.52 mb
A Study Guide to the AA Big Book -by Ken W.
Access entire AA Big Book Study Guide as a single web page [1.63mb] or Download here [522kb], follow your browsers prompts to install. This download is in .zip format. You must have an unzip program such asWinzip to unzip the file.
above as PDF/1.57mbas a Word Doc/1.59mb as aEXE/584kb

Sandy B. - Saturday Morning Live
Sandy B. of Washington, DC speaking at the Saturday Morning Live Group in Washington, DC in Jan., Feb. and Mar. 1994
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Step 1 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 01/01/94
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Step 2 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 01/08/94
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Step 3 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 01/15/94
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Step 4 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 01/22/94
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Step 5 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 01/29/94
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Step 7 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 02/12/94
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Step 8 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 02/19/94
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Step 9 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 02/26/94
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Step 10 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 03/05/94
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Step 11 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 03/12/94
44 min 18 sec
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Step 12 -Sat. Morning Live Group, Washington, DC - 03/19/94
45 min 11 sec
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Other talks by Sandy B. of Washington, D.C.
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Sandy B. -speaking at Maryland State Convention - 1998
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Sandy B. -speaking at the 28th Gopher State Roundup - May 25th - 27th 2001
61 min 20 sec
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Sandy B. -speaking at Sunlight of the Spirit in York, PA - August 17th 2001
53 min 58 sec
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Sandy B. -speaking on the topic of "Spiritual Principles" in Merietta, GA - October 2002
57 min 10 sec
13.0 mb
Download Random Big Book quotes for Windows
This program generates random Big Book quotes that appear on your computer screen.
Download here and follow your browsers prompts to install. The file is compressed as a self-extracting archive (.exe) format. Just "run" it and it will decompress itself.

Sister Ignatia Gavin and A.A.Sister Ignatia Gavin, a tiny Irish-American nun, helped initiate medical treatment for alcoholics in Akron. It is estimated that during her career,Sister Ignatia helped over 10,000 alcoholics.
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Sister Ignatia -1947
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Sister Ignatia -aslo know as: Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous
31 min 09 sec
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Download 'Fourth Step Inventory' (ZIP-PDF)
Guide includes worksheets to help you complete this important step.
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Ann P. (Irish Annie) from Huntington Beach
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Ann P. -Speaking in El Paso
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Ann P. -Speaking in Orange, CA March 1st 1998
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10.3 mb
 'Diary of Two Motorcycle Hobos' (HTML) *
A Diary by Lois Wilson — Bill and Lois — their journey up and down the east coast of the United States, from Thursday, April 16, 1925 to Monday, April 12, 1927 - Wilson, Lois, Copyright © Ellie van V., 1998 All rights reserved. No part of this work covered by the copyright hereon may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means. All Copyright, Publisher, Printing, as well as contact information, is included in this Read me text file. (Please be sure to read the _Read me.txt file first before openning: diary_index.html)
* Diary of Two Motorcycle Hobos made available here for research and historical purposes only.
* The Stepping Stones Foundation demanded that I remove the above from this site. Diary of Two Motorcycle Hobos is no longer available from silkworth.net for historical and research purposes.
"My Name is Bill W." -The Movie
A Garner-Duchow Productions. Starring James Woods as Bill Wilson, James Garner as Dr. Bob Smith and JoBeth Williams as Lois Wilson. If you have difficulty in viewing this movie, then right click on the link and then choose, "Save Target As" and save the file to your computer so you can view the movie in a Video Player of your choosing. You could also download the free VLC Media Player which seems to work very good. Movie quality: Excellent
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My Name is Bill W. -The true story of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous
100 min
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"When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story"
A Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie. Starring Winona Ryder as Lois Wilson, Barry Pepper as Bill Wilson, Adam Greydon Reid as Ebby Thatcher. If you have difficulty in viewing this movie, then right click on the link and then choose, "Save Target As" and save the file to your computer so you can view the movie in a Video Player of your choosing. Movie quality: Excellent
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When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story
97 min
701 mb


Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith
(cofounders of Alcoholics Anonymous)
Click here to download all in one zip file of Bill W.
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1
Bill W. and Dr. Bob S. -1st International Convention, Cleveland, Ohio 1950
68 min 46 sec
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2
Bill W. -speaking in Atlanta, Georgia 1951
73 min 42 sec
12.7 mb
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3
Bill W. -speaking at the 3rd General Service Convention
59 min 44 sec
10.3 mb
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4
Bill W. -The Spiritual Experience - It's a Matter of Grace - Recorded in 1966
42 min 12 sec
19.4 mb
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5
Bill W. -telling the history of the Big Book
66 min 09 sec
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6
Bill W. -talking on the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous
59 min 29 sec
27.3 mb
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7
Bill W. -speaking on A.A.'s Three Legacies [Part 1]
42 min 51 sec
19.6 mb
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8
Bill W. -speaking on A.A.'s Three Legacies [Part 2]
42 min 51 sec
19.6 mb
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9
Bill W. -speaking at the Oklahoma State Conference in Oklahoma City, OK - May 1951
45 min 42 sec
10.4 mb
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10
Bill W. -2nd Talk Dallas TX 2-1951
114 min 10 sec
26.1 mb
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11
Bill W. -speaking at the 18th Anniversary Dinner NY 11-10-52
43 min 23 sec
9.93 mb
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12
Bill W. -speaking at the 20th Anniversary Dinner NY 11-9-1954
62 min 58 sec
14.4 mb
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Bill W. -1947
18 min 22 sec
4.20 mb
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14
Bill W. -Intoduction of Sam Shoemaker at St Louis MO 7-1-55
33 min 29 sec
7.66 mb
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15
Bill W. -speaking at the Cleveland OH 1st International 1950
73 min 14 sec
16.7 mb
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16
Bill W. -speaking at Will Roger Auditorium Ft Worth TX 6-13-1954
84 min 12 sec
19.2 mb
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17
Bill W. -Reading HOW IT WORKS
5 min 30 sec
1.26 mb
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18
Bill W. -speaking in Memphis, TN 9-20-1947
117 min 32 sec
26.9 mb
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19
Bill W. -Texas State Conference 1954 talk about the book . . .
77 min 37 sec
17.7 mb
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20
Bill W. -Texas State Conference Dallas TX 1951 Part 1 of 2
56 min 28 sec
12.9 mb
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21
Bill W. -Texas State Conference Dallas TX 1951 Part 2 of 2
56 min 36 sec
12.9 mb
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22
Sister Ignatia -speaking about Dr. Bob
32 min 11 sec
7.36 mb
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23
Dr. Bob -from Akron, OH, Sister Ignatia from Akron, OH and Bill W. from New York, NY - April 1947
88 min 09 sec
20.1 mb
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24
Dr. Bob -on the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous
50 min 42 sec
5.8 mb
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25
Dr. Bob -His Last Talk
4 min 11 sec
492 kb

Lois Wilson (Ala-non)
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_1_
Lois Wilson -speaking in West Virginia at the 38th SE Conference, 1982
44 min 10 sec
10.1 mb

Clarence Snyder
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1
Clarence Snyder -from Cleveland, OH - 1966
78 min 04 sec
17.9 mb
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2
Clarence Snyder -11th Step Retreat, Camp Monroe Retreat 07/15/1975
77 min 05 sec
8.8 mb
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3
Clarence Snyder -Giving a history talk in 1975.
88 min 05 sec
10.0 mb
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4
Clarence Snyder -How It Works talk in 1982