Correcting Errors in the 'Approved' A.A. History

New Material Has Fined Tuned Some of the Official Version

A.A. World Services Office
Archives at the A.A. World Services Office. AA.org

Before continuing on with this series of articles about AA History we would like to take this brief opportunity to respond to a question asked by many of the readers. In fact, it was the most prevalent question submitted to this writer.

The question related to why some of the information contained in the articles either could not be found in the AA Conference-Approved Literature, or appeared to contradict that which is found there.

Most of the readers referred to AA Comes Of Age, Dr. Bob and the Good Old-timers and Pass It On.

New Information Uncovered

Over the past 20 years, several historians, non-AA members and AA members alike have been delving into AA's history. The fascination with AA as one of the greatest social and spiritual movement of the 20th Century has grown in leaps and bounds, considering its growth and success.

A plethora of information has been uncovered by these researchers, much of which reveals new material or a "fine tuning" of already existing information.

Facts and Documentation

Names, dates and other "facts," backed up by solid documentation show that some of the historical data contained within the pages of AA Conference-Approved literature is not accurate. Other data even sheds new light upon AA's History which was hitherto unknown.

In true historical research, the FACTS outweigh the desire to make the story sound good.

Facts should be backed-up by documentation and the sound recollections of several sources. Unfortunately, virtually all of the early AA members have passed on. Several of them have left behind recorded oral histories outlining their experiences.

Classified Documentation

Many of these oral histories were recorded during their later years and as with many people of their age, their memories may be flawed.

Without the written documentation from the era they refer to, some of the information they spoke about cannot be verified.

However, there is a lot of written documentation located in the AA Archives' of several Central Offices, private collections and the Archives at the AA World Service Office in New York City.

'Classified' Information Unavailable

Due to confidentiality restrictions much of this documentation has been declared "classified" and as such, made unavailable to researchers and AA members alike. Bill W. wished for AA's History to be preserved for future generations of members of the Fellowship. Bill was never clear as to which generation or what future he was talking about.

Members of AA may only view and study materials, which are already in the public domain. These include published books, magazine articles and that which has been released by the AA Archives in their areas or at the National level.

Clarifying Some Inaccuracies

Rightfully so, most researchers have to go through a lengthy process to study the other materials contained within these archival repositories.

Even then, there are still many documents, which still remain unavailable.

Due to the diligent work of many researchers, this new material which often clarifies some of the inaccuracies contained in the "official" AA literature, has been brought to the attention of the AA World Services Office in New York. They have been given the opportunity to rectify this difference and have chosen not to.

In All Our Affairs?

This writer has written to the Board of Trustees of AA and to the Trustee's Archives Committee outlining the results of our own research and the research of other historians.

We have asked that the history be updated to reflect this new documentation and have asked that the AA literature be changed accordingly. Several months have passed and they have chosen not to respond to our letters.

And When We Were Wrong...

As an AA member, this writer has chosen to accept the suggested Steps and Traditions in my life, as a way of life. The Board of Trustees are supposed to be the guardians of these same Steps and Traditions. What we question is why the Board of Trustees feels itself above, and immune to following what they were entrusted to be guardians of?

Step 10 of AA states that we, "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." The documentation, which revealed the inaccuracies show that some of the materials contained in the "official" literature, was in error.

We Don't Have All the Ansers

The Board of Trustees was made aware of these errors. Yet, they have chosen not to follow the 10th Step and admit to, or correct these errors.

AA members are expected to live a life based upon the concept of rigorous honesty. Why then isn't the Board of Trustees, as guardians and Trusted Servants expected to do the same?

We realize that your question as to why there are differences in the articles from the AA literature has not been fully answered. We do not have the answer. Only the Board of Trustees has that answer and they have chosen not to respond. Maybe you, dear reader, can help us in getting the answer. Ask your trusted servants why the story cannot be changed to reflect the truth.

More will be revealed…

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