For Today --


How Did The "I'm An Alcoholic" Custom Start?  -- "I'M AN ALCOHOLIC, MY NAME IS ________"

Who was the first to start a meeting or a qualification with the statement, "I'm an alcoholic"?

How did the worldwide custom begin? As late co-founder Bill W. used to observe: “Nobody invented AA. It just grew." And so probably did its classic introduction at meetings. "Many  members ask these questions." says G.S.O. archivist, Frank M.  "Unfortunately, only a few earlytimers are left, and not many of them are able to produce plausible theories. So we can only speculate. According to an early friend of AA, the late Henrietta Seiberling, the expression dates back to meetings of AAs forerunner, The Oxford Group Movement, which had its heyday in the early 1930's. Mrs. Seiberling, a non-alcoholic who had sought spiritual help in the Oxford Group meetings, introduced Bill to AAs other founder, Dr. Bob, then struggling to get sober in the Oxford Group. At small meetings, the members knew one another and didnt need to identify themselves. But in the large "public" meetings, there was witnessing," along the lines of an AA talk today, so personal identification became necessary. Chances are that someone at sometime said, I'm an alcoholic" but, Mrs. Seiberling wasn't sure. Nor did she remember that the phrase was used at early AA meetings in Akron, before publication of the Big Book. In fact, she said the word alcoholic" was rarely uttered, at least in Akron. People referred to themselves as  runks" or "rum hounds" or boozers" or other epithets reminiscent of the Temperance Movement that gained adherents during prohibition. An early New York AA first heard the expression as I'm an alcoholic and my name is...". According to his recollection, that was after World War II, in 1945 or 1946. And it is a matter of record that, in 1947, a documentary film, "I'm  an alcoholic" was produced by RKO. From there on, as Bill might say, the custom "just grew."


--  "The Messenger", June 2001




Truths emerge from facts, but they dip forward into facts again and add to them; which facts again create or reveal new truth (the word is indifferent) and so on indefinitely. The 'facts'  themselves meanwhile are not true. They simply are. Truth is the function of the beliefs that start and terminate among them.


-- William James




Sometimes the whole tribe would assemble and sing and pray; sometimes a smaller number of two or three would gather.


-- Geronimo,  Apache Chief 



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