— Mission and Purpose —

The mission of the Area 59 Archives is to document permanently the work of Alcoholics Anonymous in Area 59, to make the history of Area 59 accessible to A.A. members and other researchers, and to provide a context for under standing A.A.’s progression, principles and traditions as evidenced in Area 59.

Consistent with A.A.’s primary purpose of maintaining our sobriety and helping other alcoholics achieve recovery, the Archives of Area 59 will:

  • Receive, classify and index all relevant material, such as administrative files and records, correspondence and artifacts considered to have historical importance to Area 59;
  • Hold and preserve such material;
  • Provide access to these materials, as determined by the Archivist in consultation with the Area officers, to members of Alcoholics Anonymous and to others who may have a valid need to review such material, contingent upon a commitment to preserve the anonymity of our members;
  • Serve as a resource to stimulate and nourish learning;
  • Provide information services to assist the operations of Alcoholics Anonymous in Area 59;
  • Promote knowledge and understanding of the origins, goals and program of A.A. in Area 59.

Bill W. stated that the purpose of the Archives was
“to keep the record straight so that myth does not predominate over fact as to the history of the Fellowship.”

Quote attributed to Carl Sandburg:
“Whenever a society or civilization declines or perishes there is always one condition present; they forgot where they came from.”

Bill W. – 1957:
“There is both a need and an obligation to save the history of our Fellowship within our Area. To be preserved for present and future generations. It is highly important that the factual material be placed in our files in such a way that there can be no substantial distortion.”

For questions or requests for any information please contact:
Area Archivist, Donald H. archivist@area59aa.org or Area Assistant Archivist, Jack C. asstarchivist@area59aa.org

Area 59 Archives Walking Tour – Introduction

Join Area Archivist Donald H. on an informative walk through the Area 59 Archives Display Room.

In this first segment, we are introduced to the center of the room which contains (48) District binders that contain the Group histories, in alphabetical order, that have been submitted to our Archivist over the years.

In Part I we learn about the formation and growth of the Temperance Movement

  • Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1784, proposes the disease concept
  • Abraham Lincoln addresses the Springfield Washingtonian Society in 1842
  • Temperance Family Pledges become commonplace and are featured in many family Bibles
  • Temperance Unions begin to flourish throughout the country
  • Books such as Grappling with the Monster, The Temperance Movement or The Conflict Between Man and Alcohol, and Six Nights with the Washingtonians become best sellers

Part II is a review of the Emmanual Movement which originated in Boston, Massachusetts in 1906

  • Formed by Rev. Dr. Elwood Worcester and Rev. Dr. Samual McComb
  • Offered a psychological approach to religious group healing for alcoholic men
  • Proposed that all sufferers could be helped by redirecting their attention from themselves to helping others
  • Published the books Religion and Medicine and The Christian Religion as a Healing Power

In Part III we are introduced to Dr. Franklin Buchman and The Oxford Group

  • Attended high school in Allentown, Muhlenberg College, and Mt. Airy Seminary
  • In 1902 he was ordained a Lutheran minister
  • 1921 formed First Century Christian Fellowship (also called The Groups)
  • In 1931 The Oxford Group takes shape
  • They made use of popular books of the time, Soul Surgery, Why I believe in the Oxford Group, Believing In False Gods – I was a Pagan, and For Sinners Only

In Part IV we learn how Bill W. got sober and took the message to Dr. Bob

  • Rowland brings the Common Solution to Ebby (Edwin Throckmorton Thacher)
  • The role of the Calvary Episcopal Church and Rev. Samual Shoemaker
  • Ebby introduces Bill Wilson to the Oxford Group with American headquarters at Calvary Episcopal Church
  • Bill W. goes back to Town’s Hospital for the final time and works with William D. Silkworth, M.D
  • Bill W. has his last drink
  • Bill W. travels to Akron, Ohio on a business trip, staying at the Mayflower Hotel
  • Henrietta Seiberling connects Bill W. with Dr. Bob (Robert Smith)

Part V is a history of the publication of "Alcoholics Anonymous" (the Big Book)

  • The Book that Started it All  by “Anonymous,” contains the original working manuscript
  • Writing the Big Bookthe Creation of A.A. by William Schaberg
  • Overview of the different Editions and printings over the years
  • Liberty magazine article by Morris Markley
  • The Saturday Evening Post article by Jack Alexander

Part VI informs us about the creation and role that Area 59 has had in A.A.

  • A common thread – Jack Buchman and the Oxford Group
  • The growth of Members and Groups in Area 59
  • A directory from 1951 with current Members and Groups
  • Letters between Jimmy B. and Bill W.
  • Letters between Dr. Carl Jung and Bill W.
  • Flyers and programs through the years
  • Area Days, Share A Days, Mini-Assemblies, and EPGSA Convention

Area 59 Archives Walking Tour – Full Version

  • Introduction
  • Part I
  • Part II
  • Part III
  • Part IV
  • Part V
  • Part VI

Mary R. Interview

Wife of Lou R., the first African-American Delegate to the General Service Conference (1967–68).

Conducted by Patricia F. (past Delegate 2015-2016)

Click on boxes below to reveal historically significant documents preserved in our Area 59 Archives: