What is “AA History”?

Editor’s Note: Following up on last week’s post about the Alcoholics Anonymous National Archives Workshop, Points this week welcomes the comments of Guest Blogger Ernie Kurtz, the author of Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous (1979) and the pre-eminent historian of AA– a title that, as he notes below, he is eager to shed. 

The Apex of Antiquity: Coffee Pot from Bill W. & Dr. Bob's First Meeting (Brown University Libraries)

“What is AA history?”  It is (at least) two things:  (1) the story of the AA fellowship and its program from its founding in 1935 to the present, as researched, examined, and studied according to the canons of historical investigation;  and (2) the equally ongoing research into and investigation of AA antiquities – details apparently only marginally related to the continuing story but of interest to hobbyists and antiquarians.   To its credit, the “AA History Lovers” listserv (founded by Nancy Olson in 2000 and maintained by Glenn Chesnut of the Hindsfoot Foundation) generously serves both.

Both kinds of AA history are valuable to understanding the fellowship – perhaps moreso than is the case with many other phenomena that have similarly enthusiastic followers. 

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