Last updated:
December 05, 2015

Alcoholics Anonymous History
Henrietta B. Seiberling
Ohio's Lady with a Cause
By Dick B.

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Henrietta B. Seiberling
Ohio's Lady with a Cause

Henrietta B. Seiberling: Ohio's Lady with a Cause by Dick B.This is the first full and accurate account of A.A.’s real beginnings in Akron, Ohio. And a good deal more. Never before has there been gathered in one book the real events that lead to the actual beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous on Mother’s Day, 1939, when Henrietta Seiberling introduced A.A.’s two founders to each other at her home at the Gate Lodge of the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, a huge mansion built by rubber industry tycoon Frank A. Seiberling in 1910 when his Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company was making great strides.

The following subtitle gives you a picture of the scope of this little book’s contents: “The Story of Akron’s Pioneer A.A. Christian Fellowship, Its Oxford Group Encounters, and a Non-alcoholic Woman’s Role in Helping Found Early A.A.’s Unique Spiritual Program for Curing Alcoholics.”

To set the scene, there is a brief sketch of Henrietta’s own beginnings, beliefs, problems, and life. Next comes a brand new over-view of A.A.’s origins. First is the distorted historical picture today with confusion over the date of founding, confusion over which was the “original” A.A. program, and the tangled sources involved in the founding. Second, there is a succinct, but careful review of the six major religious roots that author Dick B. has unearthed and discussed in many previous titles. Then for the history-hungry reader, there is a new and important discussion of less mentioned, less researched, yet significant roots: (1) Carl Jung and his books. (2) William James and his books. (3) The “New Thought” writings that crept into Bill Wilson’s Big Book via Christian Science, Ralph Waldo Trine, Emmanuel writers, Emmet Fox, and others—with adequate contrast of these ideas with those Biblical Christian principles and practices in Akron. (4) The suspected impact of the United Christian Endeavor Society of Dr. Bob’s youth and the current research on this matter. And then a call for less restrictive histories, biographies, and literature in those currently telling the 12 Step stories and history.

Pinpointing many unknown or ignored facts about Henrietta’s special role as a non-alcoholic woman who helped found A.A., there are two pages of staccato bullet point one-liners that will assist you in remembering who she was and what she did.

Many A.A. people and histories give undue credit to the Oxford Group influence on A.A. Mostly as a jumping-off place for criticizing this group. But the real facts will surprise you. This book tells how the Oxford Group entered the Akron scene via Harvey Firestone, Bud Firestone, Rev. Sam Shoemaker, and Jim Newton. Then in a new and refreshing account, there is the story of what Henrietta Seiberling did from that point on. She was able to utilize the famous 1933 Akron Oxford Group extravaganza in her unrelenting efforts to help Dr. Bob quit drinking and bring relief to his wife Anne. Notions that the Oxford Group, the Bible, church, prayer, God, and religion failed are positively and authoritatively dispelled by showing that it was Dr. Bob’s own insistent refusal to resist temptation and abstain that were the problem. Then Henrietta’s revelation about Bob, her group’s prayer for and with Bob, and the miraculous founding events that followed almost immediately. These facts will give you a new perspective on the prayers, the power of the Creator, and Dr. Bob’s own believing to set the Akron miracle and founding in motion.

One more time, author Dick B. shows the sharp contrast between the Akron Christian Fellowship program that was developed by Bob and Bill primarily in the summer of 1935 and the far less effective Oxford Group experiences before and after in the New York arena. The difference between Oxford Group practices and objectives and those of Wilson in New York are highlighted. And then, once again by this author, there is a careful review of the seven very specific ingredients that made the Akron Christian Fellowship successful in its program for the spiritual cure of alcoholism. Though some are newly critical of, and distorting the facts about the importance of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13, the detours are re-routed into a better understanding of what Akron was really focused on. This portion concludes with a very real picture of the “real” “original” A.A. program and the need for honesty about it. It tells what that program wasn’t and then what it was. And the discussion is sure to drive today’s history revisionists, New Thought proponents, and universalism advocates straight up a tree. For the truth will make you free, but it will not set well with some of today’s analysts.

There is a brief chapter on A.A.’s exit from the Oxford Group. First in New York by the Wilson's. Then in Cleveland by Clarence Snyder et. al. And finally by most of the remaining Akron pioneers in the early 1940’s. There is a thorough discussion of the Oxford Group’s very limited impact on A.A., except through the teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker and the resultant language of the 12 Steps that Bill Wilson wrote.

The book concludes with a short page, titled “Let go and Let God.” And we will let the reader learn for himself or herself about that. There is a selected, but adequate bibliography that was used by the author and will help you do your own verification.

If you are looking for the latest in complete historical research of A.A., then this is the book for you.

Contents of Henrietta B. Seiberling: Ohio’s Lady with a Cause

Chap. 1:           A Brief Glance at Henrietta’s Life

Chap. 2:           An Accurate Description of A.A.’s Real Spiritual Roots

Chap. 3:           Henrietta’s Special Role as a Non-Alcoholic Woman Who Helped Found A.A.

Chap. 4:           Akron’s Oxford Group Encounters

Chap. 5:           Distinguishing Akron’s Program from Bill’s Later 12 Steps

Chap. 6:           The Exit of the Oxford Group: Observations about A.A.’s Connection with the Oxford Group

Chap. 7:           Let Go and Let God

Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006; 6 x 9; perfect bound; 84 pages; Price $20.95; ISBN 1-0885803-44-3


Dick B.'s son Ken
P.O. Box 837
Kihei, Hawaii
Tel.: (808) 276-4945
Fax: (808) 874-4876

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