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