Old AA Guides & Pamphlets

Scroll down to skip the article and see our collection of historical AA literature and links to rare and vintage AA pamphlets and such. The article simply explains the importance of group sponsored literature in the healthy functioning of an AA group. 


AA The Original Way - 12 Step Guide is the culmination of years of practice and study of group sponsored step guides written by founders and pioneer AA members. One of the first of these guides, The Akron Manual, was commissioned by Dr. Bob shortly after the Big Book was published. He felt they needed a simple guide that their group could give to newcomers. Our step guide is a tool that a sponsor can use to take a newcomer through the steps.  We don't force it on anyone but it is there to assure that our groups primary purpose can be fulfilled. It incorporates many of the pamphlets posted below.  This list below is far from complete. It is a good place to start to get an idea of the historical importance of group sponsored literature in the development of Alcoholics Anonymous.

What about "Conference Approved Literature"?  Check out the link but the bottom line is that AA is has no literature police. Whatever a group wants to read in a meeting they are free to read in a meeting. Conference Approved means AA can print and profit from the publishing. It also helps insure the AA message is not polluted. Many AA members have made the mistake of assuming Conference Approved Literature means that the only thing that can be read in a meeting is "conference approved. This is incorrect as can be attested by AA GSO, Bill Wilson and many other founding members. Remember, the 1st edition of the Big Book is not conference approved. Let's not confuse publishing permission with what we can and cannot read in meetings. 


How It Works OriginalHow it Works - Original Draft with Edits


Why are old AA pamphlets important today?


Group sponsored literature has historically been a vital part of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was not uncommon for early AA groups to publish guides or pamphlets. Today it is rare but still happens. Dr. Bob knew right off the bat that the directions in the Big Book could be hard to follow for a newcomer so he had a group pamphlet written. Other groups followed suit. They knew that without clear directions, sponsorship becomes confusing. It was important to them that a clear simple message was passed on from sponsor to sponsee. Sponsors were usually given to a newcomer. They were not expected to ask someone. New drunks seldom have a clue how to pick a sponsor; drinking buddy? Sure! Sponsor? Not so much. So they were generally given a sponsor who had experience going through the steps.

Today may be no different than the 40's but it seems clear today that newcomers are sometimes misinformed or discouraged with complex step work. There are things invented and passed on that have nothing to do with the simple program our founders discovered.  Sometimes complex step work is presented to the newcomer as if it says to do it that way in the Big Book. This can be a problem because newly sober alcoholics often have a hard time keeping things simple. If they are presented with a program that is already over complicated by their sponsors they have less chance of getting sober. And even worse they may conclude "If that is the steps as laid out in the Big Book then AA is too complicated for me. I can't do it."


Dr Bob's prescription pad. Keeping it simple.


The message is simple but alcoholics have a tendency to complicate things. The 5th tradition leaves it up to the group conscience, not individual members,  to spot these things and address them when they affect the primary purpose of that group.  But how often does anyone ever get asked how they are taking someone through the steps at their home-group business meeting? Isn't this the single most important question for a group to ask itself???

Bill Wilson's handwritten summary of the "Original AA Steps", April, 1953:
Bill Wilson AA original Steps

Notice how Bill emphasizes "HOPELESSNESS" in step one. The gives context to why powerlessness and unmanageability are seldom mentioned in the Big Book. "Hopelessness" is mentioned dozens of times, from beginning to end. This defines the insanity mentioned in step 2. The insanity of the "first drink" despite knowing it is "hopeless".

Group pamphlets and guides are an important way that sponsorship is passed on. It helps prevent the word of mouth program from being drastically altered, over complicated or misinterpreted. The pioneers were protective of the message. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. This tradition evolved out of the early groups intense passion for helping alcoholics. Their gratitude became action. The founders discovered something amazing. A way of working 12 steps and having a Spiritual Experience that conquered alcoholism! Groups wanted to preserve that way for future generations. Clean House. Trust God. Help Others. Simple. Now let's pass it on! Together!

One of the great guides below is The Tablemate. This was a very popular guide and was adopted nationally by many groups. It is still in use today. Beginners groups were often created based on this guide. The Little Red Book that Dr. Bob helped Ed Webster edit is said to have emanated from the great success of these Tablemate beginners meetings. Many of these meetings had newcomers and sponsors going through all the steps together, four times a year. The steps were literally taken by newcomers, with their sponsors in the meeting. (with the exception of the fourth and fifth steps, these were usually done privately.) Success rates are said to be at 90% for those who do the steps this way for one year. It is only because they wrote this down that anyone knows about it today. This is a clear example of why Group Sponsored Literature is vital. 


RARE AND VINTAGE AA LITERATURE

 

1940's- 15 Points For An Alcoholic To Consider When Confronted With An Urge To Take A Drink.

There are many great ones. Below are some of the classics and some good new ones.
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 4:14 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
May 22, 2014, 5:21 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
May 22, 2014, 5:19 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
May 22, 2014, 5:18 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
May 22, 2014, 5:21 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 4:18 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 4:15 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
Mar 21, 2016, 5:39 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 4:15 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 4:14 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 4:17 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
Apr 25, 2017, 9:22 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 4:16 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
Mar 21, 2016, 5:19 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
May 22, 2014, 5:16 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Mar 21, 2016, 5:39 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Mar 21, 2016, 5:12 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Aug 14, 2013, 6:31 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
May 22, 2014, 5:23 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 5:08 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
Mar 21, 2016, 5:39 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
May 22, 2014, 5:17 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
May 22, 2014, 5:17 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 4:15 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
Aug 14, 2013, 6:49 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 4:16 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2013, 4:16 PM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2014, 7:26 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jun 26, 2014, 5:18 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Mar 21, 2016, 5:39 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
May 22, 2014, 5:20 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Aug 2, 2014, 7:09 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
May 22, 2014, 5:20 AM
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Archie AATOWG,
Jul 28, 2014, 7:27 AM
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