REQUEST FOR GROUP HISTORY
“Whenever a society or civilization perishes there is always one
condition present; they forgot where they came from.”-Carl Sandberg
GUIDELINES FOR WRITING AN AA GROUP HISTORY
Compiling and writing your group’s history will be an exciting and rewarding experience. By the
time you have finished, you will probably know more about the group’s history and evolution
than any other member. You will gain a better understanding of what past members went
through to establish and maintain your group, and how the local AA service structure developed.
Knowing your group’s history will help you better understand how it fits into the total AA
experience, and you will see that it is a vital part of the living fellowship of Alcoholics
The ideal group history should trace the evolution of your group in story form– some
combination of descriptive information and the group’s past experience, strength, hope and
tribulations. For a group that has been in existence for several years, your history might only be
a few paragraphs. A long-established active group’s history might be several pages long. Don’t
worry about form. The important thing is to get the information down on paper; you can worry
about literary style later when editing.
A good way to start is by talking to the old-timers in your group, who can help compile a list of
names of the earliest members. Some key people may no longer attend group meetings or may
have moved; track them down if possible. You might want to have a meeting of old timers; they
often jog each other’s memories when they get to reminisce about the “good old days!”
Consider having a joint meeting of old-timers from several groups in the district. Be sure to
record (audio only) such meetings, as it is difficult to keep up with accurate note taking and send
copies of any recordings to your Archive Committee.
As you document the group history, you will begin to detect gaps in the story. Talk to the old-
timers one-on-one. You will know better what questions to ask at this point, and your increasing
awareness will help you guide the conversation to fill in the information you need. You may be
surprised at how many events outside of the group itself are vital in explaining its history.
With members’ consent, include their full names in the original history so researchers and
historians can separate members with similar or the same first name. Also note any nicknames
the members used. If copies are distributed for checking, etc., it’s wise to replace last names
with an initial to preserve anonymity. When your history is drafted, share it with old timers and
other members. Remember that it is their history. They will be helpful in filling in missing
information and putting that final touch on the group history.
When the history is complete, make copies for your group, email it to your District Archivist (or
DCM), and to the Area Archivist. This last step is very important. We need to have a central
location for the histories of all the groups in our area so we will know where to find them. This
will be the resource from which the histories can be retrieved in the event the copy at the district
level is lost or misplaced– a not-uncommon experience.
We are particularly interested in some anecdotes and “colour”. Our history will be far more
interesting if it is about people as well as facts. Ask your members to talk about the most
unforgettable characters they know in AA. Which members have been the most dedicated and
helpful? There must be some wonderful stories in our area. Let’s preserve these stories for
Please email histories to: firstname.lastname@example.org