Ed Webster, a founding member of the Nicollet Group of Minneapolis began teaching “Twelve Step Study” classes to other members of the local fellowship in 1942. By 1946, The Grapevine reported that according to the group’s records, 75% of its members achieved recovery. This phenomenal success was attributed in large part to Ed’s contributions. Ed and Barry Collins, another founding member of Minneapolis A.A., decided to collect the lectures in a small publication originally titled The Twelve Steps but later nicknamed “The Little Red Book.”
Though never officially a part of the A.A. canon of conference-approved literature, The Little Red Book was endorsed by both Dr. Bob, who had a hand in its writing, and by Bill W. Bill W. wrote Barry Collins about the Minneapolis book in November 1950:
The Little Red Book does fill a definite need and has wide circulation. Therefore, its usefulness is unquestioned. AA has a definite place for such a book. Someday I may try to write an introduction book myself which I hope might complement favorably with The Little Red Book. Here at the Foundation we are not policemen; we’re a service and AAs are free to read any book they choose.
This month’s offering from the Archives is a letter dated May 31, 1949 from Bill W. to Ed Webster thanking him for his contribution to the fellowship.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.
AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes.
Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Before there was a "Big Book", Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, the "AA Grapevine" or General Service -- before there were meetings, clubs, conventions or any AA literature -- before there was an H&I committee, there was a visit to an Akron hospital where "one drunk talked to another."