1950 First A.A. International Convention

Alcoholics Anonymous has it's First International Convention

  In July 1950, Alcoholics Anonymous’ 15th anniversary is marked with it's 1st International Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, with some 3,000 people in attendance. One of the most significant events is the adoption of the Twelve Traditions. The convention, held at the Cleveland Public Auditorium (below), also features the last public message to the Fellowship by Dr. Bob, who stresses, in his brief remarks, kindness and “keeping it simple.”

Postcard showing the Cleveland Public Auditorium
  At the 1950 convention, which took place from Friday morning through Sunday afternoon, July 28-30, the program was far more ambitious and substantive than the earlier celebration. It was the first to have workshops and panel meetings on subjects that set the pattern for future conventions. There was a session on Hospitalization of Alcoholics, at which Bill Wilson entered wearing beautiful lei over his right shoulder. He explained that it was sent in gratitude by a group of people who would never be able to attend the Conference or any other A.A. meeting than their own. It was from the A.A. group in the leper colony in the Solomon Islands. There was a workshop on A.A. in Correctional Institutions with Warden Clinton Duffy of San Quentin as the principal speaker. There was a panel meeting on A.A. in Industry in which personnel directors of large companies described their alcoholism programs and how A.A. cooperated with them.
  There was a special session for Women members on Friday and another for Young People in A.A. on Saturday! The editors, writers and managers of A.A. publications had a symposium of their own. A banquet, followed by entertainment and dancing took place Saturday night. And on Sunday morning, a meeting on "The Spiritual Significance of A.A." set the pattern for Sunday morning "spiritual meetings" at countless get-togethers ever since. Bill reported later, "Several thousand of us crowded into the Cleveland Music Hall for the Tradition meeting, which was thought by most A.A.'s to the high point of our Conference. Six old-time stalwarts, coming from places as far flung as Boston and San Diego, beautifully reviewed the years of A.A. experience which had let to the writing of our Traditions." Bill was then asked to sum up the Traditions, which he did in the words of the long form. "So summing up, I then inquired if those present had any objections to the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous as they stood. Hearing none, I offered the A.A. Traditions for adoption. Impressively unanimous, the crowd stood up. So ended that fine hour in which we of Alcoholics Anonymous took our Destiny by the hand."
  Ken S. was in that crowd in 1950, and in the even larger crowd that filled the ballroom at the Hotel Cleveland the next afternoon for the Big Meeting to hear the co-founders speak. "I remember Dr. Bob clinging on to the podium with both hands," Ken recalls. "He didn't talk over ten minutes, and I always like to remember especially his advice near the end, 'Let us also remember to guard that erring member, the tongue...'"
  Bill wrote afterward, "Earlier [in the Conference) we thought he'd never make it, his illness was so severe. Seeing him once again was an experience we thousands shall always treasure. He left us a great heritage by which A.A. can surely grow...The legacy of one who saw our first Group to success, and one who, in the 15 years since, had given both medical help and vital A.A. to 4,000 of our afflicted...Simplicity, devotion, steadfastness and loyalty. . . these were [his] hallmarks."
Ken S. remembers two men coming out to help Dr. Bob off the platform, and Al S., the Trustee who drove him back to Akron immediately afterward, recalls he slept most of the way. He died three and a half months later.

The Year

1950

July 28th - 30th

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