Early Women in AA History

There were several women, some alcoholic, some non-alcoholic who each played important roles in the early days of AA’s beginnings. Below are a few we remember with gratitude for their love and service to our fellowship!

  1. Lois Wilson, Bill W.’a wife and founder of Alanon. She sacrificed much, personally and otherwise, to help Bill W. and his new fledging venture in helping others like him. She was with Bill and AA from beginning to end. AA,perhaps, may have been less successful and strong without her loyalty and love.
  2. Sister Ignatia was the nun who admitted the first alcoholic patient to the ward at St. Thomas hospital and worked with Dr. Bob, saving countless lives over the next many years. A great friend of AA!
  3. Ruth Hock was Bill’s secretary and typed the Big Book, as well as gave needed input to it’s editing, along with a number of other professional friends who helped make the Big Book what it is today.She was awarded the five millionth copy of the Big Book in gratitude for her service to AA.
  4. Sylvia K., who wrote the story “Keys of the Kingdom,” was one of the first women in AA to achieve long term sobriety in AA, leading the way for women to sponsor women!!
  5. Henrietta Sieberling was the Oxford Group member who became the go- between connection of the historic meeting of Bill W. and Dr. Bob. She also helped Bill out with his financial difficulties around that time.She was the one who helped Anne Smith and Lois Wilson meet as well.
  6. Marty M. joined AA when there were only two meetings in all of the US and Canada, and wrote the story,”Women Suffer Too.” She later became active on the National Council on Alcoholism and was very influential in changing the public’s perception of alcoholics from that of a moral issue to that alcoholism as a disease.
  7. Anne Smith, Dr. Bob’s wife, was often called “The Mother of AA,” because she always welcomed new people and helped the new wives to love and accept their husbands as men with sick with an illness and to be patient and compassionate. She contributed much to the spiritual influence of AA, and was often quoted a saying,”Faith without works is dead ” which Bill referred to in his story in the Big Book. … In our early days, women coming into recovery faced challenges, due to the fact that AA was predominantly men,some with condescending attitudes toward them, and when women took their seat in the chair, the wives of these alcoholic men were quite jealous as well. When Alanon women started meeting together in, the men begin to wonder what they were saying about them, and some even spied on them!! But due to our spiritual principles and our traditions, women did find and maintain sobriety and continue to carry the message to others who suffer, too!!

Norma A., District 3b/3C Archives