Bill W. on Anonymity

Bill writes about this vital Tradition in 1946…


A Tradition Born of Our Anonymity

In the years that lie ahead the principle of anonymity will undoubtedly become a part of our vital Tradition.

Even today, we sense its practical value. But more important still, we are beginning to feel that The word “anonymous” has for us an immense spiritual significance. Subtly but powerfully it reminds us that we are always to place principles before personalities; that we have renounced personal glorification in public; that our movement not only preaches, but actually practices a truly humble modesty. That the practice of anonymity in our public relations has already had a profound effect upon us, and upon our millions of friends in the outside world, there can hardly be doubt. Anonymity is already a cornerstone of our public relations policy.

How this idea first originated and subsequently took hold of us is an interesting bit of AA history. In the years before the publication of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, we had no name. Nameless, formless, our essential principles of recovery still under debate and test, we were just a group of drinkers groping our way along what we hoped would be the road to freedom. Once we became sure that our feet were set on the right track, we decided upon a book in which we could tell other alcoholics the good news. As the book took form we inscribed in it the essence of our experience. It was the product of thousands of hours of discussion. It truly represented the collective voice, heart, and conscience of those of us who had pioneered the first four years of AA. As the day of publication approached we racked our brains to find a name for the volume. We must have considered at least two hundred titles. Thinking up titles and voting upon them at meetings became one of our main activities. A great welter of discussion and I finally narrowed our choice to a single pair of names. Should we call the new book The Way Out or should we call it Alcoholics Anonymous?

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