In the spring of 1938, Bill Wilson started writing the big book. Also, with the help of the new connections made with people at the Rockefeller charity, The Alcoholic Foundation(now known as the General Service Board) was formed. The Foundation was formed in hopes to raise enough money to support the writing and publication of the Big Book. In the fall of 1938, still, no money was raised through the Foundation. It was then, that early New York AA member Hank Parkhurst, whose story “The Unbeliever” appears in the first edition of the Big Book, convinced Wilson they should retain control over the book by publishing it themselves.
Hank devised a plan to form Works Publishing, Inc., and raise capital by selling its shares to AA members and friends. With Wilson’s knowledge as a stockbroker, they started selling shares although the company was never incorporated and had no assets. Bill and Hank held two-thirds of 600 company shares, and Ruth Hock also received some for pay as secretary. Two hundred shares were sold for $5,000 at $25 each with many of the shares being sold were done so with a promise to eventually issue a stock certificate.
The sales of shares in Works Publishing, Inc. meant that AA held no ownership of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book and instead was owned by the shareholders. By 1940, Wilson and the trustees of the newly established Alcoholic Foundation decided that the Big Book should belong to AA. Bill Wilson transferred his shares to the Alcoholic Foundation on April 22, 1940, and shortly after with reluctance, Hank Parkhurst who had started drinking again transferred his shares. In June of 1940, official Works Publishing stock certificates were issued to the remaining shareholders.
With a loan from the Rockefellers, Alcoholics Anonymous was able to buy back all of the original shares at par value of $25 each. This particular stock certificate that was owned by Robert A. Furlong was not transferred to AA until April 17, 1942.
These were times in AA’s history that were riddled with struggles and lack of money. It was a miracle that AA was able to procure the loan from the Rockefellers and also convince all of the shareholders to transfer their ownership of the Big Book back to AA. It wasn’t a smooth process but ownership was finally returned to its rightful owner.
-This original Works Publishing Stock Certificate that was owned by Robert A. Furlong is currently available to be purchased at RecoveryCollectibles.com