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District 11 Archives

How We Started

In 1985, ten years after the General Service Office in New York had the official ribbon cutting to open their Archives; District 11 began an Archive by electing Jerry R. of the Bellingham Group as the first Archivist. The movement to collect our history began with Bill W., co-founder of the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship.  Bill recognized early on the importance of collecting records of AA history and Nell Wing, his secretary and assistant, was part of that effort and became the first Archivist in the General Service Office (GSO) in New York.  To quote from the GSO WebPages for Archives, “in the early 1950s, Bill was becoming increasingly concerned that “the history of Alcoholics Anonymous is still veiled in the deep fog.” Knowing the office correspondence was loosely maintained in the drawers at the General Headquarters, he set out to arrange our historical records.

It is the same in District 11, we have a period with some fog surrounding our unrecorded early history that we may never fully know, but if we are diligent today, we can maintain an accurate record for those who follow in our footsteps.  We do this as the Archives Workbook from G.S.O.notes of Bill W.’s urging:

“So that myth doesn’t prevail over fact.”

Who We Are

District 11 Archives serves as a safe repository for the history of all the A.A. groups in Whatcom County or District 11. The General Service Representatives (GSR’s) of District 11 elect the Archivist and Alternate Archivist, and an Archives Committee assists in carrying out archival work. Anyone in the District is welcome as a volunteer. The District financially supports the Archives by funding a storage facility, supplies, and gasoline expenses for attendance at Western Washington Area 72 Archives Quarterlies.

What We Do

The mission of District 11 Archives is to collect, organize, and preserve records pertinent to the history of District 11, Whatcom County and of Alcoholics Anonymous. We gather materials and memorabilia from individuals, groups, and District meetings.  We take displays to A.A. functions and are available to speak to groups and to bring a traveling display to their meetings and events.  Reports by Archives are in the District Newsletter.

We realize history is not only of past events, but is ongoing and is of the present, so our collection work is on-going and the importance of this work is to keep our historical record accurate and complete.  The Archives Workbook we use from G.S.O. uses this quote from the poet Carl Sandburg to illustrate our purpose:

"Whenever a society or civilization perishes there is always one condition present; they forgot where they came from.”

What We Collect

Area newsletters and publications
Big Books of District 11 Old Timers or Groups
Committee reports
District 11 Newsletters
Financial records
Group histories
Grapevine and Literature publications
GSO publications
Memorabilia (pins, hats, coffee mugs, t-shirts, any item related to AA)
Minutes of GSR and Group Meetings
Newspaper and magazine articles
Oral histories of long timers in District 11**
Publications from conferences and internationals
Workshop handouts

*See our Wish List for items we would like donated.

How to Donate

We know that many people in AA have a private stash of AA stuff dear to their hearts, and if it is your desire, we hope you’ll consider donating your treasures to us one day. If you have any of the items we have listed, or other AA memorabilia you wish to donate to District 11 Archives, we would appreciate your donations now or at a later date. 

Please copy and use the bookmarks with the message “Don’t Throw Me Away, I Belong to AA” so you can mark AA items you would eventually like donated to us.  Marking your memorabilia or AA collectibles will assist family or friends to recognize the value those items have and help assure your memorabilia is preserved and not discarded.  Donors sign a Deed of Gift to the District. We protect the anonymity of donors.

Long Timer Oral Histories

We actively encourage longtime members of District 11 to share their memories of how it was in our District when they joined A.A. by arranging an oral history taping session with us.  Following taping, we will transcribe your memories and allow you to read and make any necessary corrections to your transcription. We will supply the list of Oral History Questions we ask prior to taping if requested.

Group Histories

We encourage all groups in the District, registered and unregistered, new and old, to write their histories and keep them updated. We provided copies of Group histories  to the GSR’s in February 2008 currently on  record in District 11 Archives files, and as published in the Western Washington Area publication of Our Stories Disclose…A History of the Western Washington Area of Alcoholics Anonymous 1939-2002, Second Edition. 

We also provided each GSR with a copy of Group History Questions to answer in their histories.

Volunteers Are Needed

We need volunteers for filing, photographing halls and artifacts, doing oral histories or transcribing them, digitizing cassette tapes, photocopying and scanning.

How to Contact Us

If you have items to donate or if you would like to volunteer, you can get contact information for the Archivist from any GSR. The Archivist is also present at the District Meetings at 6:30 pm on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Dry Dock meeting hall,100 W. Pine Street in Bellingham at the foot of Cornwall Avenue by the bay.

You can write to us:

District 11 Alcoholics Anonymous
Po Box 2268
Bellingham, WA 98227-2268

or E mail the Archivist at:


 Copyright 2002, District 11 in Area  72