Guidelines for Taping Oral Histories

Personal Information

  • What is your name?
  • Do you have any nicknames?
  • When did you come to Al-Anon?
  • Where do you live?
  • Did you ever leave Al-Anon or have you stayed continuously?

First Meeting

  • What was the name of the first meeting you attended?
  • Where was it located?
  • Was it in a church, a community center or some other building?
  • When did you attend the meeting?
  • How did you learn about Al-Anon? What was your first contact with Al-Anon) through the media, friend, website, ad in public building/public transportation/ television ad, radio, family doctor, therapist?
  • How did you make your first contact? By phone? Visit?
  • Where and when was the first contact made?
  • How did you get to your first Al-Anon meeting?
  • What do you remember about your first meeting?


  • How many groups or meetings were in existence?
  • How often were meetings held and what kinds of meeting formats were used (open meetings, closed meetings, speaker-led response type, kitchen table meetings, loner?)
  • How did each meeting open?
  • What readings/preamble were heard before the topic or speaker?
  • What announcements were made?
  • How was coffee served? Did people serve themselves?
  • When the basket was passed for the 7th Tradition, how much did members contribute?
  • Did the meetings have literature tables and was the literature freely available?
  • How did the meetings close?
  • Where did members go after the closing? For example—restaurants or home?
  • When did Al-Anon begin in your city or region?
  • Where were meetings held? Homes? Churches? Clubs? How were meetings organized?
  • Were there early members who especially contributed to the growth and success of the group?
  • What was the composition of the meetings in terms of long timers, women, men, young people, older people?
  • What was your impression of the first large meeting you attended? Where was it?


  • What kind of group service did you do in your first five years?
  • How did you get involved in service work? Did you volunteer? Did some one ask you? Did some one tell you? Did someone volunteer you?
  • Have you been involved in service work beyond the group? If so what service positions have you held?
  • In your own service work, did you feel your participation brought results? How?

Service – Group

  • Was there an active Al-Anon Information Services (AIS) in your area or community when you first joined Al-Anon? How about now? Do you know when it was started? What problems have arisen over the years?
  • Has the attitude of your local professional people, particularly toward alcoholism, been changed by contact with the local member?
  • Did service bodies seek the cooperation of local community and professional agencies—ministers, doctors, law enforcement agencies?
  • How was Al-Anon Public Relations/Public Outreach committee-type work handled? Was it well received?
  • How did committee work involving Public Information, Correction Facilities, Treatment Facilities, Telephone answering services, Form, Archives, Special Needs, other languages etc. develop in your area?
  • Describe the early district meetings, area meetings (Assembly) AIS meetings
  • Was Al-Anon in your city involved with area assemblies, service days, workshops, regional forums, or other service functions? Describe your participation in these events.

Special Events

  • Were conferences or conventions held when you first came to Al-Anon?
  • When were they started? How often were they held? Were they well attended?
  • When did you first attend a convention/conference?
  • What conventions and other Al-Anon functions stand out in your memory for the first five years? The second five years? After five years?
  • Do you participate in get-togethers: conventions, conferences, one day round-ups, forums?, Workshops, etc?
  • What other kind of Al-Anon events such as picnics, holiday parties, dances and social events have been held, especially in the early days?
  • Who organized these and were they well attended?

Home Group

  • Do you have a home group?
  • When did you first join a group?
  • How long after your first meeting?
  • What is the name of your home group?
  • When was it founded? Describe the circumstances of its founding.
  • Has the name ever been changed?
  • Where is the group located? Has it changed locations?
  • Who were the founders and early group officers?
  • Did your group conduct business meetings? How did it disperse its funds?
  • Do you remember any people from your first home group?
  • Does/did you group have any distinctive customs (readings, presentations, etc)?
  • What was the relationship of your group with the community including the locations where it was held?
  • Does your group recognize years in Al-Anon? If so, has that recognition changed over the years? Have you been a member of any other groups?

Personal Highlights

  • What are some of the highlights of your first year?
  • What other Al-Anon related events or functions stand out in your memories? What are some other things you remember from your first 5 years?
  • What are some humorous highlights from that time?
  • Who are some others you remember from your second 5 years? What groups? Who are some of the people who have had the most influence in your recovery? How do/did you celebrate anniversaries, individual and group? Why?

Working the Program

  • Did you have a sponsor, and how did it help you as a newcomer? Was the sponsor “assigned” to you or did you choose him/her? How soon after your first meeting did you find a sponsor?
  • What was your relationship to your sponsors?
  • Did you purchase your first Twelve and Twelve, ODAT?
  • What kind of literature was available? Did you read it?
  • Do you have favourites (pamphlets, tapes, films, books?)
  • What kinds of meetings were available? Were there only topic discussions? Were there Step discussion meetings? Were there tradition discussion meetings? Open Speaker Meetings? What kinds of meetings did you attend?
  • Did you attend Open AA meetings?


  • What was Al-Anon like when you first joined?
  • How has Al-Anon changed (if it has) since you first found it?
  • Are there any particular similarities in Al-Anon then and now?
  • Were there any problems that arose during the early years—growing pains, etc?
  • Did solutions develop? What were they?
  • Is there AA in your community? Is there Alateen in your community?
  • When did AA start in your community? When did Alateen start in your community?
  • Were there good relations between Al-Anon and AA? Between Alateen and AA?
  • Are there treatment centers or other outside agencies in your city and surrounding area?
  • What is there relationship to Al-Anon? To Alateen? To AA?
  • How have these agencies affected Twelfth Step work? Is there a major difference between now and then?