Selected Papers of William L. White

Senior Research Consultant

Chestnut Health Systems

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Ernie Kurtz (1935-2015)


Excerpt from: Ernest Kurtz Profile, Historian as Storyteller and Healer
View File pdf

"History and imperfection are my specialties—not necessarily in that order."
    --Ernest Kurtz, 1996

The lives of Fr. Edward Dowling, Sr. Mary Ignatia Gavin, Fr. John C. Ford, Fr. Ralph Pfau, Dr. Austin Ripley, Fr. Joseph Martin, Sr. Therese Golden, and the history of Guest House constitute critical chapters in the larger story of the rise of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the role of spirituality in long-term recovery from alcoholism. It is thus quite fitting that Recovery Through Catholic Eyes is dedicated to Ernest Kurtz, the person most singularly responsible for uncovering and telling this larger story.

Ernest Kurtz published his seminal work, Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, in 1979 and has continued his writing and teaching on the topics of AA, spirituality, shame, and storytelling. This final chapter of Recovery Through Catholic Eyes explores and honors his ideas, activities, and sustained influence. The chapter contains four sections: 1) a brief biography, 2) a sampling of the topical themes that permeate Kurtz’s work, 3) a profile of Kurtz the man, and 4) an appendix containing a chronology of the Kurtz publications. The chapter is designed to let Kurtz, and those profoundly influenced by him, speak directly to the reader in their own words.

When I began writing a book in the early 1990s on the history of addiction treatment and recovery in America, several people directed me to Ernie Kurtz as the authoritative source. I had no way of knowing that what I expected to be a brief consultation on the history of AA would evolve into a prolonged mentorship, multiple professional collaborations, and an enduring friendship. Through these years, Ernie Kurtz communicated a number of crucial lessons to me about researching and writing history. He repeatedly challenged:

  1. Tell the story chronologically (do not confuse your reader).
  2. Tell the story in context (let your reader know what else is going on around the event you are profiling).
  3. Present the historical evidence (sources)—all the evidence.
  4. Separate statements of fact from conjecture and opinion.
  5. Tell the story from multiple perspectives.
  6. Localize and personalize the story.
  7. Stay connected to your readers—keep them wanting to turn the page to find out what happens next (for an elaboration of these, see White, 2004).

I will try to be faithful to these guidelines in telling Ernie’s own story.

Three sources form the foundation of this chapter: the complete publications of Ernie Kurtz (See appendix), taped and transcribed interviews conducted with Ernie Kurtz in 2008 and 2009, and comments solicited from those who have worked professionally with Ernie Kurtz over the past three decades.

Continue reading the full 22 page Ernie Kurtz profile:  View File pdf

Personal Tribute

Personal Tribute: Ernie Kurtz (1935-2015) View File pdf

Roger C. Tribute to Ernie Kurtz View File pdf


Book Cover
Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, 1979.

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Shame and Guilt, 2007.

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The Collected Ernie Kurtz, 2008.

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Kurtz & Ketcham The Spirituality of Imperfection, 1992.

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Kurtz & Ketcham Experiencing Spirituality, 2014.

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Monograph Cover
White, Kurtz, & Sanders Recovery Management, 2006.

Monograph Link [ ]

Monograph Cover
White & Kurtz Linking Addiction Treatment and Communities of Recovery: A Primer for Addiction Counselors and Recovery Coaches, 2006.

Monograph Link [ ]

Articles / Chapters

Ernie Kurtz at Bill Wilson Desk
Ernie Kurtz at Bill Wilson Desk at Stepping Stones

View Download Date Name
View File pdf 1982 The Tragedy of Southern Religion
View File pdf 1982 Why AA Works: Intellectual Significance of AA
View File pdf 1986 AA as a Phenomenon of American Religious History
View File pdf 1988 Here's to Spuds
View File pdf 1988 Spiritual Rather than Religious: A Contribution of AA
View File pdf 1989 Bill W. Takes LSD
View File pdf 1990 The Spirituality of William James: A Lesson from Alcoholics Anonymous
View File pdf 1991 Shame in the Nineties
View File pdf 1992 Commentary on Lay Treatment
View File pdf 1992 Research on Alcoholics Anonymous: The Historical Context
View File pdf 1993 AA Grapevine History
View File pdf 1994 Miller and Kurtz Models of Alcoholism
View File pdf 1996 Foreword Moderate Drinking
View File pdf 1996 Spirituality and Recovery: The Historical Journey
View File pdf 1996 What Ever Happened to Twelve Step Programs?
View File pdf 1997 Doing History
View File pdf 1997 Varieties of the Alcoholics Anonymous Experience
View File pdf 1998 Spirituality and Psychotherapy The Historical Context
View File pdf 2002 AA and the Disease Concept
View File pdf 2003 Robinson Brower & Kurtz Spirituality of Persons Entering Alcoholism Treatment
View File pdf 2007 Telephone/Internet Recovery Support
View File pdf 2008 White & Kurtz Twelve Defining Moments in the History of Alcoholics Anonymous
View File pdf 2010 White & Kurtz A Message of Tolerance and Celebration: Multiple Pathways of Recovery in the Writings of Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson
View File pdf 2011 White & Kurtz The Varieties of Recovery Experience
View File pdf 2012 Strobbe and Kurtz Narratives of Recovery
View File pdf 2014 Flaherty, Kurtz, White, & Larson Secular, Spiritual, and Religious Pathways of Long-term Addiction Recovery
View File pdf 2014 Spirituality and Addiction Recovery
    2014 On AA-haters - Interview Link [ ]
View File pdf 2015 Kurtz and White Recovery Spirituality
    2015 Kurtz & White Alcoholics Anonymous (Coming Soon)


  View Download Date Name
  View File pdf 2001 The Combined Addiction Disease Chronologies of Whilliam White, Ernie Kurtz, and Caroline Acker
View File pdf 2014 Foreword, Don't Tell: Essays from AA Agnostica

Audio / Video Interviews

Bill White Interview with Ernie Kurtz

20092009 Ernie Kurtz on the history of A.A., spirituality, shame and storytelling. Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center (DVD of three interviews by B. White).
Video Link [ ]
2014A Reverence for History--Sedona
Video Link [ ]
2014Radio Interview—Experiencing Spirituality (Voice of American Radio Interview)

Download [ mp3 ]

Edited Transcripts

View Download Date Name
View File pdf 2009 Reflections on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous: An Interview with Ernie Kurtz
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Selected Papers of William L. White