Rotary International’s 116th Birthday on February
first gathering, on Thursday evening, 23 February 1905 in Chicago, Illinois,
U.S.A. was initiated by attorney Paul P. Harris. Young Harris, fresh from a
wild five years as a reporter, actor, cowboy, seaman, granite salesman, fruit
picker and hotel clerk and five years building a successful law practice, had
an idea. It was regarding observations of success and respect which could come
from organizing professional acquaintances.
had given this much thought by the time he and Silvester Schiele (a coal
merchant) walked over to Gus Loehr's (a mining engineer) office, in Room 711 in
the Unity Building on Dearborn Street that cold winter night in 1905, almost
nine years from his arrival in Chicago. In addition, a fourth man, Hiram E,
Shorey (a tailor) attended this first meeting. Several weeks later, Schiele was
elected the first president of Rotary when the meeting was held in his office.
members chose the name Rotary because initially they rotated subsequent weekly
club meetings to each other's offices, although within a year, the Chicago club
became so large it became necessary to adopt the now-common practice of a
regular meeting place.
next four Rotary Clubs were organized in cities in the western United States,
beginning with San Francisco, then Oakland, Seattle, and Los Angeles. The
National Association of Rotary Clubs in America was formed in 1910.
November 3, 1910, a Rotary club began meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada,
the beginning of the organization's internationality. On 22 February 1911, the
first meeting of the Rotary Club Dublin was held in Dublin, Ireland. This was
the first club established outside of North America. In April 1912, Rotary
chartered the Winnipeg club marking the first establishment of an
American-style service club outside the United States. To reflect the addition
of a club outside of the United States, the name was changed to the
International Association of Rotary Clubs.
August 1912, the Rotary Club of London received its charter from the
Association, marking the first acknowledged Rotary club outside North America.
It later became known that the Dublin club in Ireland was organized before the
London club, but the Dublin club did not receive its charter until after the
London club was chartered. During World War I, Rotary in Britain increased from
9 to 22 clubs, and other early clubs in other nations included those in Cuba in
1916, Philippines in 1919 and India in 1920.
1922, the name was changed to Rotary International.
Rotary Club is the basic unit of Rotary activity, and each club determines its
own membership. Clubs originally were limited to a single club per city,
municipality, or town, but Rotary International has encouraged the formation of
one or more additional clubs in the largest cities when practical.
clubs meet weekly, usually at a mealtime on a weekday in a regular location,
when Rotarians can discuss club business and hear from guest speakers. Each
club also conducts various service projects within its local community and
participates in special projects involving other clubs in the local district,
and occasionally a special project in a "sister club" in another