History of Rotary

On February 23, 1905, Paul P. Harris, Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, and Hiram E. Shorey gathered in Loehr’s office in Chicago, Illinois for what would become known as the first Rotary club meeting. Harris’s desire for camaraderie among business associates brought together these four men and eventually led to an international organization of service and fellowship. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. The organization continued to grow over the decades following the original guiding principle, Service above self. Rotary was initially exclusive to men, but beginning in 1950, and through the subsequent decades, Rotary clubs around the world began to petition Rotary International to include women in their ranks. In 1989, Rotary International’s Council on Legislation voted to admit women into Rotary Clubs worldwide. Today, a global network of 1.2 million men and women in over 35,000 clubs works to fulfill the Rotary Mission envisioned so many years ago – service to others through fellowship. Rotarians work to solve some of our world’s most challenging problems, from literacy and peace to water and health.