The History of Rotary

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The first years of the Rotary Club

The first Rotary Club was formed when attorney Paul P. Harris called together a meeting of three business acquaintances in downtown Chicago, at Harris' friend Gustave E. Loehr's office in the Unity Building on Dearborn Street on February 23, 1905.[5] In addition to Harris and Loehr (a mining engineer and freemason[6]), Silvester Schiele (a coal merchant), and Hiram E. Shorey (a tailor) were the other two who attended this first meeting. The 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.

The next four Rotary Clubs were organized in cities in the western United States, beginning with San Francisco, then OaklandLos Angeles, and Seattle. The National Association of Rotary Clubs in America was formed in 1910. 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 a club in Winnipeg, Manitoba,Canada,[7] marking the first establishment of an American-style service club outside the United States.[8] To reflect the addition of a club outside of the United States, the name was changed to the International Association of Rotary Clubs in 1912.[7]

In 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.[9]

During World War I, Rotary in Britain increased from 9 to 22 clubs,[10] and other early clubs in other nations included those in Cuba in 1916, Philippines in 1919 and India in 1920.

In 1922, the name was changed to Rotary International.[11] By 1925, Rotary had grown to 200 clubs with more than 20,000 members.[12]


World War II Europe

Rotary Clubs in Spain ceased to operate shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.[13]

Clubs were disbanded across Europe as follows:[13]

·         Austria (1938)

·         Italy (1939)

·         Czechoslovakia (1940)

·         Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Yugoslavia and Luxembourg (1941)

·         Hungary (1941/1942)

·         In The Netherlands, Rotary was forbidden after the occupation by the German troops in 1940 and could only be reinstalled after the liberation in 1945

From 1945 onwards

Rotary clubs in Eastern Europe and other communist-regime nations were disbanded by 1945-46, but new Rotary clubs were organized in many other countries, and by the time of the national independence movements in Africa and Asia, the new nations already had Rotary clubs. After the relaxation of government control of community groups in Russia and former Soviet satellite nations, Rotarians were welcomed as club organizers, and clubs were formed in those countries, beginning with the Moscow club in 1990.

In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program to immunize all of the world's children against polio. As of 2011, Rotary has contributed more than 900 million US dollars to the cause, resulting in the immunization of nearly two billion children worldwide.[14][15]

As of 2006, Rotary has more than 1.2 million members in over 32,000 clubs among 200 countries and geographical areas, making it the most widespread by branches and second largest service club by membership, behind Lions Club International. The number of Rotarians has slightly declined in recent years: Between 2002 and 2006, they went from 1,245,000 to 1,223,000 members. North America accounts for 450,000 members, Asia for 300,000, Europe for 250,000, Latin America for 100,000, Oceania for 100,000 and Africa for 30,000.[16]

Rotary International Presidents 2001–present

·         Richard D. King (2001–2002)

·         Bhichai Rattakul (2002–2003)

·         Jonathan B. Majiyagbe (2003–2004)

·         Glenn E. Estess, Sr. (2004–2005)

·         Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar (2005–2006)

·         William Boyd (2006–2007)

·         Wilfrid J. Wilkinson (2007–2008)

·         Dong Kurn Lee (2008–2009)

·         John Kenny (2009–2010)

·         Ray Klinginsmith (2010–2011)

·         Kalyan Banerjee (2011–2012)

·         Sakuji Tanaka (2012–2013)[17]

·         Ron D. Burton (2013–2014)

·         Gary C.K. Huang (2014-2015)

.          K.R. "Ravi" Ravindran (2015 - 2016)
.          John F. Germ (2016-2017)
.          Ian Risely (2017-2018)
.          Barry Rassin (2018-2019)
              Mark Daniel Maloney (2019-2020)