The First Rotary Club
The world’s first service club was founded on 23 February 1905 when lawyer Paul Harris and three friends met in a small office in downtown Chicago. These men wanted to rekindle in the turn-of-the-century city the spirit of friendliness they had known in their home towns. Word of the club soon spread and others were invited to join. They named their new club “Rotary” to describe the practice of meeting in rotation at the members’ various places of business.
Originally formed for fellowship, the first Rotary club quickly evolved to use the talents and resources of its members to serve the community. By the end of 1905, the Rotary Club of Chicago had 30 members. Three years later a second club was established in San Francisco, California, USA. The next year three more clubs were established on the west coast of the United States and a fourth in New York City. Within a few years other groups formed service clubs based on the Rotary model.
Pictured above are the first four Rotarians: (left to right) Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, Hiram Shorey, and Paul Harris.