History of Rotary Service

History of Rotary Service


Rotary began in 1905 in Chicago when Paul Harris and a few associates committed to the ideal of fellowship and cooperation in business.

The international headquarters are in Evanston, Illinois, U.S.A., and there are branch offices in nine countries on five continents. Rotary grows at the extraordinary rate of a new club every 15 hours.

Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, initiated the procedure of selecting leaders from the various business and professional men of an area as members. This led to the “classification” system which is in use today. Business classifications ensure that a wide spectrum of viewpoints are represented in each club as well as Rotary International.

In 1911, at the second convention of the 16 clubs then in existence (held in Portland, Oregon), Chicago Rotarian Arthur Sheldon stated, “The science of business is the science of service. He profits most who serves best.” Thus the early concept of “cooperation in business” gave way to the larger concept of “service to others.”

There were two further stages of service that evolved over time. One was an additional motto, “Service Above Self“. The other was the acceptance of one Object of Rotary — one word, Service, with four main avenues of activity (service to the Club, the Community, the Vocation and International).

For more information about the history and service of Rotary International, go to the RI website at www.rotary.org.