Rotary International History
Rotary began through the efforts of four men in Chicago. Each represented a different occupation: a mining engineer, a manager in the coal industry, a merchant tailor, and a lawyer. It was the lawyer, Paul Harris, who first thought of the Rotary idea; they had their first meeting in Chicago on February 23, 1905. Men only were admitted to Rotary Clubs until 1985 when all clubs became gender neutral.
The early meetings were held in rotation at the offices of the early members, and as a result the name “Rotary” was adopted. (To celebrate this heritage, the RCOB holds at least one “Rotation Day” annually when each of us meets at member’s businesses instead of our usual meeting spot.) As the Clubs grew, they started meeting instead at central locations as they do now.
Rotary became international in 1912, when Canadians came to the National Convention. Rotary had also heard from British members. The name was changed to “The International Association of Rotary Clubs”, soon becoming “Rotary international”.
The Rotary Foundation transforms monetary gifts into service projects that change lives both close to home and around the world. Since it was founded more than 100 years ago, the Foundation has spent more than $4 billion on life-changing, sustainable projects. With your help, we can make lives better in our community and around the world.
The Rotary Foundation’s mission is to help Rotary members advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace by improving health, providing quality education, improving the environment, and alleviating poverty.
What impact can one donation have?
  • For as little as 60 cents, a child can be protected from polio.
  • $50 can provide clean water to help fight waterborne illness.
  • $500 can launch an antibullying campaign and create a safe environment for children.
Check out our Areas of Service and Focus – All Over the World! page for more on Rotary’s Global Initiatives.
Read more about the Rotary Foundation’s current initiatives and success stories here. 
Of course, as Rotarians, we support the worldwide Rotary International Foundation. Our individual members support this effort each year as a portion of their Rotary dues. Once a member’s gift reaches $1,000, they are named individual Paul Harris Fellows (named after one of Rotary’s founders).
Our Club has given over $400,000 to this wonderful initiative that benefits our entire world.