Club History

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The first Rotary meeting was held on February 23, 1905 when Paul Harris called together three friends to his tiny office in Chicago, Illinois. At the time, Harris was having trouble meeting other professionals and businessmen. He had called together the first four Rotarians who were (by descent and vocation) an Irish lawyer, a Jewish tailor, a Swedish mining engineer and a German coal dealer. He proposed that the diverse group would meet regularly to share ideas and work together toward common goals. When the members "rotated" their first meetings between their various places of business, Rotary got its name. From this humble start, Rotary has grown into the world's largest and oldest service club. The first regular weekly luncheon meeting was in Oakland, California in 1909. The first convention was held in Chicago the next year. Rotary ventured into Canada in 1910, and in 1911 to Ireland. By 1922 over 1,000 Rotary clubs had been chartered, representing every continent, and the worldwide organization was now named Rotary International. The inclusion of women in Rotary in the 1980's added the other half of humanity to Rotary's fellowship of all the world's races and religions. Today, over 1.2 million Rotarians now attend weekly meetings in over 28,000 clubs. These clubs are divided into about 500 geographic Rotary districts, each of which is headed by a District Governor who, during their year of service, represent the Rotary International President. Through this worldwide organization, Rotary clubs may do projects to benefit their own community, or in a small town halfway across the world through the Rotary Foundation, and through this international fellowship, Rotary has accomplished goals that governments can't even aspire to. In nearly every community in the free world, you can find a friend in Rotary.