may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the
results it achieves.”
—Paul P. Harris
Our 1.2 million-member organization
started with the vision of one man—Paul P. Harris. The
Chicago attorney formed one of the world’s first service
organizations, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23
February 1905 as a place where professionals with
diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form
meaningful, lifelong friendships. Rotary’s name came
from the group’s early practice of rotating meetings
among the offices of each member.
Object of Rotary
The Object of Rotary is to encourage
and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy
enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
FIRST. The development of
acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
SECOND. High ethical standards in
business and professions, the recognition of the
worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying
of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve
THIRD. The application of the ideal
of service in each Rotarian's personal, business, and
FOURTH. The advancement of
international understanding, goodwill, and peace through
a world fellowship of business and professional persons
united in the ideal of service.
Rotary is a worldwide organization of
business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian
service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations,
and helps build goodwill and peace in the world.
Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than
31,000 Rotary clubs located in 166 countries.
Rotary's Ongoing Commitment
Rotarians have not only been present for major
events in history—we’ve been a part of them. From
the beginning, three key traits have remained strong
We’re truly international. Only 16 years after being
founded, Rotary had clubs on six continents. Today
we’re working together from around the globe both
digitally and in-person to solve some of our world’s
most challenging problems.
We persevere in tough times. During WWII, Rotary
clubs in Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Japan
were forced to disband. Despite the risks, many
continued to meet informally and following the war’s
end, Rotary members joined together to rebuild their
clubs and their countries.
Our commitment to service is ongoing. We began our
fight against polio in 1979 with a project to
immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. By
2012, only three countries remain polio-endemic—down
from 125 in 1988.
Chicago attorney Paul P. Harris
convenes the first Rotary meeting on 23 February in Room
711 of the Unity Building in Chicago. Harris envisions a
professional club that brings together men from a
variety of vocations. Gustavus Loehr, Hiram Shorey, and
Silvester Schiele attend. The meeting sets the
groundwork for the world's first service club: the
Rotary Club of Chicago.
The second Rotary
club, the Rotary Club of San Francisco,
receives its charter on 12 November.
Founding members Homer Wood, Chester H.
Woolsey, and Roy R. Rogers attend the
charter banquet. Club members elect Wood
president, and he becomes known as the
father of Rotary on the Pacific Coast.
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