The first Rotary club in the world was organized in Chicago, Illinois on February 23, 1905 by Paul P. Harris, a young lawyer who gathered together in a spirit of friendship and understanding a group of men, "each whom were engaged in a different form of service to the public". That basis of membership - one representative from each business and profession in the community - still exists in Rotary. The membership met in a rotation at various places of business of the members and this suggested the name "Rotary".
Since 1905 the ideals of Paul Harris and his friends have become ideals which have been accepted by men and women of practically all nationalities. Today there are Rotary clubs in 163 countries. There are now some 30,149 clubs which have a membership in excess of 1,188,492. The general objective of Rotary clubs in every country are the same. The development of fellowship and understanding among the business and professional men and women in the community - the promotion of community betterment endeavors and of high standards in the business and professional practices - the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace.
Rotary Clubs everywhere have one basic ideal - the "ideal of service". Rotary is defined as, "An organization of business and professional men and women untied worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards and help build goodwill and peace in the world".
To learn more about Rotary International, visit the RI Website: www.rotary.org.