History

Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provided 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 167 countries.

The world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, was formed on February 23, 1905┬áby Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to capture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The Rotary name derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices.

Rotary’s popularity spread, and within a decade, clubs were chartered from San Francisco to New York to Winnipeg, Canada. By 1921, Rotary clubs had been formed on six continents. The organization adopted the Rotary International name a year later.

From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world’s most widely printed and quoted statements is The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (who later served as Rotary International’s President) when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy.