Modest Beginnings

Rotary was born in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. on 23 February 1905. Its founder was Paul Harris, an attorney. On that day Paul met with three friends – Silvester Schiele, a coal dealer; Gustavus E. Loeher, a mining engineer; and Hiram E. Shorey a merchant tailor. Paul’s idea was to promote fellowship among business acquaintances.

Because the men met in rotation at each other’s places of business, their club adopted the name Rotary. To make the club a representative cross-section of the business and professional community, only one representative of each business or profession was admitted. This was the beginning of the classification of principle of membership.

While the original basis of Rotary was fellowship, service to others soon became its hallmark. Today each club determines its own service activities which it channels through four ‘Avenues of Service’. These are Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service and International Service. These avenues are based on the four-part Object of Rotary.