History of Rotary International
There are over 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. As signified by the motto Service Above Self, Rotary’s main objective is service — in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world.
The main objective of Rotary is service - in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. Rotarians develop community service projects that address many of today's most critical issues, such as children at risk, poverty and hunger, the environment, illiteracy, and violence. They also support programs for youth, educational opportunities and international exchanges for students, teachers, and other professionals, and vocational and career development.
The first Rotary Club was formed in Chicago by attorney Paul P. Harris on February 23, 1905, Harris held the first meeting with three friends, Silvester Schiele, coal merchant, Gustave E. Loehr, mines engineer and Hiram E. Shorey, tailor. The members chose the name Rotary because they rotated club meetings to each member's office each week.
The National Association of Rotary Clubs was formed in 1910. The same year, Rotary chartered a branch in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, marking the first establishment of an American-style service club outside the United States. This was followed in 1911 by the founding of the first club outside North America in Dublin, Ireland.
During World War I, Rotary in Britain increased from 9 to 22 clubs, and other early international branches were Cuba in 1916 and India in 1920.
In 1922, because branches had been formed in six continents, the name was changed to Rotary International. By 1925, Rotary had grown to 200 clubs with more than 20,000 members.
In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program to immunize all of the world's children against polio. In 2005 Rotary claimed to have contributed half a billion dollars to the cause, resulting in the immunization of nearly two billion children worldwide.