On 23 February 1905, Paul Percy Harris (Attorney) and 3 of his friends from different vocations, gathered at an office in Room 711 of the Unity Building in downtown Chicago. This was the first Rotary club meeting. They decided to call the new club “Rotary” after the practice of rotating meeting locations.
Within five years, other rotary clubs had formed across the country, from San Francisco to New York and in August 1910, Rotarians held their first convention in Chicago. 16 clubs that existed at that time united to form the National Association of Rotary Clubs. In 1912, the name changed to International Association of Rotary Clubs to reflect the addition of other countries’ Rotary Clubs. The name Rotary International was adopted in 1922. By July 1925, Rotary had grown to more than 2,000 clubs and an estimated 108,000 members on six continents.
Rotary’s reputation attracted presidents, prime ministers, and a host of other luminaries to its ranks. As Rotary grew, members pooled their resources and used their talents to serve their communities. The organization’s dedication to this ideal is best expressed in its motto: Service Above Self.