Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Rotary International
Rotary International

Rotary International

Founded in Chicago in 1905 by lawyer Paul Harris, Rotary International is an association of clubs whose members meet regularly for sociability, business contacts, and charitable activities. Harris began the club for businessmen who felt isolated in the big city. Early meetings “rotated” between members' offices. Soon Rotary began emphasizing service, and expanded to cities and towns across the country and throughout the world. Despite its big-city origins, Rotary became most associated in America with towns and suburbs, where clubs worked to strengthen communal solidarity. Recently Rotary has stressed its global mission, providing scholarships for study abroad and funding a worldwide fight against polio. Rotary has spawned many imitators, among them Lions Clubs International, organized in Chicago in 1917 and currently headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook. Rotary, with a 1997 membership of 1,213,748 in 28,736 clubs, has been headquartered since the 1950s in Evanston.

Arnold, Oren. The Golden Strand: An Informal History of the Rotary Club of Chicago. 1966.
Charles, Jeffrey. Service Clubs in American Society: Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions. 1993.
Walsh, James P. The First Rotarian: The Life and Times of Paul Percy Harris, Founder of Rotary. 1979.