Origins of Rotary

Origins of Rotary

Over ninety-nine years ago, there lived in the city of Chicago, a young lawyer who had only a few friends and acquaintances and who felt the pangs of loneliness. His name was Paul Harris. Desiring to extend his circle of acquaintances, he conceived the plan of calling together a few men engaged in different lines of business and explained to them an idea which was forming in his mind.
His idea was that man is friendly by nature and that the necessity of earning a livelihood under modern economic conditions should not compel a person to sacrifice their natural instinct to have friends and be friendly. That it should be possible for the person in the city to have business and professional friends as does the person in the small town. Friendship should be, and in reality is, the fundamental basis of a person's business relations with their fellowmen.
Paul Harris invited three men of acquaintance to meet at his office in the UnityBuilding, Chicago, on the evening of February 23, 1905. Those invited were Silvester A. Schiele, a coal dealer, H. E. Shorey, a merchant tailor, and Gus H. Loehr, a mining operator. The meeting was informal, and Paul Harris explained his idea of the formation of a club composed of people each from a different line of business or profession. It was agreed to meet again a week later in the office of Paul Harris.
At the second meeting several other gentlemen were present by invitation and the formation of a club was completed.
The name of "Rotary" was suggested by Paul Harris for the reason that it was decided to hold the meetings in rotation at the offices of the different members.
In the fall of 1905, the first dinner meeting of the club was held in the old Sherman House. So came into existence Rotary, and Club No. 1 in Chicago.
The first Rotary Club outside the U.S.A. was in WinnipegCanada in 1910. In 1911 Rotary crossed the Atlantic to Ireland and England. In 1912 the International Association of Rotary Clubs was formed and in 1922 this name was shortened to Rotary International.
Today there are 1,206,670 million Rotarians in 32,317 clubs in more than 168 countries making significant contributions to the quality of life at home and around the globe
Space here will not permit a full account of the wonderful growth and spread of Rotary.

Rotary Motto

Service Above Self

The Rotary Club

Meets once each week for breakfast, luncheon or dinner.
Membership is formed on the unique plan of up to five active members from each line of business and profession in the community.

Objects of Rotary

  1. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service.
  2. High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying by each Rotarian of their occupation as an opportunity to serve society.
  3. The application of the ideal of service by every Rotarian to their personal, business, and community life.
  4. The advancement of international understanding, good will, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional people united in the ideal of service.

Benefits of Rotary

  • Making the acquaintance of people you ought to know.
  • Genuine, wholesome good fellowship.
  • Developing true and helpful friends.
  • Enlightenment as to other people's work, problems and successes.
  • Education in methods that increase efficiency.
  • Stimulation of your desire to be of service to your fellow men, women and society in general.

Obligations of Rotarians

  1. To attend meetings regularly.
  2. To pay dues promptly.
  3. To do my part when called upon.
  4. To be a big-hearted, broad-minded person - a person of energy and action - a Rotarian.

Four Way Test - The Heart of Rotary

One of the most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics in the world is the Rotary 4-Way Test. It was created by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy. Taylor looked for a way to save the struggling company mired in depression-caused financial difficulties. He drew up a 24-word code of ethics for all employees to follow in their business and professional lives. The 4-Way Test became the guide for sales, production, advertising and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company is credited to this simple philosophy.
The 4-Way Test was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. Herb Taylor became president of Rotary International in 1954-55.
Of the things we think, say or do:
  1. Is it the Truth?
  2. Is it fair to all Concerned?
  3. Will it build good will and better Friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Declaration of Rotarians in Businesses and Professions

The Declaration of Rotarians in Businesses and Professions was adopted by the Rotary International Council on Legislation in 1989 to provide more specific guidelines for the high ethical standards called for in the Object of Rotary:

As a Rotarian engaged in a business or profession, I am expected to:
  • Consider my vocation to be another opportunity to serve;
  • Be faithful to the letter and to the spirit of the ethical codes of my vocation, to the laws of my country, and to the moral standards of my community;
  • Do all in my power to dignify my vocation and to promote the highest ethical standards in my chosen vocation;
  • Be fair to my employer, employees, associates, competitors, customers, the public and all those with whom I have a business or professional relationship;
  • Recognize the honor and respect due to all occupations which are useful to society;
  • Offer my vocational talents: to provide opportunities for young people, to work for the relief of the special needs of others, and to improve the quality of life in my community;
  • Adhere to honesty in my advertising and in all representations to the public concerning my business or profession;
  • Neither seek from nor grant to a fellow Rotarian a privilege or advantage not normally accorded others in a business or professional relationship.