The first Rotary Club of the world was organized in Chicago, Illinois, USA, on 23rd February 1905, by Paul Persey Harris, a young lawyer, who gathered together in a spirit of friendship and understanding group of men, each of whom was engaged in a different form of service to the public. The basic for membership – one person from each business and profession in the community – still exists in Rotary. At first, the members of the new club met in rotation at their various places of business, and this suggested the name “Rotary”.
Since 1905, the ideas of Paul Harris and his friends have become ideals which have been accepted by people of practically all nationalities, and of many political and religious beliefs. Today there are Rotary clubs in Austria and American Somoa, in Brazil and Brunei, in India and Italy, Scotland and South Africa – In 211 countries and 34 geographical regions. The universal acceptance of Rotary principles has been so great that there are now more than 33,995 Rotary Clubs, which have a membership of about 1,213,605.
The general objectives of Rotary clubs in every country are the same – the development of fellowship and understanding among the business and professional leaders in the community, the promotion of the community – betterment endeavors and of high standards in business and professional practices, and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace. Rotary clubs everywhere have the basic ideal – the “Ideal of Services”, which is thoughtfulness of and helpfulness to others.