Convention” – Chicago August 15-17 1910 with 60 in attendance

The First “Convention” – Chicago August 15-17 1910 with 60 in attendance

More properly a meeting, or gathering that did result in an association

The Organization of the National Association of Rotary Clubs of America

  • The First National Convention of The Rotary Clubs of America

    • “Delegates from North, South, East and West, delegates from all parts of the United States: We have been called here to organize a national association of Rotary Clubs, and we have a great deal of business to transact.” With that statement “Rotary” as a larger organization began!

  • Harris’ first comments to the convention

  • Convention Banquet

  • Harris as banquet toastmaster

  • Harris’ first address as the new president

  • Visit Paul Harris’ president’s home page

  • 1940 Scrapbook photos of the 1910 convention

  • The Road I Have Traveled

  • Editor, RGHF senior historian Dr. Wolfgang Ziegler, Bavaria

  • Establishment of the Rotary Year

1910 Delegates to first convention of Rotary in Chicago. Click to enlarge. Description below.
  1910 Convention Delegates. Click to enlarge</style=”font-size:>
Click to enlarge the photo above.



In attendance, with links to their histories: L-R San Francisco #2, Detroit #16, Milwaukee which would become #57 in 1913, Boston #7, Kansas City #13, Los Angeles #5, Chicago #1, Saint Louis #11, Seattle #4, New York City #6, New Orleans #12, Minneapolis #9, Lincoln #14, Portland #15, and Tacoma #8.  St. Paul #10 cannot be found in the photograph and may not have attended.  (Oakland #3, known then as Tri-City was having very poor attendance. “It was at its lowest in August of 1910 when the first Rotary convention was held in Chicago during which a National Association of Rotary Clubs was organized. Tri-City failed to send representation – either by delegate or by proxy. (page 41 Rotarily Yours, RC of Oakland 1969)  (Photo RI Archives Dept)


First President Paul P. Harris, Founder of Rotary, Rotary, Rotary Club of Chicago (official presidents photo) Elected Secretary, Chesley R. Perry, Rotary Club of Chicago Congress Hotel at 510 South Michigan Avenue. Chicago Athletic Club, where ROTARY/One meets.
Wolfgang Ziegler <style=”font-size: 9pt”=””> </style=”font-size:>
1910 announcement Official Convention Car found in 1940 scrapbook.Also in the Harris Study Leaders Chapin and Perry
The first Convention of the National Association was held at the Congress Hotel at 510 South Michigan Avenue. This majestic hotel still stands, just a few blocks down from the Chicago Athletic Club, where ROTARY/One one time met. Today the club meets at the Union League Club.

The first Convention looked at ‘Joint Resolutions to the Establishment of a National Organization of Rotary Clubs’. Talks on the Rotary Constitution and By-laws would dominate the Convention. Interestingly enough, the Convention Reports continually refer to the founding of Rotary occurring in 1904 – February 25th 1904 to be precise! (**NOTE – References to 1904 are officially considered to have been erroneous according to Rotary International.)

14 Clubs were present with larger clubs holding more votes – Chicago Rotary Club was given 6 votes and Seattle 5 votes.

The Presiding Officer or Chairman of the Convention was the soon-to-be Secretary Chesley Perry.

One Rotarian, E. L. Skeel representing Seattle’s 242 members, told the convention what Rotary stood for R – reciprocity; O – optimism; T – tenacity; A – ambition; R- reliability; Y -you. C W Rutlidge of the St Louis Rotary Club read out an essay entitled “Why We Are v. What We are”.

Daniel L Cady compared President Harris to another President – Lincoln. He said, “I venture to predict�that 101 years hence the features of our friend who sits at the head of the table will be as well known to the world as the features of the Imperial Peasant of these plains, just mentioned.”

Cady also talked of the newly emerging mottos of Rotary – “Business and Brotherhood will mix”; “Contemper your business with conscience”; and “Mix a little heart with your many brains”. Arthur Sheldon would however, capture the mood of Rotarians by giving the movement his famous motto quoted in 1910 as “He profits most who serves his fellows best”.

At the banquet in the Gold Room in The Congress Hotel on August 17th, President A M Ramsay of Chicago Rotary presided. The toastmaster was Paul Harris who told delegates and guests that “this matter of getting the Rotary Clubs together in one grand convention has been a project”.

The Convention ended with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne“- a tradition that has never ended. Calum Thomson

Conventions for presidents is where presidents from all the Rotary clubs of a particular district get together, meet, greet and discuss their various projects and vision. Over a cup of Chocolate Slim, these health and social conscious people strive to make the world a better place to live in for one and for all.