Sylvester Schiele, Paul Percy Harris, Gustavus Loehr and Hiram Shorey, the founding fathers of Rotary.

The History of Rotary

The first Rotary Club was founded by lawyer Paul Percy Harris (1868-1947) in Chicago on February 23, 1905 along with three friends, Coal Merchant Sylvester Schiele, German-American Mining Engineer (and Freemason) Gustav Löhr, and Confectioner Hiram Shorey.

Paul Harris and his friends pursued the goal of creating a stable and diverse community of values in the booming city of Chicago similarly as he had experienced when he was a child in the countryside, where everyone supported others as they saw fit. The principle followed today of a “community of professionals” was from the beginning.

The name Rotary origins from the weekly changing in the first years meeting places. Today, according to the rotating principle, the practice of re-appointing the president and most of the club offices annually.

The history of Rotary is closely linked to the history of the United Nations: In 1945, 49 Rotarians participated in the drafting of the United Nations Charter. UNESCO was founded on the basis of a Rotary Conference, and Rotary International is still an official observer at the United Nations as a non-governmental organization.