History of the Rotary Club?

Hi, we got a new assignment, we have to research the history of the Rotary Club. The thing is I don’t know how to get more information other than what is available on the internet. I’m especially interested in the founding members of the first Rotary Club in Chicago. On Rotary.org there is very little information - just the basics. It says lawyer Paul Harris started the club and that there were three other founding members. I somewhere read, however, that one of the founding members was also the founder of the Yellow Cab Company. Could somebody please point me in the right direction? I mean, maybe somebody has a member of the International Rotary Club?

Thank you so much

Andreana, have you seen this page on the Rotary International site? It looks pretty complete. It names the other men who founded the club with Harris, and it tells their professions.

rotary.org/aboutrotary/histo … years.html

Hi Jamie, thank you for your response, maybe I should have given you more information about our assignment. I mean, I in some way I have already gotten used to getting support from you and that’s why I’d like to back up a bit. We actually have to do more than read up on the history of the Rotary Club. I have read everything I could find on the topic including the history section of the official Rotary Club website. Now we have to come up with more information that explains the success of the Rotary Club (social events, economic conditions at that time, ethnic background of the founders, behavior patterns of humans, etc.)

We also have to come up with similar organizations that had been successful before the Rotary Club. I’m reluctant to post the original assignment online because we are required to do the research ourselves and I do like this work but studying on our own is rather boring. I thought I might as well exchange my thoughts with you and we could even detect things we hadn’t seen that way before. Anyway, I’ll check the biographies of the original Rotary Club founders and get back to you with concrete questions if that’s OK with you.

Have a good weekend.

If you go to Wikipedia and search on the words “service clubs”, you can find a list of American service clubs of various sorts that still survive today. Most of the American ones in the list were founded before Rotary was. The only ones in the list that you can see evidence of in a typical American city are the Loyal Order of Moose (you can see their lodges, but you never seem to meet anyone who is a member), the Volunteers of America (very large and active), and the Knights of Columbus (huge and extremely active).

Other clubs that began in the US, such as Kiwanis, and Lions International, are in the international list in Wikipedia, but most of them are not as old as Rotary.

One thing you have to take into consideration with the success of these organizations in the US is that Americans have a long history of volunteerism and independent charitable action that isn’t as strong as in many other countries. It’s because we don’t wait for – or even trust – the government to fix problems, and we just take care of many things ourselves. Before students enter the workforce, they usually have volunteer work to list on their r?sum?s. (For example, in high school I worked in a drug crisis center, and my girlfriend worked in the pediatric ward of the hospital.)

People in many other countries just don’t understand this phenomenon here. In the mid-1990s, I had to help show a delegation of Czech mayors and businessmen around the city of Hamtramck, Michigan. They were learning how a civic development plan works here. Everywhere they went, something was being run by volunteers. The local bankers had volunteered and formed a civic development corporation to help the city get grants for improvements. The mayor of the second largest Czech city said to me, “Let me see if I understand this. The grant money goes through their banks, their banks take a cut, and then they send it on to the city’s account, right?” I told him, “No, I’m sure all the money goes to the city. Nobody takes a cut of it.” The Czech mayor looked shocked, and said, “Then why do they DO it?!”

The delegation went on to other parts of town. There were volunteers helping with public safety and neighborhood beautification, etc. The Czechs kept wondering how these people were paid. They weren’t paid. Finally, at a big manufacturing company, they couldn’t stand it anymore. A spokesman for the company said, “Our employees go into the public schools as volunteers and help teach math and industrial skills…” A Czech blurted out, “What do they get from it?” The spokesman (an Englishman) looked over at him speechless, but then explained that they didn’t get anything. Some of the Czechs started to get angry, as if they thought people had been tricking them all day. They started shouting, “TELL US CONCRETELY WHAT THEY GET!” There was no answer to this. The volunteers didn’t get anything but a feeling of satisfaction. Things have changed in the past 10 years in the Czech Republic, so Czechs today would have a better understanding of this phenomenon, but it would still probably be a bit disorienting for some of them.

Here is a good article about the reasons service clubs and other such organizations succeed in the US:


Here is one by a British historian that explains something about the American mentality in relation to charity and volunteerism:

forbes.com/columnists/global … 3/018.html

Hello Jamie, thank you a lot for pointing me into this direction, you added a very good aspect to my preparation. Now I want to incorporate this entire question of philanthropy and charity into my presentation. I remember a few months back one our guest professors from the States ran a workshop ‘On success strategies’. In the beginning not many students were interested in taking part but then a friend of mine went there and she told me I had to attend it too. I must admit my first impression of it was not the best. It all sounded a bit like those TV shows but then we had to define such terms like success, values, goals etc. and we got involved in a lot of controversial discussion. That professor mentioned some things I had never heard before and I took notes.

For example, he said there was the law of increasing returns which says that whatever you do to or for another person comes back to you multiplied no matter if it’s good or bad. He said the return could be very far removed from the original person you did something to but the reaction is inevitable. He said if you truly understand this law you no longer think about what you might get in return before helping somebody else. You just help if you can without asking about the return because it will come no matter what you think. He also said most people would not accept this law and this is why they always wonder how to get rich ;-).

I’ve heard this idea before, but I’m not a big fan of it. It’s still primitive, because it encourages people to do good because of the good they will get in return, rather than for the benefit they are giving to other people. In my opinion, this is still a gimme gimme attitude. It’s not very far advanced from the idea of some people that you should do charity because it makes you feel good.

I think that people should be looking for what good they can do for other people at the present moment and in the future, rather than at what good it will get them later. There are some types of charity that are unpleasant, you never see the good that will come from it, and the recipients can be ungrateful or even hostile. Some charitable tasks are very ugly, but someone has to do them. I didn’t like soaking a heroin addict’s absesses in hot water when I was 17 and working as a volunteer in a crisis center. That guy probably died of his addiction. Likewise people I know who were distributing food donations to a poor family, only to find out that the family was greedy, ungrateful, and were angrily bigoted against whites. If a tree falls in a deserted woods, is there sound? You never know. But you have to try.

I did, however, see at street level that some people’s business fortunes in post-communist Eastern Europe grew very fast because they were honest, reliable and kept their promises. This created great word-of-mouth, and their customers increased exponentially. Meanwhile, there were other entrepreneurs who behaved like monkeys trying to hoard all the bananas for themselves. These guys spun and spun their wheels but didn’t go anywhere. They would then conclude that the successful guys were stealing to get rich, but their real problem was that they themselves were not honest or benevolent toward people, so customers never came back.

I think your acts train you to be a specific kind of person. People I know who behave kindly and benevolently eventually train themselves to be kinder and more benevolent. This makes them likable, and people want to be near them and do things for them. People who do a lot of evil, selfish things start to think and look the way they act, and so people stay away from them and don’t do them any favors.