What is Rotary?
The world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, was formed on February 23, 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to capture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth.
Derivation of the Rotary Name
The name “Rotary” was chosen in the early days of the first Rotary Club in Chicago to reflect the custom of rotating the site of club meetings between members’ places of business. This rotation was designed as an integral part of the Founders’ original concept to acquaint members with one another’s vocations and to promote business, but the Club’s rapid growth inevitably made the custom impractical.
Rotary’s principal motto, “Service Above Self,” is a powerful testament to the enthusiasm with which Rotarians embrace the ideal of service, and complimented by its other precept, “He Profits Most Who Serves Best.” The roots of both of these adages, adopted as official mottos at the 1950 Rotary International Convention, can be traced back to the first decade of Rotary’s existence; “He profits most who serves his fellows best,” and “Service, not self,” were put forth as Club Slogans. In 1989, the quote, “Service Above Self” was officially designated the principal motto by the Rotary International Council on Legislation.
The Rotary Emblem
Rotary’s first emblem was a simple wagon wheel (in motion with dust) representing civilization and movement. It was designed in 1905 by engraver Montague Bear, a member of the Chicago Rotary Club. His design was adopted by many Rotary Clubs of the time in one form or another. In 1922, authority was given to create and preserve an official emblem, and the following year the present Gear Wheel with 24 cogs and 6 spokes was adopted. A keyway was added to signify the wheel was a “worker and not an idler.” At the Rotary International Convention in 1929, royal blue and gold were chosen as the official colors.
The Object of Rotary
The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
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 of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society
3) The application of the ideal service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life
4) The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service