RI President: RTN. Mark Daniel Maloney President: RTN. V P VERMADistrict Governor: RTN. DEEPAK GUPTA


Early years

The first Rotary Club was founded in 1905 in Chicago by attorney Paul P. Harris: on February 23, 1905, Harris held the first meeting with three friends, Silvester Schiele, coal merchant, Gustave E. Loehr, mines engineer and Hiram E. Shorey, tailor. The members chose the name Rotary because they rotated club meetings to each member's office each week.

The National Association of Rotary Clubs was formed in 1910. That same year, Rotary chartered a branch in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, marking the first establishment of an American-style service club outside the United States. This was followed in 1911 by the founding of the first outside North America in Dublin, Ireland. Other early international branches were Cuba in 1916 and India in 1920. The name was changed to Rotary International in 1922 because branches had been formed in six continents. By 1925, Rotary had grown to 200 clubs with more than 20,000 members.

World War II and Nazi Germany

Many clubs were disbanded throughout the world during World War II, and Rotary members took an active part in providing emergency relief to victims of the war. Rotary also contributed to the creation of UNESCO and the UN.

In Germany, the Nazis saw international organizations as suspect and considered Rotary a branch of international freemasonry and therefore incompatible with the "ethnic German movement". Many German Rotary clubs ceased operation because of government opposition and some members became actively engaged in the anti-Nazi resistance movement. Other Rotary clubs, however, excluded Jewish members and otherwise appeased Nazi demands. In Munich, Nobel Prize-winning author Thomas Mann was removed from the membership as a political enemy of the Nazis. Over four years, negotiations took place between the central headquarters in Chicago and the Nazi Party. Rotary's cause was advocated before the NSDAP party court: a Dr. Grill, Governor for the Rotary 73d district, arguing that the German Rotary was compliant with the goals of the Nazi government. These negotiations failed, and in 1937 the Nazi Party declared membership of both Rotary and the Nazi Party to be incompatible. In 1938, clubs dissolved themselves and charters were withdrawn. Some clubs maintained an activity as "Friday Clubs".

From 1945

Rotarian clubs in Eastern Europe were also disbanded from 1947 to 1989, under the communist regimes.

In 1985, Rotary launched its PolioPlus program to immunize all of the world's children against polio. In 2005 Rotary claimed to have contributed half a billion dollars to the cause, resulting in the immunization of nearly two billion children worldwide.

In 1988 Hamas labeled Rotary International (and Lions Clubs International) a Zionist organization and, according to the 1988 Covenant of Hamas, is bent on its ultimate obliteration.

In 1989, women are allowed to join Rotary International and the service club started opening new clubs in former communist countries and the first Russian club is chartered in 1990

As of 2006, Rotary has more than 1.2 million members in over 32,000 clubs among 200 countries and geographical areas, making it the most widespread by branches and second largest service club by membership, behind Lions Club International. The number of rotarians has been stagnating or for a few years: Between 2002 and 2006, they went from 1,245,000 to 1,223,000. North America accounts for 450,000 members, Asia for 300,000, Europe for 250,000, Latin America for 100,000, Oceania for 100,000 and Africa for 30,000.

Other Rotary sponsored organizations include: Rotaract a service club for young men and women aged 18 to 30 with around 185,000 members in 8,000 clubs in 155 countries; Interact a service club consisting of more than 239,000 young people aged 1418 with over 10,700 clubs in 108 countries; and Rotary Community Corps (RCC) a volunteer organization with an estimated 103,000 non-Rotarian men and women in over 4,400 communities in 68 countries.