What Is Rotary?

History of Rotary International & Rotary in Georgia

The first official meeting of Rotary took place on February 23, 1905 when a young Chicago attorney named Paul P. Harris met with a few friends to organize a fellowship of businessmen from different occupations without restrictions on politics or religion. The group held regular meetings and those meetings rotated between the offices of group members which led to the name “Rotary Club.”

The Rotary Club spread rapidly in its early years with 16 clubs by 1910 and its first club outside the US in 1912. In 1913, four prominent Atlantans: Ivan Allen, Sr. (founder of the city's leading office supply store and father of Atlanta's famous mayor), Henry W. Grady, Jr. (son of the prominent newspaperman), Evelyn Harris (son of Joel Chandler Harris), and a leading insurance executive named Howard Goldert, established Georgia’s first Rotary club. The club was founded on June 18, 1913 in the former law office of Woodrow Wilson at the corner of Marietta and Forsyth Streets. Shortly after this gathering they founded The Rotary Club of Atlanta, and soon after clubs organized in Savannah, Rome, Macon and Augusta.