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Paul Harris
The Founder of Rotary
Born 19-Apr-1868
Died 27-Jan-1947
listen to a radio speech of Paul Harris gave in Boston in 1933.
Voice of Paul Harris
TRF Contributions

Paul P. Harris was born at Racine, Wisconsin, USA on April 19, 1868. A man with varied experiences, he received the Bachelor of Physical Culture and LLD degrees from the University of Vermont and the LLB degree from the University of Iowa. He was later awarded a honorary PhD in 1933 by the University of Vermont.

He worked as a newspaper reporter, a business college teacher, a cowboy and a salesman for a marble and granite concern, before finally settling down in Chicago as a lawyer in 1896. On 2 July 1910 he married Jean Thompson, a Scottish girl and a co-member of the Chicago prairie club.

The first Rotary Club was formed on February 23, 1905 by:

  1. Paul Harris with
  2. Sylvester Schiele - a coal merchant,
  3. Gustavus Loehr - a mining engineer and
  4. Hiram Shorey - a merchant tailor,

to bring together business and professional men in friendship and fellowship. This first club meeting formed the nucleus for the thousands of Rotary clubs that were later organised throughout the world. These new clubs were called "Rotary" because members met in rotation in their various places of business.

Paul Harris was elected President in the First Rotary Convention for the year 1910-11. He was then re-elected President for 1911-12 of the National association of Rotary Clubs. Their bulletin came to be known as "The National Rotarian."

Elected President Emeritus of Rotary International in 1912, he was active in Rotary until his death on 27-Jan-1947