The History of Rotary

Implementing an idea, Rotary was set up over 100 years ago. Today Rotary is established world-wide and has 1,2 million members in over 200 states and geographical areas.

The History of Rotary and its Archives constitute an authoritative source on the diversity and evolution of Rotary’s history. The archivists and historians established at Lincolnwood, Illinois, USA, constantly update and grant access to a collection of thousands of object from all over the world.

The Slogan of the Rotary International

In 1911 He who serves others achieves the best profit was approved as the Rotary Slogan in the course of the Second Congress of the National Association of Rotary Clubs of America, held at Portland, Oregon. It was an adaptation from the speech held by the Rotarian Arthur Frederick Sheldon at the first congress, held at Chicago the year before. Sheldon had stated that “only the science of correct behaviour towards others is satisfying. Business is the science of human services. He who manages to serve others is the one who at the end will achieve the best profit”.

The Portland Congress also gave birth to the slogan “Service above every personal interest”. During an excursion on the Columbia River Ben Collins, president of the Rotary Club of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, had discussed the most appropriate way to organize a Rotary Club with J.E. Pinkham from Seattle: to serve others, not oneself. Pinkham had invited Paul P. Harris, who was on the same boat, to join in the conversation. Harris asked Collins to take the floor at the congress and the sentence “Serve others, not oneself” was acclaimed with enthousiasm.

At the 1950 Rotary International Congress at Detroit two slightly different versions of the two slogans were adopted officially:  “To serve above all personal interest” and “He who serves others achieves the best profit”. The 1989 Council on Legislation established “To serve above al personal interest” as the main Rotary slogan because it best expressed the philosophy of voluntary service without egoism. “Those who serve others achieve the best profit” was modified by the 2004 Council; the present slogan “He who serves others achieves the best profit” was adopted by the Council in 2010.