Rotary history timeline

Discover the history of Rotary International in France and around the world in this timeline, from its creation to the present day.



The Rotary Club of Chicago was founded on February 23 by a young lawyer, Paul Harris, and three friends.


The Foundation

Launch of The Rotary Foundation, now one of the world's largest private foundations.

History of The Rotary Foundation


Rotary in France

Birth of Rotary in France, with the club of Paris. The French President hosted a reception at the Palais de l'Elysée.

History of Rotary Paris



A Rotarian conference in London on education and cultural exchange leads to the creation of UNESCO.

The creation of Unesco
Rotary and the United Nations



49 Rotarians participate in the drafting of the United Nations Charter.

The creation of the United Nations


Death of Paul Harris

Rotary founder dies. Donations in his memory are used to create the scholarship program.

Rotary scholarship programs

1962 – 1968

Rotaract & Interact

Launch of Interact and Rotaract clubs, youth service clubs sponsored by Rotary clubs.

Rotaract history


Youth Exchange Program

Launch of The Rotary Foundation's first program, the Rotary Scholarships for abroad advanced studies.

District 1660: Youth Exchange Program
French Rotarian Youth Center


Fight against Polio

Launch of the PolioPlus program, and grants for teachers in higher education.

Official website:


Women in Rotary

Women are eligible for membership of Rotary clubs.

Women in Rotary


The centenary

Rotary International celebrates 100 years. Over the past 20 years, more than 2 billion children worldwide have been vaccinated against polio, as part of the PolioPlus program.


First woman executive

Catherine Noyer-Riveau (RC Paris) becomes the first woman in history to be elected to the Board of Directors of Rotary International.

Interview with Catherine Noyer-Riveau (archive)


Partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offers to double Rotary's polio eradication funding to $35 million a year for five years. Rotary accepts the challenge and launches the "End Polio: Make History Today" initiative.

Press release
Bill Gates' speech at the 2017 International Convention
Why Bill Gates Partners With Rotary To Eradicate Polio (Archive) (Forbes)


Rotaract ascends

The status of Rotaractors is changing: they are now considered Rotarians.
It's a major sign of recognition for all the work they've done.