Paul P. Harris


One day in the fall of 1900, Paul P. Harris met attorney Bob Frank for dinner in a well-off neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. They took a walk around the area and stopped at shops along the way. Harris was impressed by how Frank had made friends with many of the shopkeepers.

Since moving to Chicago to set up his law practice, Harris had not encountered the kind of camaraderie that Frank enjoyed with his fellow businessmen. He wondered whether there was a way to channel and expand this type of fellowship, which reminded him of the New England town where he’d grown up.

The thought persisted that I was experiencing only what had happened to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others in the great city … I was sure that there must be many other young men who had come from farms and small villages to establish themselves in Chicago … Why not bring them together? If others were longing for fellowship as I was, something would come of it.

— Paul P. Harris, My Road to Rotary

Eventually, Harris persuaded other local businessmen to meet and discuss forming a club for commercial trade, community, and fellowship. His vision laid the foundation for the Rotary of today.
Continue through the exhibit to learn more about Harris, the founder of Rotary.