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Harris letter
The following letter, from Paul P. Harris to the organizers of the Dallas Rotary Club, was made available through the courtesy of the Rotary Club of Dallas. Dallas was organized April 20, 1911, but was not chartered until April 9, 1912, four clubs after Winnipeg made Rotary international. This letter, to Marvin E. Martin, discussed the issue of secrecy in Rotary. Even in the response to Martin’s inquiry, Paul Harris was teaching the new Rotarian the principles of the organization, without ever indicating that he thought that the club might have been doing something it shouldn’t
June 3, 1911

Mr. M. E. Martin, Pres.
Dallas Rotary Club
Dallas, Texas

My Dear Mr. Martin:

Mr. Chesley R. Perry, National Secretary, recently called to my attention your letter of the 26th inst., addressed to him. I note with sincere gratification the report of progress and the optimism and enthusiasm which characterizes your letter. It portends good things, and I feel sure that some day the Rotary Club of Dallas will take its place well up in the ranks of Rotary, and that it will well represent our territorially greatest and one of our most progressive states.

In regard to the policy of secrecy, we suppose, of course, that you mean that such policy will prevail only until you become organized, and during such period the plan is probably good. Eventually all Rotary Clubs must come out into the light and building toward that end, must at such time be good enough and strong enough so that they can bear the strongest light of day and most careful inspection.

Your new experiences are old experiences. Pretty nearly every club has about the same thing to go through. It has even occurred to some of our newest clubs that they should remain secret organizations; the thought, of course, being prompted by the suggestion that members might lose caste in their neighborhood or be ridiculed by their competitors if their connection with an organization, one of the purposes of which is to benefit the members individually, become known.

There is but one answer to this, and that is to preserve the equilibrium between public and individual activities, and then you will never have occasion to be ashamed of your organization nor afraid to have its purpose fully known. The business benefits will not be lessened. They will eventually be greatly increased by such policy.

The National Association will always be glad to help you.

Please reconsider your conclusions regarding sending at least one delegate to the Convention. You cannot possibly afford to miss it. You could not if the cost were ten times as great.

I am particularly pleased to learn that you are not to be satisfied with anything short of the best possible members. Adherence to such plan will assure te best results.

With kind regards and best wishes, I beg to remain,

Yours very truly,

Paul P. Harris
 


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