2nd Convention, Portland, Oregon

2nd Convention, Portland, Oregon
August 21-23 with 149 in attendance

Paul Harris was elected for a second term office as president of the National Association of Rotary clubs and Chesley R. Perry was elected for the 2nd of what would become 32 terms as secretary, then general secretary of RI.

Establishment of the Rotary Year
There are 22 clubs represented in this rare photo of the 1911 convention delegates. There are about 93 individuals in the photo. Some are wearing officer's ribbons very similar to what we use today. Also seen are ribbons that appear to have a "Portland Rose" on them. In the area of the Chicago delegation there is a woman wearing ribbons similar to the men. She is singular in her gender.

Click here to see each delegation: Portland 15, SF 2, Seattle 4, Tri City (Oakland 3 - Note Paul Harris holding their banner), Chicago 1 (Note women in photo. Secretary Ches Perry - center, Harry Ruggles to his right), Philadelphia 19, St. Louis 11, Kansas City 13, Minneapolis 9 Frank Collins "Service Above Self", Des Moines 27, Providence 22, Lincoln 14, Spokane 21, Tacoma 8, Cleveland 18 and Arch Klumph RIP 1916 - father of The Rotary Foundation), New Orleans 12, Salt Lake City 24, Duluth 25, Los Angeles 5, New York City 6, St. Paul 10, and Boston 7 & Detroit 16
Rare 1911 Delegate Photo

To view sections of this portrait, the
The original, framed photograph (37 x 8.5 inches) has been donated, by
Rotary Global History fellowship, to the Rotary International Archives
as an expression of thanks for the many contributions by the archivists to this project.
Frank Collins, from an article in The Rotarian February 1977. This Minneapolis, Minnesota Rotarian spoke at the 1911 Portland convention. It was Rotary's second convention with Paul Harris in his second term as president of the National Association of Rotary Clubs. After meeting Harris, he was asked to address the convention and one phrase of his talk stuck: "Service, Not Self."

Arthur Frederick Sheldon joined Rotary Club of Chicago in 1908. He became responsible for our vocational service, but is best known for our motto when he coined the phrase, "He profits most who serves best." He first reported on it at the 1910 convention, but Paul Harris asked that he present it again at Portland. Unable to attend, it was read to great acclamation.

The second Convention of the National Association met at the Commercial Club Convention Hall in the City of Roses - Portland, Oregon - between the 21st and 23rd of August 1911.

Again, there was a clear effort to define the embryonic organization.Arthur Sheldon gave a written definition of Rotary. He went on to extend his famous words in an essay entitled 'My Platform' discussing the so-called scientific age. It said, "That the science of business is the science of service, he profits most who serves best."

James E Pinkham (President of the Seattle Rotary Club)- someone who understood the true notion of Rotary better than almost anyone in 1911 - and Chesley Perry also wrote of the "Elements of Rotarianism". It has been said that it was Pinkham that picked out Sheldon's famous phrase to be used by the Rotary movement.

The Elements of Rotarianism included concepts such as Integrity - the qualification of Rotary, Opportunity - the privilege of Rotary, Service - the responsibility of Rotary and Success - the result of Rotary.

There were clearly many differences of opinion as to the definition and objectives of Rotary. The third part of the Resolutions Committee stated, "That as each member is selected to represent his business, an invitation and opportunity is thereby extended to him to use the Club and his acquaintance therein in the extension of his business relations with other members and their friends, and that no obligation of patronage exists."

Twenty-two Clubs were represented with a total delegate vote of 58. 149 delegates attended. Perry was announced as Rotary's new secretary on a salary of $100 per month plus $25 expenses.

Was she the second employee of Rotary? Earlier in 1911 the Rotary Club of Chicago and the National Association of Rotary Clubs had agreed to share the services of a stenographer. The first office of the Association had been in Harris' office. With the move to the 1st Nat'l Bank Bldg on Dearborn, the association got its first office and Chicago shared the offices as their first office.

Furniture for Perry's new office were loaned by Ches and Silvester Schiele. Unlike today, the initial clubs were allowed to design their own Rotary wheels with "such additional element as may be peculiar to the city in which the Club is located". This produced a wide variety of taste and design!

When the Convention was called to order, it was announced that the Rotary Club of London had been formed. Clubs in foreign countries was discussed extensively. This made a total of 36 Clubs with 34 in the USA, 1 in Canada (Winnipeg) and 1 in England (London). Interest in Rotary was spreading fast with reports of initial movement in places as diverse as Atlanta, Saskatoon, Glasgow and Melbourne, Australia.

Not for the first time, President Harris admitted to the Convention that he had acted on his own initiative and with no authority to consider forming the Rotary Club of London. As always, Harris motives were genuine and pure. Paul had taken up with Harvey C Wheeler of the Boston Rotary Club the matter of establishing a Club in London. Wheeler responded that the club had been successfully started. Wheeler intended to start a club in Paris,France the next year. Harris also told of how he was in communication with gentlemen in Glasgow, Scotland and also with gentlemen in Melbourne and Sydney Australia.

Even at this early stage, it was becoming clear that Rotary could potentially become an international force.

NOTE - Formation, Organization and Chartering all occur at different times!

Doug Rudman & Calum Thomson

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