Courtesy of  Ray Leisy, Club Historian
The History of Women in Rotary Part One

1904 The first meeting of Paul Harris and three friends in Chicago, Illinois

1910 At the first Rotary Convention in Chicago, some delegates made the first attempt to sanction “women’s auxiliaries.”  It was rejected overwhelmingly.

1912 The Minneapolis Women’s Rotary Club was established. The Club was not sanctioned but remains active today. The Belfast, Ireland, Rotary Club considered allowing women as guests, but rejected the idea. Ida Buell of the “Duluth Woman’s Club” spoke to the Duluth Rotary International’s Convention about letting them form Rotary women’s clubs. No action was taken.

1914 For the first time the term “Rotary Ann’s” was used for the wives of San Francisco and Philadelphia Club Rotary Presidents, Ann Bruner and Ann Gundaker.

1915 The Rotary Club of Saint Paul, Minnesota, made opera singer Florence MacBeth an honorary member. This was the first of many “unofficial” members.

1915 The Rotary International Board of Directors officially disapproved of the formation of any woman’s auxiliaries.

1917 The R.I. Board reversed itself and said that it had no objections to the formation of a Ladies’ Auxiliary of the _(Local)_Rotary Club.

1921 The Providence, Rhode Island, Club made Blanche Dayne Cressy, wife of vaudevillian Will Cressy, an honorary member. Afterwards she claimed to be the only female Rotarian in the United States.

1921 Mrs. Alwilda Harvey, wife of the Chicago Rotary President, hosted a luncheon for 59 women who founded a new organization called “Women of Rotary.”

1921 The Rotary Convention at Edinburgh, Scotland, supplements the Rotary Handbook by prohibiting women as members of Rotary or using the name “Rotary” in any of their organizations. The term “Women’s Auxiliary” was permitted. The Convention adds the words “men” to the definition of Rotary members, just to make it clear.

1923 The Rotary Club of Manchester, England, invites women to form an auxiliary for the Manchester Club. They instead form their own club and call it the “Inner Wheel.”

1928 The Oklahoma City Rotary Club initiates the first Rotary Ann Auxiliary.

1946 Jean Harris, wife of Paul Harris, becomes the first Honorary member of the Inner Wheel of the Edinburgh Rotary Club.

1949 The Rotary International Board permits women to apply for Ambassadorial Scholarships.

Part Two next week. Much of the information contained in this article is courtesy of the Rotary Club of San Jose East.