Discover Kiwanis' history Learn more about Kiwanis' history, from its 1915 beginning in Detroit, Michigan, to the celebration of 100 years in 2015. Get inspired to write the next 100 years of service and fellowship!
1915 - JANUARY 21 Kiwanis is founded in Detroit, Michigan. 1915- OCTOBER 19 The second Kiwanis club is chartered in Cleveland, Ohio.
1916 - MAY 18–19 The first convention is held in Cleveland, Ohio. Business includes approving the organization’s constitution and electing George Hixson as the president of the “National Kiwanis Club.”
1916 - NOVEMBER 1 The Kiwanis Club of Hamilton, Ontario, is chartered, making Kiwanis an international organization.
1917 The first issue of an official Kiwanis publication is titled Kiwanis Club.
1918 Total membership reaches approximately 10,000. The first Kiwanis headquarters is established in Chicago. Roe Fulkerson is named the first editor of Kiwanis magazine at the Providence convention.
1919 Kiwanis moved from its first, two-room office to Chicago’s Mallers Building, where it remained until 1924.
1919 - MAY 21 Convention attendees in Birmingham, Alabama, raise US$17,500 in less than 10 hours to buy Kiwanis from founder Allen Browne. 1920 Total membership reaches 28,500 in 267 clubs. Roe Fulkerson coins the motto “We Build,” saying Kiwanis clubs build communities.
1922 The first convention held outside of the United States is hosted in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
1924 Total membership reaches nearly 90,000, with more than 1,200 clubs. The six Objects of Kiwanis are adopted and remain unchanged to this day.
1925 Kiwanis sponsors the first Key Club, at Sacramento High School in California.
1927 An emphasis on education is introduced at the 1927 convention in Memphis, Tennessee.
1931 The Kiwanis International Office moves to Chicago’s McGraw-Hill Building, where it would be housed until 1959.
1939 State College students pose outside their Circle K House residence in Pullman, Washington. The 1939 project would lead to the founding of Circle K International.
1940 Walter Zeller donated 25 Canadian silver dollars to be auctioned off, establishing the fund we know today as the Kiwanis International Foundation.
1946 Following a three-year suspension of the annual convention due to World War II, the Kiwanis International convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, hosts a record 10,000 attendees.
1947 The first Circle K International club, for college and university male students, is chartered. 1952 Key Club charters its 1,000th club.
1959 Kiwanis International moves its office to 101 East Erie Street in Chicago.
1961 Kiwanis International is 5,000 clubs strong. Kiwanis International convention delegates vote to open clubs outside the United States and Canada.
1962 - MAY 15 The Kiwanis Club of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, becomes the first club organized outside the United States and Canada.
1963 - FEBRUARY 25 The first club in Europe is organized, in Vienna, Austria.
1964 Tokyo, Japan, joins Kiwanis as the first club in Asia.
1967 - JULY 7 The first club in Central/ South America is organized in Bucaramanga, Colombia. Key Club grows beyond the United States and Canada, forming a club in Nassau, Bahamas.
1968 Kiwanis International Europe is formed.
1973 Circle K opens its membership to women. 1975 Record-breaking attendance at the Kiwanis International convention in Atlanta, Georgia, reaches nearly 20,000.
1975 Builders Club becomes an official Kiwanis-sponsored program for young teens. Female membership opens in Key Club wherever area laws require, expanding to all its clubs in 1977.
1982 Kiwanis International opens its office at 3636 Woodview Trace in Indianapolis, Indiana. CKI membership surpasses the 14,500 mark.
1983 The first convention outside the United States and Canada is hosted in Vienna, Austria.
1987 - JULY 7 After years of deliberation, delegates approve an amendment to welcome female members into Kiwanis clubs. More than 3,000 women join within the first six months.
1989 - SEPTEMBER 16 The Kiwanis Club of Miskolc, Hungary, becomes the first club in Eastern Europe.
1990 - OCTOBER 1 Kiwanis launches a three-year Major Emphasis Program, Young Children: Priority One.
1991 Kiwanis International Europe becomes Kiwanis International-European Federation
1994 Kiwanis joins the fight to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders. Delegates to the Kiwanis International convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, officially kick off the Worldwide Service Project, resolving to raise US$75 million to fight IDD.
1995 Total membership in Kiwanis clubs around the world is 315,537.
1996 With an assist from tech-minded members in California, Kiwanis International launches its first website, www.kiwanis.org.
1999 K-Kids club officially joins the Kiwanis family as a service club for elementary school students.
2000 Aktion Club, for adults living with disabilities, joins the Kiwanis family as a sponsored program.
2004 Service leadership is introduced to teenage students through Key Leader weekends.
2005 “Serving the Children of the World” becomes the new Kiwanis motto. 2010 - MAY 19 Key Club membership surpasses the 250,000 mark.
2010 - JUNE 24 At the 2010 international convention in Las Vegas, Kiwanis pledges to raise US$110 million and join UNICEF in the effort to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus from countries still affected by the disease. CKI and Key Club Alumni campaign, an effort to engage former SLP club members in continued involvement, is launched.
2012 - JULY Kiwanis celebrates 25th anniversary of women in Kiwanis at the New Orleans convention.
2015 Join us at the 100th anniversary celebration at the 2015 convention in Indianapolis, Indiana to see what new accomplishments will be added ... 2015 - October Sue Petrisin becomes the first female Kiwanis International president.