Common research questions
A.Z. Baker breaks ground for the construction of Rotary International headquarters on Ridge Avenue in Evanston, Illinois, USA, in 1953. Rotary Images
My relative was a Rotarian. How can I find more information about former Rotarians?
Rotary History and Archives staff can search for your relative's name in the archives database and the leadership index file, which contains information about past district governors through 1997, in case your relative was a past district governor. Staff can provide you with access to past issues of The Rotarian and any other Rotary documents in which your relative's name appears.
Please keep in mind that, unless your relative moved into a leadership position at the district or international level, we may have very little information about him or her.
Our club will be celebrating its anniversary soon. What information do you have about our club’s history?
Rotary History and Archives has past issues of the Official Directory, from 1911 to present, which you can use to compile a list of past club presidents and secretaries and district assignments. Staff can also search the image database for photographs of club members and provide you with access to past issues of The Rotarian to search for photos or references to club members.
While we do not typically maintain club records, we may have some relevant documents, such as:
- Application for membership
- List of charter members
- Extension surveys
- Constitution and bylaws
- Notice of admission
- Press clippings
- Charter night programs
- Anniversary publications
We recommend that you also take advantage of resources in your own community, such as local historical societies, public libraries, and the collections of individual Rotarians.
For more information, contact the Rotary History and Archives staff well in advance of your club’s anniversary event at email@example.com.
How do I find a Rotary club's year of incorporation or past Form 990?
Registering for a free GuideStar account is a great way to find more information about Rotary clubs and other nonprofit organizations. GuideStar (www.guidestar.org) is a database of information about more than 1.7 million nonprofits, with access to board, employee, and volunteer data; founding and ruling years; National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) codes; and Forms 990.
How do I find a list of books published about RI or a specific Rotary club?
By visiting the Rotary archives, you can search our collection of books about RI and individual Rotary clubs, as well as books written by Paul Harris. Please keep in mind that we do not have a complete library of club histories.
WorldCat (www.worldcat.org) allows you to search the catalogs of more than 10,000 libraries around the world. Registering for a free account lets you set up lists of books you can share with others. If you find a specific item you are looking for, you can see the list of libraries that own it. You also can find research articles and audiobooks for download or online viewing for no charge.
Where can I find quick facts or trivia about Rotary?
The Rotary Global History Fellowship’s website (www.rghf.org) is updated regularly and has historical information about RI and its clubs, districts, countries, and people.
Where else can I look for information about RI besides Rotary History and Archives?
Your local library or historical society can also help you with your research. Public libraries can help to identify local historical collections, newspaper archives, and genealogical records that may have information about Rotarians or Rotary clubs. Rotarians and Rotary clubs sometimes donate materials and records to their local libraries or historical societies.
If you are researching a particular club, you can check directly with the club to see if it retains its own records.