Life and times of Paul Harris
Penned by Paul
Once, in response to a survey sent from Princeton asking what works he had authored, Harris wrote “nothing.”
In fact, around the time of the survey (circa 1916-17), he already had written several articles for The Rotarian, beginning with “Rational Rotarianism” in January 1911, the magazine's first issue. Harris's article was a special message that he wanted to distribute to every Rotarian, but Rotary had no official communications vehicle. Chesley R. Perry, Rotary’s first general secretary, suggested creating a publication to disseminate news and club business, with the cost offset by advertisers. Thus, the National Rotarian, later The Rotarian, was born, with Harris's essay on the front page.
The February 1915 issue of The Rotarian included Harris's “Passing Our Tenth Milestone,” a tribute to Rotary on its 10th anniversary in which he talks about wanting to write the “Rotarian good book.” He would do so when he published This Rotarian Age (1935), in which he explored what causes people to do good things and described Chicago in 1905, particularly how it was ripe for the kind of change Rotary could offer. He also addressed Rotary’s future challenges and its potential as a force for world peace.
In 1935, Harris and Jean traveled for three months through Southeast Asia and Australia. Harris wanted to publish his account of this trip as a book and later to expand it into a series chronicling other trips. He decided to call the series Peregrinations, which he felt described his travels as an ambassador of Rotary. He titled the account of his journey to Southeast Asia and Australia Peregrinations II (1935), thinking he would combine the pamphlet-style reports he'd written about earlier trips to Europe and South Africa into a book to be called Peregrinations I . Although he would write Peregrinations III (1937) about his trip to Central and South America, he never compiled Peregrinations I .
Harris also wrote introductions to books such as Making New Friends by Lillian Dow Davidson (1934) and Rotary: A Business Man’s Interpretation by Frank H. Lamb (1927). Lamb’s book “is not a mere sketch of Rotary,” Harris said. “It is an inspiring story of the rise of man, a story of the development of the service ideal and of the part which Rotary has played.”