Local History

The Indianapolis club, founded in 1913, was one of the earliest (number 58) and one of the largest. The club has long been committed to community service projects such as the Gleaners, Rotary building at Riley Memorial Hospital, the Southwest Social Service Centre, the Junior Achievement headquarters, the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center, and the Rotary Greenway Project.

The club operates multiple projects ranging from support of specific inner city schools to Habitat for Humanity, a model trade fair, and citywide initiatives for nonviolence and area growth. Since 1913 the Rotary Club of Indianapolis has had the enviable ability to draw the real community business heads, nonprofit executives, and political leaders into its service programs. To provide long-term financial support for its social service projects, the club established the Indianapolis Rotary Foundation in 1947. The club’s “Senior Active” and “Active” lists reflect many of the most influential names in Indiana and corporate history, and the accomplishments of the club mirror the growth of the city itself.

In 1996 the Board of Directors charged the History Committee to develop a replacement for the earlier study of the club’s history. The committee defined the project, issued requests for proposals, selected the author and the publisher, and enthusiastically oversaw the project. Written by E. Bruce Geelhoed, director of the Center for Middletown Studies at Ball State University, this engaging new history supersedes John McDowell’s outstanding From Flood to Fire: The History of Indianapolis Rotary Club, 1913-1968, which chronicles the club’s first half century. In 2000 the Guild Press of Indiana published The Rotary Club of Indianapolis, 1913-1998: A Club, a Community, and a Century.

This book details the full range of the club’s active and fascinating history from its founding through the 1998 Rotary International Convention in Indianapolis. Geelhoed tracks some common themes that run through more than eight decades of the club’s history. This new work updates the story on the basis of extensive research and includes more than a hundred photographs and illustrations from the archives of the Rotary Club of Indianapolis.