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Kiwanis International Records

Identifier: MSS078

Scope and Contents

Board of Trustees Records, 1916-2008, consist of the files from the governing body of Kiwanis International and document the policy and governance decisions made by the board and its committees. The sections in this series include board meetings, committees, constitution and bylaws, members, International Council, and member briefs. Board meeting files contain minutes and transcripts. The minutes of the board meetings, particularly those between 1920 and 1931, take the form of summaries highlighting important decisions and based on verbatim transcriptions. The purpose of the summaries was quick reference. Between 1920 and 1929, several summaries are not available (Jan. 1920, June 1920, Jan. 1921, June 1921, Jan. 1922, June 1922, May 1923, June 1924, July 1924, Dec. 1924, June 1925, June 1926, June 1927, June 1928, June 1929). In these cases, the transcripts are the only documentation of the meetings. During the 1910s and 1920s, the summary files contain agendas, secretary reports, and president reports. By the 1930s, the summaries evolve into the official meeting minutes and contain numerous attachments such as committee reports and/or minutes, policy updates, and changes to organizational documents.

The second form of board meeting documentation is the transcripts taken verbatim during the meetings. These documents include discussions, reports, speeches, and motions before the board of trustees. In some cases, the transcripts are the only documentation of the board meetings. Transcripts are available for 1920-1931, 1941, and 1951.

The committee files document the activity of the board committees and include minutes, reports, correspondence, and special studies. These files include committees designed to help move Kiwanis through important organizational changes such as the Committee on International Extension that studied and made recommendations regarding the expansion of Kiwanis beyond North America and Female Membership, the committee that collected information about the legality of the exclusion women from the organization. The Executive Committee is a governing committee composed of the board officers and charged with making necessary decisions between the meetings of the board. The files of this committee include incomplete sets of meeting minutes and transcripts. The Kiwanis 2001 Committee was a long-range planning committee charged with developing tools to carry Kiwanis into the 21st Century. The Past Presidents Committee is a unique committee composed of past presidents of Kiwanis. While it struggled to define its mission within the organization, the files document the committee’s meeting minutes, its studies of its role and Kiwanis membership, and its advisory role to the Board of Trustees.

The constitution and bylaws is an incomplete set of the official organization governance documents. Missing copies between 1962 and 1981.

International Council files include the annual proceedings of the body composed of the board of trustees and the district governors. Also included are training sessions and a few programs. First convened in 1923, this body has the power to approve changes to the constitution and bylaws of Kiwanis International. The main function of this group, however, became the training and equipping of the district governors. The collection is missing the years 1959-1960 and after 1981. The Proceedings are transcripts of the meetings and include speeches, reports, and minutes.

The collection includes a great deal of information about the members and officers of the board. This section contains biographical information about board members and has four sections: biographical information, biographical sketches, composite sheets, and leadership brochures. Biographical information includes press releases, clippings, and other biographical information about individual members of the board of trustees. Organized alphabetically by last name, it is composed of two parts - Board of Trustees and Presidents.

Composite sheets contain the images of each year’s officers.

The leadership brochures are quick reference guides for each year’s leaders, office, and spouses.

Created for incoming board members, the Member Briefs provide an overview of the organization. Composed of a variety of documents, the briefs summarize the operations, personnel, programs, and districts of Kiwanis International. These files offer a condensed description of the organization and are a good place to gain understanding of the total organization.

Administration Records, 1915-2004, document the activities of the national headquarters of Kiwanis International. Legal - agreements, financials (form 990s), articles of incorporation International growth and development - This section contains information about how Kiwanis developed its international programs and dealt with the difficulties of operating a multi-country organization. It also documents the European Mission - the group of individuals who went to Europe to charter the first clubs outside North America. Also included is correspondence, development of international relationships, and publications. International headquarters - the building, Chicago and Indianapolis, decision to move Membership Development - initiatives, planning, KIAR, club building, member recruitment, pubs, statistics, studies and surveys, newsletters for office staff, special studies, and surveys. Staff member biographies - includes executive officer and headquarters staff Supply Catalogs - includes Kiwanis and sponsored programs. Until 2004/05, the catalogs were bound. The Sponsored Programs catalogs were all bound even though they all had separate catalogs.

Annual Convention Records, 1916-2006, consist of the records documenting Kiwanis’ annual meeting of its members. The materials are filed chronologically and are include five different items: Biographical Sketches, Convention Daily, Printed Materials, Proceedings, and Programs. The biographical sketches cover the years 1970-2004 and document the candidates for international office. These were produced as booklets annually as quick reference guides to voting members at the convention. The copies in the collection are bound and filed at the end of the convention records.

The Convention Daily contains the daily news covering the four days of the annual convention. Included in the collection are issues for 1922-1927, 1929-1930, 1933, 1936, 1939-1940, 1944, 1947, 1949-1969, 1971, 1973-2006. It is unclear whether the newspaper was published during the years it does not appear in the collection.

The Printed materials are various printed brochures, speeches, ephemera, and other materials, specifically for the convention.

The Proceedings are the detailed happenings at during the convention sessions. These are verbatim transcripts and include minutes, speeches, reports, finances, and other business conducted at the convention. In 1923, Kiwanis held a Constitutional Convention and reorganized its operations. Four different meetings were held in relation to this event and its documented beginning with the 1923 convention proceedings. This meeting and the three subsequent meetings document the discussions and actions that resulted in the reorganization of Kiwanis.

The Programs are the printed documents detailing the events at the convention. The collection includes copies of the convention programs 1918, 1920-2004 and 2006 (only 1916-1917, 1919 and 2005 are missing). The programs for 1920-2000 are bound and located at the end of the convention files. The programs for 1918, 2001-2004 and 2006 are filed with their respective years.

District and Club Records, 1915-2007, includes materials created for and associated with Kiwanis Districts and Clubs such as conference packets, correspondence, manuals, and newsletters. This material reflects the International Office’s activity with regard to the training and equipping of Kiwanis subsidiaries. Conference materials include packets of information specifically related to instruction on the effective operations of club and district organizations, educational materials for officers and leaders, forms, and program ideas. While the majority of the conference material is post 1970, some information dating back to 1930 is available. The manuals offer a logistical look at club and district leadership and cover the 1930s and 2000s. Included are manuals for district officers, club officers, and members that offer guidelines for official duties. The newsletters, produced by Kiwanis Headquarters, link the national office with its constituents by providing informational material about nationwide Kiwanis news, major board decisions, and activities of other clubs. Certain newsletters, like Advance Program Suggestions and Monthly Suggestions to Kiwanis Clubs, serve as a programming tool by providing ideas for activities that follow the Kiwanis theme. The newsletters begin in the 1920s and run through the present.

Other information offered in this series includes a listing of club charter dates, a district officers list through 1950, and district historical data. The historical data is statistical data compiled annually by Kiwanis and divided by district. Data collected includes district attendance at the international and district convention, international offices and committees held by individuals from the district, membership numbers, and a brief summary of the district’s history. This information covers the period from the 1940s through 1974.

History Records, 1914-2005, document the origins of Kiwanis International, its clubs, and districts using Kiwanis founder’s materials, Kiwanis historian files, subject files, and written histories. This is the best place for materials offering general overviews of the organization’s history with specific emphasis on the founding and first years of the Kiwanis International. Also included in this series are histories of clubs and districts.

Compiled over time, the founder’s files document the creation of Kiwanis and its purchase from organizer, Allen Browne. The information related to the founders includes interviews, correspondence, obituaries, and biographical data.

Over the course of its history, Kiwanis employed a historian often for the specific purpose of creating a published history of the organization. The files in this section document three historians and include notes from their research, correspondence, unpublished manuscripts, and progress reports to the board. The founder’s files and subject files in this series are the result of the research of the historians. Little except a typed history of Kiwanis is available in Bill Bracke’s files. The files of John Moss include reports to the board and his research on the charter dates of early clubs. The work of O. Samuel Cummings is the most thoroughly documented. Charged with writing a complete history of Kiwanis in the 1950s, his files include correspondence, drafts, and reports to the board on his work. Also documented is his rift with the board that resulted in the history not being published. The final draft of this history, called “The History of Kiwanis: 1915-1952,” is filed with the Kiwanis written histories.

The Subject Files, filed alphabetically, consist of documents gathered over time related to the organization’s history. Included are the original application forms for Kiwanis and its predecessor, the Benevolent Order of Brothers (BOB). Also included are brief histories of specific subjects like the administrative year, the objects, and the name “Kiwanis.”

The largest portion of this series is composed of histories of Kiwanis International, individual clubs, and districts. Filed alphabetically by title, the Kiwanis International histories document the history of the organization from its origins through 1989. The club and district histories, filed alphabetically by the name of the club or district, consist of histories of several individual clubs and districts ranging in date from the 1920s to the early 2000s. While the majority of these files are published histories, some contain other types of documents such as newsletters, convention programs, or unpublished histories.

Program Records, 1923-2005, consist of the records documenting the programs and activities of Kiwanis International. Arranged alphabetically by program, the files include publications, program descriptions, scrapbooks, correspondence, and news clippings. Major Kiwanis program areas include Club Committee Programs (1920s-1970s), Major Emphasis Programs (1969-1993), and the Worldwide Service Project (1994-present). Other programs, created to address specific issues, are prevalent throughout the organization’s history.

The Club Committee Programs focus on program priorities and objectives promoted by each Kiwanis Committee. Included in these files are monographs, logbooks, suggestions, and publications. The most significant part of these files is the program monographs. These short publications indicate the program objectives and highlight service activities the club committee can promote to meet the objectives. This offers an indication of the types of services clubs nationwide were providing. The logbooks serve as a procedure manual for the committee chairperson offering hints and suggestions for creating an annual program of activities. The Program Suggestions is a short newsletter offering further activity suggestions and background information specific to a program committee. The publications in this area generally include short informational brochures for a committee’s area.

In 1969, Kiwanis implemented an annual Major Emphasis Program (MEP). During the year, Kiwanis focused its activities around one theme such as caring for the elderly or teen drug abuse and encouraged clubs to follow suit. Arranged chronologically, the materials in this section contain a MEP packet consisting of a program handbook describing the theme, goals, and suggestions for clubs; a fact brochure, and a pocket brochure. Other items generally included in the packet are news releases, radio commercial scripts, advertisement pages.

The Worldwide Service Project, MEP’s successor, also includes the Young Children: Priority One program started in 1990. These files contain program handbooks, newsletters, and informational brochures about the causes promoted by the organization. One specific cause highlighted in these materials is Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD).

Throughout its history, Kiwanis conducted a number of special programs and campaigns. These programs cover a variety of topics such as patriotism, anti-communism, safety, rural-urban relations, and special events. Special events and campaigns include anniversaries, peace markers along the U.S.-Canadian border, and war programs. These programs are especially prevalent during and shortly after World War II and focus on good citizenship, patriotism, and anti-Communism. Programs like “Its Fun to be an American” and “Citizenship Quotient” emerged at the beginning of the Cold War focused on drawing comparisons between the U.S. and Russia and reminding citizens to be watchful for anti-American efforts. The Ballot Battalion program emphasized the privilege of voting in a democratic society and made Kiwanis clubs centers of voting campaigns. Other programs such as Farm-City Week focused on mutual understanding and lessening the gap between rural and urban society. These files contain correspondence, program books, publications, news clippings, and scripts. A few programs include scrapbooks, created for either program documentation or entry in an award competition. Farm-City Week scrapbooks document the longest period.

Sponsored Programs Records, contain files of the five organizations sponsored by Kiwanis International for children, teenagers, young adults, and individuals with developmental disabilities. These clubs are: K-Kids Club, Builders Club, Key Club, Circle K, and Aktion Club. Key Club and Circle K have similar organizational schemes. Governed by officers and a board, Key Club and Circle K operate at the local, district, and international levels. While guided by Kiwanis staff, both organizations function with a degree of independence. Aktion, Builders, and K-Kids Clubs operate on a more localized basis with the overall administration residing at Kiwanis Headquarters.

Aktion Club Records, 2003-2004, consist of materials related to the Kiwanis service club for individuals with developmental disabilities. This section includes a handbook and program brochures. These materials document member responsibilities and examples of club activities. Information relevant to Aktion’s organization and administration resides in the Kiwanis Board of Trustees minutes and the administrative files.

Builders Club Records, 1980-2007, include materials from the Kiwanis service club for middle school and junior high students. The files consist of a magazine, handbook, newsletters, and brochures. The materials in the collection document highlighted individual club activities and offer ideas for further service. Information relevant to the organization and administration of the Builders Club resides in the Kiwanis Board of Trustees minutes and the administrative files.

Circle K Records, 1940s-2007, document the history of the Kiwanis service club for college students. Files include materials from the board of trustees, annual conventions, programs, and publications. The best-documented portions of the organization’s history begin in 1978 and continue to the present. Little exists in this section regarding the formation of the club, but a written history of Circle K located in the publication files and discussions contained in the Kiwanis Board of Trustees minutes help document the early history. The major components of the Circle K Records include the Annual Convention, Board of Trustees, Conferences, Programs, and Publications.

The annual convention files consist of an incomplete set of convention programs and a few examples of printed materials related to the convention. The programs include information about convention events and speakers. The best place to find further information about the conventions is the Circle K Magazine.

The Board of Trustees (previously called the Board of Officers) files include minutes for the board and some of its committees, copies of the constitution and bylaws, past president biographical information, and board training books. The minutes are the best place to find information about decisions affecting the organization and its program directions. The collection contains incomplete sets of minutes from various other committees including the International Council, House of Delegates, Laws and Regulations, and Executive Committee. The Laws and Regulations Committee information is particularly important because it documents changes and proposed changes in the constitution from the 1950s-1970s when no board minutes or copies of the constitution and bylaws are available. The board files also include biographical information about past presidents from 1959/60-1983/84 and board training books 1998/99-2005/06. These books include a condensation of information about the operations of the organization to guide board members through their year of activity.

Circle K hosts a number of training conferences for members and organization leaders. The collection includes program materials for conferences from the 1980s through 2006. The conference materials focus on developing students’ skills in leadership, team building, motivation, and communication.

Program information for Circle K includes mainly program ideas and kits for club officers focusing on officer duties and increasing membership. The Circle K Magazine is another good resource for information about Circle K programs, activities, and events.

Publications consist of brochures, workbooks, manuals, and information books.

K-Kids Club Records, 2003-2007, consist of the files of the Kiwanis service club for elementary school students. Composed of publications, these files include a magazine, handbook, and brochures. The section mainly documents highlighted club activities and member responsibilities provided in the handbook. Information relevant to K-Kids Club organization and administration resides in the Kiwanis Board of Trustees minutes and the administrative files.

Key Club Records, 1924-2007, include the files of the Kiwanis service club for high school students. Key Club is the most thoroughly documented of the sponsored programs. Specific areas include annual convention, board of trustees, conferences, history, programs, publications, and speeches.

The Annual Convention files include proceedings, programs, and scrapbooks. Convention proceedings are only available in the collection until 2002. The proceedings document important decisions and discussions at the convention and are useful for understanding the governance of the organization. Programs containing information about convention activities and speakers are available beginning in 1944 with programs for 1945, 2001-2004 not in the collection. The convention files also include a scrapbook for 1939. These materials detail convention events and include news clippings and some ephemera. Further information about the Annual Convention can be located in the Keynoter magazine located in the Publication files.

The Board of Trustees’ files contain minutes, biographical information, and year-end reports. This section provides insight into the governance, policy, and activity of the Key Club and is a good place to find an overall view of the organization. The board minutes are complete between 1956 and 1980. The years between 1944 and 1956 and those after 1980 are not in the collection. Further information about governance of the organization between 1944 and 1956 can be found in the Annual Convention Proceedings. Information related to Key Club activities after 1980 can be found in the Year-End Reports. There are two types of biographical files in this section: board members and presidents. Filed chronologically, the board member information includes information about the members during their year of service. This information mainly comes from the 1970s and 1980s and includes biographical data sheets and goal statements. Biographical information of past presidents, filed alphabetically, includes press releases, biographical information, and speeches. Year-end reports detail Key Club events and activities between 1958 and 1990 with only a few years missing. The year-end reports serve as useful tools for evaluating the activities during the year and provides information about the roles of the officers.

Key Club hosts a number of training conferences for members and organization leaders. The collection includes program materials for conferences mainly for conferences after 2000. Conference materials focus on developing students’ skills in leadership, team building, motivation, and communication.

The Key Club history files include information about its early history and evolution into a national organization. Correspondence files of Frank Vincent, founder of Key Club, provide valuable information about how the concept spread outside Sacramento, California area. The Sacramento Club materials include scrapbooks and minutes of the first meetings. The scrapbooks document the early activities of the first Key Club with photographs, publications, programs, and clippings. This section also includes a history of Key Club in Florida, the location of the second Key Club.

The Key Club program files include publications, clippings, and brochures. Like Kiwanis International, Key Club participated in Major Emphasis Programs (MEP) that helped direct clubs’ activities under the heading of a specific theme. The Key Club collection includes handbooks for MEPs. In the 1950s, Key Club annually sponsored a national Youth Rally in Chicago. Materials documenting these events are news clippings and event programs. Further documentation of Key Club programs can be found in the Year-End Reports located in the Board of Trustees’ files and the Keynoter magazine located in the publication files.

The Publications files include such items as brochures, manuals, and a Key Club Information Booklet, Youth Serves Youth booklet that describes Key Club.

The files of speeches contain written speeches given at Key Club events. Speakers include Key club officers, Kiwanis officers, and special guests. The speeches are files alphabetically by last name.

Publications, 1916-2007, include written material published by Kiwanis International. Filed alphabetically by title, the publications include annual reports, brochures, fact books, manuals, and general information publications. These materials give direction to leaders, clubs, districts, and individual members about the operations of Kiwanis, as well as to prospective members. Items of note include the Annual Reports (missing years 1991-1995, 1998-2000), Directories, Kiwanis in Action (missing years 1927, 1929, 1933, 1938-42, 1957, 1994/95), Kiwanis Songbooks, and Themes and Objectives (missing years 1992/93-1996/97).

Also included is the Kiwanis Magazine, as well as magazines for Circle K and Key Club.

Photographs, 1915-2006, are arranged by Kiwanis, Circle K, and Key Club photographs. The Kiwanis section also includes photographs of the activities of the Builders, Aktion, and Golden K Clubs. They are then arranged by subject headings, and document a wide variety of the activities, programs, and personalities within the organization.

Negatives, 1925-2005 and Slides, 1948-2004, are arranged by Kiwanis, Circle K, and Key Club negatives. They are then arranged by subject headings, and document a wide variety of the activities, programs, and personalities within the organization.

Audio/Visual Materials, 1915-2009, includes Cassettes, 1952-2004; Film, 1931-1985; LP Records, 1943-1974; Reel-to Reel Audio, 1952-1984; and Video (VHS, Beta, and U-Matic), 1983-2003.


  • 1914 - 2015


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright laws of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) govern the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Biographical / Historical

The mission of Kiwanis International is “serving the children of the world.”

Kiwanis International is organized by four levels: International, District, Division, and Club. The Circle K and Key Clubs are both organized in the same manner as Kiwanis International, with Kiwanis International as the parent organization.

The International level consists of all clubs worldwide, divided into fifty districts. Kiwanis International is governed by the International Board of Trustees, including the President, President-Elect, Immediate Past President, Vice-President, and the Trustees, who, like all Kiwanis officers, are elected officials. The Board is responsible for establishing and implementing long-range plans for the organization, directing the development of Kiwanis programs, and counseling Kiwanis districts, Circle K, and Key clubs.

Just below the International level, is the District level, consisting of 50 districts. There are between seven and forty divisions within each district. Each district is governed by an elected District Governor, Secretary, and Treasurer.

There are over 800 geographically-divided Divisions worldwide. Each division consists of between three and twenty-five clubs. The divisions are led by Lieutenant Governors, whose primary duty is to assist the clubs.

There are approximately 8,580 individual Kiwanis International clubs in eighty countries worldwide. The leadership of the club includes the Club President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, and the Club Board of Directors. Kiwanis International has many service programs, most often aimed at helping children. The current program, The Eliminate Project, aims to raise money to help eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus. Other such programs include Kiwanis One Day, which is a day of community service; Key Leader, which teaches leadership and team-building skills to teenagers; and Young Children Priority One, which focuses on maternal and child health, child care and development, parent education and support, and safety and pediatric trauma.

The Kiwanis International Annual Convention takes place in the summer, most often in June. Prior to 1983, conventions were typically held in North American locations, however countries worldwide have hosted the convention in more recent years. Delegates attend workshops and events aimed at educating participants on Kiwanis initiatives, leadership, membership recruiting, and providing a chance to meet their fellow Kiwanians. New Kiwanis International Board members are elected at convention as well.

Historical Timeline

Professional organizer Allen S. Browne met with Detroit tailor Joseph C. Prance to discuss organizing a club for businessmen that included social and commercial benefits. Prance agrees, and becomes the first member of the Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order Brothers (BOB) for a membership fee of $5.
Members, (disliking the “BOB” moniker), adopt instead “Kiwanis,” a Native American term loosely interpreted by Browne and Clarence M. Burton, Detroit’s official historian, to mean “we trade.” (Other interpretations include “we have a good time, we make noise.”)
The first convention was held in May in Cleveland, Ohio. A Constitution was approved, and George Hixson (1916-1918) was elected President, and would be the only President to serve two terms.
On January 19, Kiwanis became “International” with the addition of the Hamilton, Ontario club. The first edition of the Kiwanis Hornet, later the Kiwanis Torch, and finally the Kiwanis magazine, was printed in February.
International Secretary O. Sam Cummings selected a small, two-room office in the Webster Building on LaSalle Street in Chicago’s Loop as the first International Headquarters.
Contracted to organize new clubs and considered one of the founders of Kiwanis, Allen Browne’s for-profit mindset was antithetical to what many Kiwanians wanted their organization to be. At the Birmingham Convention, Kiwanis members voted to buy Browne’s contract for $17,500, thereby severing connections with him. The Kiwanis International Headquarters moved to the Mallers Building on Wabash Avenue in Chicago to accommodate a larger staff of twenty.
Roe Fulkerson, editor of the Kiwanis magazine, coined “We Build” as the official Kiwanis motto.
Kiwanis International held its first convention outside of the United States, in Toronto, Ontario.
Delegates at the Denver, Colorado convention, (known as the Constitutional Convention), adopted the Kiwanis’ six permanent Objects. These are: 1) To give primacy to the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life. 2) To encourage the daily living of the Golden Rule in all human relationships. 3) To promote the adoption and the application of higher social, business and professional standards. 4) To develop, by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive and serviceable citizenship. 5) To provide, through Kiwanis clubs, a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic service and to build better communities. 6) To cooperate in creating and maintaining that sound public opinion and high idealism which make possible the increase of righteousness, justice, patriotism and goodwill. George Sanford Holmes, President of the Kiwanis Club of Denver, wrote the words to the first Kiwanis song, Onward in Kiwanis, for the convention. To accommodate the business of managing over 1,200 clubs, with over 90,000 members, the International Headquarters moved to the Federal Reserve Bank Building at 164 West Jackson Boulevard, in the Chicago Loop.
The first Key Club, a program for high school students, was formed on May 7 at Sacramento High School in California. The Harding Memorial, symbolizing peace and friendship between the United States and Canada, was dedicated on September 16 in Vancouver. President Harding was a Kiwanian, and the memorial was funded entirely through donations.
The International Headquarters moved to the McGraw-Hill Building at 520 North Michigan Avenue on the “Magnificent Mile.”
On January 21, the first “boundary tablet” was placed on the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario. This tablet marker delineated the friendship between the United States and Canada. The first nationwide broadcast of a Kiwanis convention was aired from San Antonio, Texas.
Jay N. Emerson of Pullman, Washington, with his Kiwanis club, purchased a house for State College of Washington students, which offered low-cost room and board. Referred to as the “Circle K House,” this was the unofficial beginning of Circle K International, a Kiwanis program for college students. In April, the Kiwanis Foundation was incorporated.
The International Board approved a charter for the Alpha Chapter of the Circle K Fraternity of the State College of Washington.
International conventions were interrupted by World War II, and the International Council convened to conduct necessary business.
The first annual Key Club Convention was held in Gainesville, Florida.
Regular international conventions resumed in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and broke all previous attendance records with nearly 10,000 attendees. The first issue of the Keynoter, a magazine for Key Club members, was published in May.
The first Circle K club was organized at Carthage College, Illinois, on the basis of a concept of service to campus.
The International Board authorized the granting of charters to Circle K clubs.
Kiwanis created National Kids Day, which would later become Kiwanis Kids Day.
Kiwanis International’s relationship with the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge began. Freedoms Foundation is a non-profit education organization aimed at fostering a greater awareness of and appreciation for a democratic society. The Kiwanis International Board created Key Club Week.
Circle K held its first annual convention at Carthage College in Illinois. A previous convention was held the year before in New York City in conjunction with the Kiwanis International annual convention. This convention was unofficial since the organization had yet to receive official recognition from Kiwanis.
Chicago-area Key Clubs and the Chicago Daily News sponsored a youth rally in May. The Kiwanis International Board officially granted recognition to Circle K in October. Also in October, Kiwanis coordinated the first Farm-City Week. Developed in 1955, National Farm-City Week was an annual event sponsored by Kiwanis International with the purpose of “bringing about better understanding between rural and urban peoples and to increase the knowledge and appreciation of each for our way of life.” City and farm dwellers were able to sign up to exchange places for a day in order to better appreciate life from the other’s perspective.
The first issue of the Circle K magazine was published in January for Circle K members.
Groundbreaking ceremonies and construction began on the site for the new Kiwanis International Headquarters, located at 101 East Erie Street, seventy feet from their previous home.
Kiwanis International moved into its new home in March, with the official ceremony in October. One of the attendees at this ceremony was Harry A. Young, of the Detroit Number One Kiwanis Club, last living founder of Kiwanis.
Delegates in Toronto, Ontario, resolve to favor the establishment of Kiwanis clubs in countries in addition to Canada and the United States. In March, members of eleven service clubs met to discuss administrative procedures, program emphases, and improving the public’s understanding of their values. The Service Club Leaders Conference has been conducted annually since.
In May, the Kiwanis Club of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, received its charter and became the first Kiwanis club organized outside of the United States and Canada.
147 Kiwanians and their wives commenced on the European Mission to experience a “firsthand acquaintance with new European clubs and their settings.”
Kiwanis International celebrated its 50th Anniversary on January 21 in New York City. Delegates from clubs outside of the United States and Canada met in June in Basel, Switzerland, for the first European Conference.
On June 9, Kiwanis International-Europe was formed at the Zurich meeting, and they adopted a constitution, elected officials, and Jean Ladriere became the first KI-E President.
The World Secretariat met for the first time, and continued until 1977, when it was deemed no longer necessary. The World Secretariat was intended to bind similar social clubs together, and facilitate discussions of mutual concerns. The first Major Emphasis Program (MEP), “Operation Drug Alert (ODA), was announced. The first K-family reunion of Key Clubbers, Circle K’ers, and Kiwanians was held, which would become the annual CONOVACT—Conference of Voluntary Action.
In February, the Kiwanis International Board conditionally lifted its male-only restriction, “leaving it as an option for a Circle K club and its sponsoring Kiwanis.” Thirty Kiwanis leaders took part in the 10th Anniversary European Mission.
In April, the Kiwanis Club of Golden K in Raleigh, North Carolina became the first official Golden K club. A Golden K club is part of the Kiwanis International organization, dedicated to serving their community and children. These clubs are primarily made up of retired persons, however it is not limited to them, and members are often able to take on projects during daytime and weekday hours. Delegates to the Atlanta Convention adopted an amendment for a Board seat for a European Federation representative. The first Asia-Pacific Conference (ASPAC) took place in Manila, Philippines. The Kiwanis International Board “officially determined admission of girls to Key Clubs should be allowed where state legislatures defined this as a specific requirement, or where required by local school board action.” Amendments to Key Club’s Constitution and Bylaws completely opened the door to high school girls in 1977. Circle K delegates elected their first African-American President—Gregory Faulkner from Baruch College, City University of New York.
The San Diego Convention’s delegates amended the Constitution and Bylaws to allow for specified representatives from each Canadian district. Kiwanis International and the International Foundation began a long-term relationship with the Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation (HOBY) in which Kiwanis clubs worked with high school principals to encourage and nominate students to attend leadership seminars.
Originally created in 1972, Mexico-U.S. Goodwill Week, was renamed Worldwide Kiwanis Week, and moved to January.
Groundbreaking ceremonies took place in September for the new Kiwanis International Headquarters, located this time at 3636 Woodview Trace, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Kiwanis International completed the move to Indianapolis in August, and has remained in this location since.
The first Kiwanis annual convention held outside of the United States and Canada, met in Vienna, Austria.
Circle K delegates elected their first female International President, Susan E. McClernon, a student at St. Scholastica College in Duluth, Minnesota.
Gender is eliminated as a qualification for Kiwanis membership. The House of Delegates approved “five world regions with guaranteed seats based on percentages of the organization’s total membership.” The first Aktion Club was formed in June in Palatka, Florida. Aktion Club is part of the Kiwanis International organization whose members are adults with disabilities. Their mission is to provide those with disabilities with opportunities to serve their communities and develop life and leadership skills.
Kiwanis International celebrated its 75th Anniversary on January 21 in Detroit, Michigan. In October, the first meeting of the Priority One Advisory Council took place in Washington, D.C. The Priority One Advisory Council consists of more than thirty child-related organizations that advise Kiwanis International on the Young Children: Priority One initiative, and help Kiwanis obtain local partners for collaborative efforts.
Key Club members elected their first female International President, Michelle McMillen.
Kiwanis International announces its plan to “remove the scourge of IDD (iodine deficiency disorders) from the Earth.”
Kiwanis International launched its first website at, which continues at this site today. Ian Perdriau of the Melbourne, Victoria, club became the first non-North American International President.
Eyjolfur “Eddie” Sigurdsson, from the Reykjavik-Hekla, Iceland club, became the first European International President.
Key Club members elected their first African-American International President, Craig Melvin.
Walter G. Sellers from Xenia, Ohio became Kiwanis International’s first African-American International President. Circle K elected their first International President from outside North America, Hugh Simmonds, from Jamaica.
The K-Kids Club, for elementary schoolchildren, was officially recognized. (The first, unofficial K-Kids Club formed in North Lauderdale, Florida, in 1990.)
The “Children of the World” garden was unveiled in April at the International office in Indianapolis.
Juan F. Torres Jr., M.D. of Antipolo, Philippines, became the first Asian International President. Kiwanis International-European Federation elected the first woman to the federation’s highest post, President Grete Hvardal of Byrgin, Norway.
In April, the first editions of what would become the Builders Bloc, and K-Kidzone, were published. The Keynoter V 2.0 and the Circle Kzine debut in September as Kiwanis first Internet-delivered e-zines.
International Convention delegates voted to adopt “Serving the Children of the World” as the new official motto. In July, Kiwanis officially introduced Kiwanis Connected, an online periodical published as a compliment to the printed Kiwanis magazine.
Kiwanis International celebrates its 100th Anniversary.


153 Cubic Feet (197 boxes, 343 video cassettes)


Kiwanis International, briefly called the Supreme Lodge Benevolent Order Brothers, was officially chartered in 1915 as a club for businessmen that also had social and commercial benefits. That original intent evolved quickly into a club for businessmen who wanted to improve their communities, hence the 1920 motto “we build.” Today, Kiwanis International is a global organization, with numerous projects dedicated primarily to their current motto of “serving the children of the world.” Through community-based, volunteer efforts, Kiwanians work toward improving the lives of children worldwide through projects such as The Worldwide Service Project for Iodine Deficiency Disorder, Young Children: Priority One, and their current global campaign, The Eliminate Project: Kiwanis eliminating maternal/neonatal tetanus. Kiwanis International membership includes clubs for ages six through adults, with approximately 600,000 total active members.

This collection contains minutes, correspondence, newsletters, supply catalogs, publications, scrapbooks, photographs, negatives, slides, and audio/visual materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Kiwanis International, Indianapolis, IN, July 2010 A2010/11-001; August 2013 A2013/14-004; November 2013 A2013/14-009; March 2015 A2014/15-045; November 2015 A2015/16-011.

Related Materials

Related material providing an example of the organization, work, and internal functioning of a large and long-standing Kiwanis club may be found in the following collections in this repository: Indianapolis Downtown Kiwanis Club Records.

Arnold, Oren. The Sacred Ninety Minutes. New Orleans: Portals Press, 1975.

Arnold, Oren. The Widening Path; An Interpretive Record of Kiwanis. Chicago: Kiwanis International, 1949.

Hapgood, L. A. Dimensions of Service: The Kiwanis Story. Indianapolis: Kiwanis International, 1989.

Hapgood, L. A. The Men Who Wear the K: The Story of Kiwanis. Chicago: Kiwanis International, 1981.

Kiwanis International. The History of Kiwanis. Chicago: Kiwanis International, 1946.

Moss, John H. and Merton S. Heiss. We Build, The Story of Kiwanis. Chicago: Kiwanis International, 1942.


  • Jonak, Chuck. The Kiwanis Legacy: 1915-2004. Indianapolis: Kiwanis International, 2004


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Kiwanis International Records, 1914-2015
Brenda Burk and Debra Brookhart
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Repository Details

Part of the Philanthropic Studies Archives Repository

IUPUI University Library
755 W. Michigan St.
Room 0133
Indianapolis IN 46202 USA