The first Rotary Club was founded in 1905 by Chicago attorney, Paul A. Harris, as a service organization where professionals from diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful friendships. Throughout the years, Rotary has expanded to six continents and Rotarians channel their commitment to service through five Avenues of Service: Club Service, Vocational Service, Community Service, International Service and Youth Service. The Wilmington Rotary Club, with 41 charter members, was established in 1915, the second club in North Carolina. In 2002, longtime member and club historian, Herman Blizzard, donated the club’s archive to Randall Library’s Special Collections at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. UNCW has since functioned as the Wilmington Rotary Club’s main repository. Of significance in the Herman Blizzard Rotary Archive is a large collection Rotary memorabilia, artifacts and club banners. Through the generosity of the Wilmington Rotary Club, Special Collections staff and students are working to digitize and provide access to this unique collection.
Traditionally, Rotarians travelling to other states and countries present their club banner to the clubs that they are visiting and receive the banner of the local club in exchange. These banners represent the Rotary Club visually and act as an expression of friendship between clubs. The Wilmington Rotary Club’s collection of banners exceeds 600 and counting!