1910 – At the first Rotary Convention in Chicago, some delegates make the first attempt at official sanction of “women’s auxiliaries.” It is rejected overwhelmingly.

1912 –Despite the rejection of women as members and the ratification of women only rotary clubs, the Minneapolis Women's Rotary was incorporated in 1912 as a stand-alone, women-only, rotary club that continues to this date. In 1912, the board of directors of the Belfast, Northern Ireland club discussed the advisability of electing women to membership or allowing them to attend weekly luncheons. The club records of that period indicate the board considered it undesirable to elect women to membership or have them at the weekly luncheons. In that year, also, Ida Buell of the Duluth women’s club spoke to the 1912 Duluth Convention seeking support for women’s clubs.  The Convention discussed the admission of women and rejected the idea.

1914 – Wives of Rotarians receive the title, “Rotary Ann’s,” named for the wives of San Francisco and Philadelphia Club presidents that year, Ann Brunnier and Ann Gundaker.

1914-15 – Rotary International Executive Committee approves the policy to discourage the formation of Women's Rotary Clubs.

1915 – The Rotary Club of St. Paul, Minnesota makes opera singer Florence MacBeth an honorary member. This is one of many “unofficial” memberships clubs have given to women over the decades.

1915-16 – Rotary International Board of Directors disapproves the formation of Women's Auxiliary Rotary or Women's Independent Rotary Clubs using the Rotary name; it has no objection to the spirit of the organization carried under some other name.

1916-17 – R.I. Board of Directors agreed that there is no objection to the formation of an auxiliary composed of wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters of Rotarians to be known as the Ladies' Auxiliary of the ——- Rotary Club. (In granting this approval the board had before it a definite plan with regard to an Auxiliary and its activities in the form of a letter signed by the wife of a Rotarian.)

1921 – The Providence, Rhode Island Club makes Blanche Dayne Cressy the wife of Vaudevillian Will Cressy an honorary Rotarian, claiming her to be “the only Woman Rotarian of her day.”

May 24, 1921 – Mrs. Alwilda Harvey, wife of Chicago Club President, brings fifty-nine Rotary wives together at a luncheon. She becomes the founder and president of a new organization called Women of Rotary. Said Mrs. Harvey, “Women through the ages have always practiced “Service Above Self;” now we have the opportunity to put the slogan into practice in serving our community.”

June 13, 1921 – At the International convention in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rotary releases a supplement to the 1920 Proceedings for all members, called the “Manual of Procedures.’ It includes prohibitions on women as members of rotary, or women’s clubs that use the Rotary name. It permits a “Ladies Auxiliary” for Rotary Clubs. (see page xx) The 1921 Convention in Edinburgh, Scotland produced the Standard Club Constitution in which Article 2, Section III stated “A Rotary Club shall be comprised of men . . .”

November 15, 1923 – The Manchester, England Club produces an invitation for Rotary wives to discuss, “Proposed formation of a Ladies rotary club in Manchester.” The idea of a women’s Rotary Club is dropped immediately, but the wives adopt the title of Inner Wheel.

November 1928 – Oklahoma City Club No. 29 originates the Rotary Ann auxiliary organization.

1946 – Jean Harris, wife of Rotary founder Paul Harris, becomes the first Honorary Member of the Inner Wheel Club of Edinburgh, Scotland.

1949 – The Rotary Foundation admits women as Ambassadorial Scholarship recipients.

June 1949 – R.I. convention plenary speaker is actress Madeleine Carroll, impassioned in support of the world’s children. She is one of the first women to speak at an R.I. convention. (Others include blind and deaf author, Helen Keller in 1957, and author, Pearl Buck in 1959)

June 1950 – The Rotary Club of Ahmedabad, India proposes an Enactment to the International Convention in Detroit that would delete the word “male” from Article III of the Standard Club Constitution. It is overwhelmingly rejected.

June 1964 – The agenda of the Council meeting at the RI Convention in Toronto contains an enactment for the admission of women to Rotary clubs. Convention delegates vote that it be withdrawn.

January 1972 – The Rotary Club of Upper Manhattan, New York, proposes an Enactment to the Council of Legislation to admit women to Rotary clubs. After laughter and discussion, it is rejected.

January 1977 – Four enactments are proposed to the Council on Legislation that would essentially permit women members into Rotary. The proposal again by Upper Manhattan, which prohibits membership restrictions based on sex, is rejected. The other three are subsequently withdrawn. The Rotary Club of Forotaleza, Ceara, Brazil, proposes to allow women to become honorary members. It is also rejected.

June 1, 1977 – The Rotary Club of Duarte, CA holds its 25th Anniversary Celebration and introduces three women as new members: Mary Lou Elliott, Donna Bogart and Rosemary Freitag.

February 1978 – Rotary International provisionally revokes the charter of the Duarte club. The club requests a hearing. The Board tells the Duarte club that it must remove women members. The club refuses.

March 27, 1978 – Rotary International board of Directors officially revokes the Charter of the Duarte club. Durate decides to continue as a quasi-Rotary club. They place an X over the Rotary insignia, make new pins, and call the club: The EX-Rotary Club of Duarte.

June 1978 – The Rotary Club of Duarte, CA files suit in Los Angeles Superior Court.

February 1983 – The Duarte case finally goes to trial in California. The State Judge refuses to reinstate the club. The Duarte Club immediately appeals the decision.

March 17, 1986 – The California State Appeals Court reverses the earlier decision. Rotary International immediately appeals the case to the California Supreme Court, who refuses to hear the case. RI requires all Rotary clubs to adhere to the constitutional prohibition against female membership, promising that they will make a study of club attitudes worldwide reviewing legislation at the earliest possible time, the 1989 Council on Legislation.

1986 – Rotary International appeals the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

July 31, 1986 – The Seattle-International District Club (a two-year old club) unanimously votes to admit women.

September 4, 1986 – The Seattle-International District Club secretly admits 15 women so they won’t lose their charter.

September 15, 1986 – The Seattle-International District Club files a lawsuit that seeks an injunction against Rotary International and formally announces the admission of 15 women.

January 1987 – The Seattle-International District Club files an Amicus brief in the Duarte case.

February 1987 – Reinstated Duarte Club President-Elect, Sylvia Whitlock attends a President Elect Training Seminar (PETS), the only woman with over 300 men. “I did not feel other than welcome!”

May 4, 1987 – The U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals of California affirms the 1986 ruling of the Court of Appeals of California in a 7 – 0 opinion.

July 1, 1987 –Sylvia Whitlock begins her term as the first official woman President of a Rotary Club.

1988 – The Rotary International Board recognizes the right of Rotary clubs in Canada to admit women.

June 1988 – Duarte President, Sylvia Whitlock, and Seattle-International District President-Elect, Karilyn van Soest, attend the International Convention in Philadelphia.

January 1989 – Council on Legislation votes to change the Constitution and Bylaws of Rotary to admit women.

July 1, 1989 – Council on Legislation changes take effect, and women are officially welcomed into Rotary.

July 1, 1995 – Eight women take office as District Governors.

July 1, 1997 – PDG Gilda Chirafisi, District 7230, begins second term as woman club president of the RC of Riverdale, NY, the first woman in RI to serve as president twice.

January 1998 – PDG Virginia B. Nordby becomes the first woman delegate to the Council on Legislation that meets in New Delhi, India. 

June 1998 – Rotary International presents its highest honor, the Rotary Award for World Understanding (RAWU), to Dr. Catherine Hamlin.

July 1, 2001 – As Sylvia Whitlock begins her second term as President (the second woman in Rotary International to serve as President twice), the Rotary Club of Duarte becomes known as “the mouse that roared.”

July 1, 2005 – Carolyn Jones, Past District Governor from Alaska becomes the first woman trustee of the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

2008 – Catherine Noyer-Riveau, (PHYSICIAN, Gynecology) of the Rotary Club of Paris becomes the first female Rotary International Director.

2009 – There are 187,967 female Rotarians worldwide. Sixty-three serve as district governors.

 (Accumulated by Linda Parker Hamilton, Historian for the Rotary Club of Oakland, the third oldest in the world from RGHF, The Rotarian, speeches by Oakland Rotarians Iris Brody Lopez and Jack McAboy, and other sources)