US Jaycee History

THE BIRTH OF JUNIOR CHAMBER

The origin of Junior Chamber can be traced as far back as 1910 to the city of St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States of America. A young man named Henry “Hy” Giessenbier and his friends formed the Herculaneum Dance Club with the main objective being the preservation of conservative dance styles.

Five years later, in 1915, Colonel H.N. Morgan, a prominent St. Louis citizen, inspired the members of the dance club to become more involved in civic issues. Giessenbier and 32 other young men formed the Young Men’s Progressive Civic Association (YMPCA) on October 13, 1915. This organization grew to a membership of 750 in less than five months.

Giessenbier visualized an organization that would allow young men to develop their business skills and reputations in the community. In his era, most young men were out of school and working by the age of 15. Their first jobs were most likely the jobs they held throughout their lives. With luck and hard work, some might reach executive positions by their forties. Giessenbier felt that young men were not receiving the opportunities necessary to develop their skills at a younger age, thus depriving our nation of an important resource. Providing those opportunities formed the founding ideals of the U.S. Junior Chamber.

THE BIRTH OF JUNIOR CHAMBER

The very next year, 1916, saw another change of name as the YMPCA became Junior Citizens, commonly calledJCs, which later became Jaycees. The year 1918 marked another change as the JCs were affiliated with the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce and officially became the St. Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce.

After WWI, Giessenbier contacted other cities in the United States with similar young businessmen’s groups, and, subsequently, 29 clubs from around the nation formed the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. Henry Giessenbier was elected the first President of the national organization.

CROSSING THE ATLANTIC

The international chapter of the organization began in 1923 with the Winnipeg Board of Trade’s becoming the first Junior Chamber outside the United States. By 1928 the idea of an international body crossed the Atlantic Ocean to England.

In 1940 a resolution was passed by the United States Junior Chamber approving a program to further mutual interests among countries in Central and South America. This lead to the establishment of Junior Chambers in Mexico City, Guatemala City, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama City in 1943.

The realization of Junior Chamber International had begun. In 1944 the first international conference was held in Mexico City. Raul Garcia Vidal of Mexico was elected the first President. The countries which formed Junior Chamber International were: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the United States of America.

THE FIRST WORLD CONGRESS

Two years later, in February of 1946, the first World Congress was held in Panama City. This congress was attended by 44 delegates from 16 different countries. The international organization was formally constituted, a temporary constitution was approved, and the word “Commerce” was omitted from the official name.

Erasmo Chambonnet of Panama was elected the second JCI President at that Congress, and Australia and Canada were officially affiliated.

In 1948 the JCI Creed was officially adopted at the IV JCI World Congress in Rio de Janeiro, and in 1952 a permanent Secretariat was established. In 1972 the name was changed to Jaycees International; however, in 1988 the name was changed back to Junior Chamber International.