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 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.
THE BIRTH OF JUNIOR CHAMBER
The very next year, 1916, saw another change of name as the YMPCA became Junior Citizens, commonly called JCs, 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.
U.S. Junior Chamber History
Henry “Hy” 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, and so he formed the founding ideals of the U.S. Junior Chamber.
1920 – The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (USJCC) was formed in St. Louis, Missouri, with 3,000 members.
1923 – Get Out The Vote was the first Jaycee program to receive national endorsement.
1925 – Beginning of national projects Know America First and Fire Prevention. Birth of EXPANSION, the first USJCC national magazine.
1926 – Development of aviation adopted as national project.
1927 – Jaycee Charles A. Lindbergh made the first solo flight between New York and Paris. Jaycees worked with Lindbergh to develop the U.S. Air Mail Service.
1931 – Distinguished Service Awards program established at the chapter level.
1935 – Death of founder Henry Giessenbier.
1936 – National Wildlife Federation established with guidance of USJCC.
1937 – Programs begun at state and national level to inform public of need for diagnosis and treatment of venereal disease.
1938 – Future Magazine established. USJCC name Ten Outstanding Young Men for the first time.
1939 – Safety with Light campaign gained national attention as thousands of street lights were donated to communities by Jaycees.
1940 – USJCC endorsed the principle of a military draft.
1941 – The Wilmington Junior Chamber of Commerce is Charter in March
1944 – Junior Chamber International (JCI) formed at Pan American Congress in Mexico City.
1946 – USJCC established permanent headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Junior Golf program begun.
1947 – Official approval of Jaycee as synonym of organization. Adoption of Jaycee Creed.
1951 – War Memorial Headquarters in Tulsa dedicated. At urging of Andy Mungenast, the reference to “Faith in God” was added to the Jaycee Creed.
1953 – Jaycees sponsored stops on Professional Golfers’ Association tour for first time at
Greensboro, North Carolina, and Hartford, Connecticut.
1954 – First Outstanding Young Farmer and Junior Tennis programs held.
1959 – Jaycees supported statehood for Alaska. Hawaii gained statehood the following year due to Jaycee efforts.
1961 – First Governmental Affairs Leadership Seminar conducted.
1962 – Jaycees urge adoption of Uniform Vehicle Code, with emphasis on state action resulting in adoption nationally.
1963 – Clean Water Program launched to improve water quality in communities across America.
Shooting Education adopted as a national program.
1964 – Project Concern adopted as International Relations activity. Program raised money and
equipment for clinics providing medical care to Chinese refugees in Hong Kong.
1965 – Jaycees presented first annual National Award of Distinction from National Clean Up-Paint Up-Fix Up Bureau.
1966 – Name of organization officially changed to U.S. Jaycees.
1970 – Do Something campaign sparked national interest in volunteerism. Jaycees’ cooperation with other service organizations resulted in the founding of the National Center for Voluntary Action.
1971 – More than 3,000,000 volunteer hours were provided by Jaycees to help administer seven million doses of rubella measles vaccine.
1972 – Jaycees undertook model Operation Identification program to combat burglaries and aid crime prevention efforts. Five million stickers were distributed nationally through Operation Red Ball to reduce fire fatalities. Bylaw change admitted 18-year-olds as regular members.
1973 – The United States Jaycees’ Center for Improved Child Nutrition opened in Bloomington,
1977 – Operation Threshold, a program dedicated to reducing alcohol abuse, reached more than 23 million Americans. Muscular Dystrophy Fund Raising adopted as national program.
1980 – Daisy/U.S. Jaycees Shooting Education program honored with National Safety Council Award for Youth Activities.
1982 – Healthy American Fitness Leaders adopted as national program.
1984 – Bylaw change admitted women as full and regular members. Sign Up America campaign
collected 1.5 million signatures supporting America’s Olympic athletes.
1985 – The U.S. Jaycees endorsed Campaign for Liberty to encourage public support for restoration of Statue of Liberty. St. Jude Fundraising adopted as national program.
1986 – First woman honored by Congress of Ten Outstanding Young Americans.
1987 – Bylaw change established membership age as 21 through 39. Name of U.S. Jaycees’ official publication changed to JAYCEES MAGAZINE.
1990 – Name of organization officially changed back to The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce.
1992 – National Wake Up America program urged communities to get involved in politics by coordinating voter registration campaigns, hosting debates, and embracing pertinent community issues. Jaycees responded to devastating hurricanes in the southeast with national support.
1993 – GreenWorks! environmental education and community action program adopted by USJCC. Jaycees Against Youth Smoking (JAYS) adopted as national program. Junior Chamber members were instrumental in bringing relief to the flood-stricken Midwest.
1994 – Junior Chamber Mission Inn Foundation created to build a nationwide network of care facilities for children and adolescents affected by HIV/AIDS.
1995 – The Jaycee Alliance was formed as a non-partisan, educational, grassroots governmental advocacy organization to give young Americans a voice in government. The Jaycee KidCare I.D. Program was organized to provide identification to aid in the recovery of missing children.
1996 – The Jaycees Wake Up America Tour bus began a journey through the 48 contiguous states promoting programs and membership. Social Security Reform Town Hall Meetings program initiated.
1997 – Junior Chamber Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Advancement begun — a program designed to train young entrepreneurs and improve local economies.
1998 – Junior Chamber Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Advancement name changed to Junior Chamber Center for Business Advancement. Two new programs, National Business Network and Virtual Networking, added to encourage Junior Chamber members to business network via the Internet both nationally and internationally.
1999 – JAYS program reintroduced as an educational program that informs children about the dangers of smoking. Value Investing and Career Advancement added to the Junior Chamber Center for Business Advancement.
2000 – First female elected National President. Junior Chamber Center for Business Advancement develops web-based video seminar training.
For more insight on how the Junior Chamber has affected the lives of its members, the following book is recommended: A Legacy of Leadership, by John W. Clark, USJCC Historian. This book can be obtained by contacting The Junior Chamber Products Department. You can e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them at www.juniorchamber.org