The History of Lionism
A Chicago businessman named Melvin Jones wanted to expand the horizons of local business
clubs from pure business to concerns for the community and the world.
His idea was shared by fellow members of his group, the Business Circle of
Chicago, and was explored with similar organizations from around the United States of
America. At an organizational meeting held at a local hotel on June 7, 1917. The
"Association of Lions Clubs" was voted into existence. A national convention was
then called in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. in October 1917.
At the national convention, 36 delegates representing 22 business clubs
from 9 States approved the "Lions Clubs" designation. Dr. William P. Woods of
Indiana, USA became the first President. The guiding force and founder, Melvin Jones,
became the Secretary. The first convention also began to define what Lionism was to
Community leaders soon began to organize Clubs throughout USA. The
Association became "international" with the formation of a Club in 1920 in
Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Clubs were then formed in other countries such as Mexico, Cuba,
Panama, Columbia, Sweden, Switzerland, and France. By 1952, the first Club in Japan was
chartered. Since then, the Association has become fully global.
In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions international convention in Cedar Point, Ohio,
USA. She challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." From this time, Lions clubs have been actively involved in service to the blind and visually impaired.
As of 2011, Lions Clubs International has over 1.35 million
members in 46,000 clubs in 207 Countries and their geographical areas.