By the age of 18, Henry Giessenbier Jr. formed the Herculaneum Dance Club, a social outlet for the community’s youth. Unknown at the time, Giessenbier was laying the foundation for what would become a global movement.
On October 13, 1915, the first JCI Movement was founded when 32 men joined to form the Young Men’s Progressive Association (YMPCA) at the Mission Inn located in their hometown of St. Louis, USA.
1917 St. Louis Chamber of Commerce Emblem
The Young Men’s Civic Progressive Association members received acknowledgement from the broader community, however on November 30, 1915 official recognition of the organization was granted after enrolling as a member of the Mayor’s Conference of Civic Organizations.
One year later, the YMPCA became known as the Junior Citizens and soon the Junior Chamber of Commerce, after affiliating with the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.
1920 The First National Convention
In June 1920, with 41 cities present, the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce held their first official convention, where their first constitution was adopted and the first President, Henry Giessenbier Jr., was elected. Giessenbier closed the ceremony with his expressed goals for the organization: “We have definitely launched a great institution into the world of progress. Let us hope that from this institution will emerge citizens of loftier ideals, higher privileges, greater opportunities, purer patriotism, broader ideas of service and greater capacity for happiness.” — Founder, Henry Giessenbier, Jr.
1926 Aviation Expansion and Voting Participation
In 1926, after gaining Charles A. Lindbergh, commercial aviation pioneer, as a member, the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce pursued to expand aviation throughout the United States by working to establish and promote airport construction, encourage air mail usage and mark towns for easy identification from the air. That same year, the Get Out the Vote campaign was initiated in which the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce became the first national organization to conduct a systematic campaign to educate citizens of their civic duty to vote. As a result, 12 million more individuals voted in the 1928 election than in 1924.
1951 JCI Creed Outlines Fundamental Values
Written by C. William Brownfield, the JCI Creed, a six-line statement of the beliefs and principles of the JCI Movement, was officially adopted in 1948 uniting individual members across the world.
That faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life;
That the brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations;
That economic justice can best be won by free men through free enterprise;
That government should be of laws rather than of men;
That earth's great treasure lies in human personality;
And that service to humanity is the best work of life.
1954 Operation Brotherhood
Exemplifying the value of brotherhood, JCI’s first international campaign launched in 1954. Operation Brotherhood was developed through collaborating with the United Nations to support refugees fleeing communism in Vietnam. The campaign included large-scale fundraising efforts that raised US $1 million, assisted more than 730,000 individuals through health and wellness programs and created more than 350 community living spaces for refugees.
1981 JCI and the United Nations
In 1954, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted JCI Special Consultative status, officially defining the supportive relationship between JCI and the UN. In the photo above,
1981 JCI President Gary Nagao visited with the UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim at the United Nations to discuss the long-standing partnership between the two organizations.