History of Jaycees

Founder Henry Giessenbier founded the Jaycees in 1920, with 3,000 members, in St. Louis, Missouri. It was Henry’s vision to provide young people with opportunities which they had little or no access to otherwise attain. He believed that young people could change the world. He was right. 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. His theory was simple – to offer leadership opportunities to young people, giving them hands – on experience through serving the community. That concept has never wavered.

Timeline of Jaycees Nationwide

1892    June 26—Birth of Henry Giessenbier Jr.

1910    September 22—Herculaneum Dance Club formed by Giessenbier

1914    Federation of Dancing Clubs formed by Giessenbier

1915    October 13—Young Men’s Progressive Civic Association founded by Giessenbier

1916    August 24—YMPCA changes its name to St. Louis Junior Citizens, marking first time the term “J.C” is employed

1918    April 11—Junior Citizens changes name to Junior Chamber of Commerce

1920    January 21—The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce forms in St. Louis, Missouri, with 3000 members

            June 17-19—First national convention held in St. Louis; Giessenbier elected first president.

1922    January 20—First presentation of Distinguished Service Award

1923    Get Out the Vote is first Jaycee program to receive national endorsement

1924    Missouri becomes first state member of USJCC

1925    Beginnings of national projects Know America First and Fire Prevention

            Expansion authorized as first USJCC magazine

1926    Development of aviation adopted as national project

1927    Jaycee Charles A. Lindbergh makes first solo flight between New York and Paris

            Jaycees work with Lindbergh to develop the U.S. Air Mail Service

            Harry S. Krusz hired as first full-time executive secretary

1929    May 12-17—First National Junior Chamber of Commerce Week

            September—Young Executive Magazine replaces Expansion

            September 16—USJCC becomes incorporated

1930    Jaycee shield designed by Durward Howes

1931    Distinguished Service Awards program established on chapter level

1934    First sponsored exhibits and first parade at national convention

1935    Efforts to develop official relationship with Chamber of Commerce of the US end

            November 7—Death of Henry Giessenbier Jr. at age 43

1936    National Wildlife Federation established with guidance of USJCC

1937    Venereal disease prevention programs for the public launched on state and national levels by Jaycees

1938    May 1—New constitution and bylaws and Ohio Plan implemented

            September—Future replaces Young Executive as national magazine

1939    First Ten Outstanding Young Men of America winners announced

            Safety with Light campaign gains national attention as thousands of street lights are donated to communities by Jaycees

1940    USJCC endorses the principle of a military draft

1944    December 11—Junior Chamber International organized in Mexico City

1946    Junior Golf program begins

1947    Official approval of “Jaycee” as synonym of organization

            July 3—Headquarters moves from Chicago to Tulsa

            September—Bill Brownfield’s Jaycee Creed officially adopted by USJCC

1950    March—“Faith in God” line added to Jaycee Creed

            July 10—War Memorial Headquarters groundbreaking in Tulsa

1951    August 4—Dedication ceremonies for War Memorial Headquarters

1953    Jaycees sponsor stops on Professional Golfers’ Association tour for first time in Greensboro, NC, and Hartford, CT

1954    First Outstanding Young Farmer and Junior Tennis programs

1959    Jaycees support statehood for Alaska

1960    Hawaii granted statehood due to Jaycee efforts

1961    First Governmental Affairs Leadership Seminar

1962    Jaycees tackle Uniform Vehicle Code, resulting on adoption of national level

1963    Clean Water Program launched in communities across America

            Shooting Education adopted as national program

1964    Project Concern raises 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

            June 23—Name of organization officially changed to the U.S. Jaycees

            June 24—Bylaw change requires individual members also to be members of Junior Chamber International

1970    USJCC Do Something campaign sparks national interest in volunteerism

1971    Jaycees provide more than 3,000,000 volunteer hours to help administer 7 million doses of rubella measles vaccine

1972    Jaycees undertake model Operation Identification program to combat burglaries and aid crime prevention efforts

            Five million stickers distributed nationally through Operation Red Ball to reduce fire fatalities

            June 20—Minimum age for membership lowered to 18

1973    The United States Jaycees’ Center for Improved Child Nutrition opens in Bloomington, MN

1977    Operation Threshold, a program dedicated to reducing alcohol abuse, reaches 23 million Americans

            Muscular Dystrophy Fundraising adopted as a national program

1978    January 14—Dedication of archives at War Memorial Headquarters

1980    Daisy/US Jaycees Shooting Education program honored with National Safety Council Award for Youth Activities

1982    Healthy American Fitness Leaders awards adopted as national program

1984    Sign Up America campaign collects 1.5 million signatures supporting American’s Olympic athletes

            August 16—Bylaw change admits women as full and regular members

1985    The U.S. Jaycees endorse Campaign for Liberty to encourage public support for restoration of Statue of Liberty

            St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Fundraising adopted as national program

1986    First women honored at Congress of Ten Outstanding Young Americans

1987    Jaycees Magazine replaces Future

            June 17—Membership age changes to 21 through 39

1990    June-Name of organization officially changes back to The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce

1992    National Wake Up, America! Program urges communities to get involved in government and issues

            Jaycees respond to devastating hurricanes in the Southeast with massive national support

1993    Junior Chamber members instrumental in bringing relief to flood-stricken Midwest

            Green Works! Environmental education and community action program adopted by USJCC

1994 – Jaycees Against Youth Smoking adopted as national program

Junior Chamber Mission Inn adopted as national program to support children and adolescents affected by AIDS

The Jaycee Alliance formed to be “America’s voice for young people”

1995 – A Legacy of Leadership is published, celebrating The U.S. Junior Chamber’s 75-year history

2000 – First female-elected National President. Junior Chamber Center for Business Advancement develops web-based video seminar training.

2001 – Name changes to The United States Junior Chamber

2004 – Bylaw change established membership age as 18 through 40.