HISTORY

Origins


Early Development

Through contact with the Sacramento Key Club and Kiwanis Club, other Kiwanis groups soon became interested in the activity and sponsored similar organizations in their own communities. One source of expansion during these early years came through high school principals and other educators. The school men responsible for the Sacramento Key Club talked of it with their colleagues and wrote of its activities in various articles. This resulted in many requests for information being sent to the Sacramento Kiwanis club concerning the Key Club. Such information was sent out and principals in various parts of the country were responsible for organizing similar groups in their own schools with the help of their local Kiwanis clubs. Practically all Key Club expansion which took place during the next fifteen years was accomplished in this way. By that time fifty clubs were functioning in California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington. In 1939 the first plan for combining individual local Key Clubs into federated groups was developed in Florida. With Kiwanis counsel, a convention of existing clubs was held, a state association formed, and officers elected. The purpose of the State Association was to promote an exchange of ideas concerning the Key Club activity and to expand the number of Key Clubs. Conventions were held each succeeding year, and when the International Constitution and Bylaws were adopted in 1946, the Florida Association became the first Key Club district.

Florida was instrumental also in promoting the formation of an International Association of Key Clubs to perform for the entire country what the Florida Association had done for Key Clubs in that state. In 1943, at the invitation of the Florida boys, Key Clubbers from clubs in Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee were in attendance at the annual convention of the State Association held in Sanford. The representatives voted to form an International Association of Key Clubs and elected Malcolm Lewis of West Palm Beach, Florida, as first President.

Three formative years followed, during which the outlines of the present Key Club International organization were drawn. Lewis served one year and was followed in office by Eddie Richardson of Ft. Lauderdale, and Roger Keller of New Orleans. Keller presided over the third annual convention in New Orleans on April 27, 1946, at which time delegates from all parts of the country approved the Constitution and Bylaws, officially launching Key Club International.

During these years of early growth and increasing organization, Kiwanis International had not been idle. The Key Club was early recognized as a local club project, and no attempt was made to control its overall organization. In 1942 the Kiwanis International Board of Trustees recommended the movement to all clubs and directed the Boys and Girls Work committee to undertake the sponsorship of these clubs as an activity for students of high school age. In 1944 a special Kiwanis International Committee on Sponsored Youth Organizations was formed to look after Key Club work. Finally, in 1946, a separate Key Club Department was created in the International Office of Kiwanis International to serve as a clearing house for Key Club information, to keep the records and handle correspondence of the organization, to provide effective liaison between Key Clubs and Kiwanis, and to conduct the annual International conventions. Now the Key Club Department also handles a monthly publication--KEYNOTER--which was first issued in May 1946. The Kiwanis International Committee on Key Clubs was formed on January 1, 1949.


Present Status

Since May of 1925, Key Club continues to grow rapidly. There are now clubs located throughout North America and the Caribbean area. In these groups, thousands of students are receiving training in leadership and service. The Key Club District organization is patterned after the original Florida District and its parent Kiwanis districts. These organizations hold their own annual conventions for fellowship, to coordinate the efforts of individual clubs, to exchange ideas on Key Clubbing, and to recognize outstanding service of clubs or individual with appropriate awards.

Key Club is truly an "International" organization. In 1946 the first club was built in Canada, and since that time many more have been added. Key Clubs have also been formed in the Caribbean and future growth is promising. Every year, led by the international officers, two hundred or more new Key Clubs are added to this fast growing organization, but emphasis is on permanent, active clubs, rather than on mere numbers as such. With this criterion as a guide, Key Clubs can expect a steady, healthy growth for many years to come.