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History of the US Jaycees

The U.S. Junior Chamber founder Henry Giessenbier’s vision of providing young people with leadership through community service can be broken down into four Areas of Opportunity: Business, Individual, Community, and International.

Business: embodying the line of the Jaycee Creed, which states “Economic justice can best be won by free men through free enterprise,” this area provides an opportunity for individual members to contribute to the development and enhancement of the economic infrastructure, prosperity, and well-being for their community as well as all nations.

Individual: embodying the line of the Jaycee Creed which states “Earth’s great treasure lies in human personality,” this area provides an opportunity for individual members to realize their personal potential through training programs.

Community: embodying the line of the Jaycee Creed which states “Service to humanity is the best work of life,” this area develops the sensitivity of individual members to societal problems and community dynamics by providing experience in community problem solving.

International: embodying the line of the Jaycee Creed which states “That the brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations,” this area provides an opportunity for individual members to contribute to the development of goodwill, understanding, and cooperation among all peoples.

The Junior Chamber organization is: “a constructive action organization of young persons who devote a portion of their time to community service in the public interest, developing young persons as leaders in their communities.” (Taken from The U.S. Junior Chamber Bylaws Manual.)

The purpose of the Junior Chamber is: “to promote and foster the growth and development of young persons’ civic organizations in the United States, designed to inculcate (to teach and impress upon) in the individual membership of such organization a spirit of genuine Americanism and civic interest, and…to provide them with opportunity for personal development and achievement and an avenue for intelligent participation…in the affairs of the community, state, and nation, and to develop true friendship and understanding among young persons of all nations.” (Taken from The U.S. Junior Chamber Bylaws Manual.)

Simply put, the purpose of the local chapter is to become a force for good in the community, determining community needs and providing solutions by planning and facilitating community service projects. In the act of serving, members receive hands-on experience, which translates to the enhancement of personal growth and the development of valuable leadership skills. This is the total Junior Chamber Concept.

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 USJC 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 USJC.
  • 1937 – Massachusetts Jaycees founded.
  • 1937 – Programs begun at state and national level to inform public of need for diagnosis and treatment of venereal disease.
  • 1938 – Future Magazine established. USJC 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 – USJC endorsed the principle of a military draft.
  • 1944 – Junior Chamber International (JCI) formed at Pan American Congress in Mexico City.
  • 1946 – USJC 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 – Foxboro Jaycees of Massachusetts founded January 18, 1961
  • 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.Gun Safety/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, Minnesota.
  • 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 Gun Safety/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. Jay
    cees 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 USJC. 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.
  • 2001 – Name changes to The United States Junior Chamber

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, USJC Historian

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