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.
Our Proud History
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 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 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 Americas Olympic athletes.
1985 The U.S. Jaycees 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.
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
2004 Bylaw change established membership age as 18 through 40.
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