Lion History

History of the Lions Clubs International

Dr. William P. Woods of Evansville, Indiana began forming Lions Clubs in 1915 for community service. By 1917, the International Association of Lions Clubs consisted of at least 27 clubs in 9 states.  Around this same time a young businessman from Chicago, named Melvin Jones, became interested in serving humanitarian needs. Jones called organizational meetings at which Dr. Woods attended and various clubs were consolidated into the International Association of Lions Clubs.  The first official (annual) convention was held in Dallas, Texas, on October 8, 1917 where twenty-four Lions Clubs were represented and adopted the name, "The International Association of Lions Clubs," and Dr. Woods was elected as the organization’s first President. Melvin Jones was elected Secretary-Treasurer.  In 1919 in an argument between the induction of women between Jones and Wood, Jones won out and women would not be admitted until 1987. In 1920 Lions established the first clubs outside the U.S. in Canada, and in 1925, Helen Keller addressed the international Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, challenging each of the delegates to become "Knights of the Blind."  Keller's moving words at that convention provided the impetus for Lions to unite with a common goal, and in 1989, Lions launched "Sight First" helping tens of millions with serious vision losses and providing improved eye care services.  Today the International Association of Lions Clubs include approximately 1.4 million men and women in more than 46,000 clubs located in approximately 193 countries and geographical areas. See a more detailed history @

Helen Keller
Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of how Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate. A prolific author, Keller was well-travelled and outspoken in her convictions. She campaigned for women's suffrage, labor rights, and other causes.

In 1925, she attended the Lions Clubs International Convention and challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." The Lions accepted her challenge and Lions Clubs’ work ever since has focused on sight programs aimed at preventable blindness. In 1971, the Board of Directors of Lions Clubs International declared that June 1st would be remembered as Helen Keller Day. Lions around the world implement sight-related service projects on Helen Keller Day -

In 1980, on her 100th birthday, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed June 27th as Helen Keller Day.

Watch her on YouTube.

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