JCI History

JCI History

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 –offer leadership opportunities to young people, giving them hands-on experience through serving the community. That concept has never wavered.




1920 – The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (USJCC) was formed in St. Louis
1923 – Get Out The Vote was the first Jaycee program to receive national endorsement.
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.


1936 – National Wildlife Federation established with guidance of USJC.
1938 – 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.


1944 – Junior Chamber International (JCI) formed at Pan American Congress in Mexico City.
1947 – Official approval of “Jaycee” as synonym of organization. Adoption of Jaycee Creed.


1954 – First Outstanding Young Farmer program held.
1959 – Jaycees supported statehood for Alaska. Hawaii gained statehood the following year due to Jaycee efforts.


1961 – First Governmental Affairs Leadership Seminar conducted.
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 7,000,000 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.


1984 – Bylaw change admitted women as full and regular members.
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.


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.