The Herclaneum Dance Club was started in 1910 and had as its purpose the social elevation of its members a goal it rapidly attained. By 1914, it was the Outstanding Dance Club of St. Louis, and prepared to merge with six other similar groups to form the Federation of Dancing Clubs. After a series of meeting with Colonel H.N. Morgan the Organization’s first honorary member, and others, Henry Giessenbier gained encouragement and took the first steps toward the Jaycee movement of today, On October 13, 1915, at the mission Inn, 32 young men formed the young Men’s Progressive Association. (YMPA)
During the early years of the YMPA, they gained support from the president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, Clarence W. Howard. In 1916, at Howard’s request, the YMPA changed it name to the junior citizens. In 1918, these junior Citizens (JC’s) affiliated with the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, and officially became the Junior Chamber of Commerce.
After retiring from World War 1, Giessenbier produced a caucus of 29 clubs from around the nation. Held in St. Louis on January 20 and 21, 1920, this meeting officially gave birth to the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. The St. Louis group which numbered more than 3,000 became the hub of the national body. During a convention in June of 1920 which included 27 cities, Giessenbier was elected the first president of the national organization. 12 of the 27 cities became charter members of the National Junior Chamber.
In June of 1944, at a war conference of the JC organization in Omaha, the membership contributed to the establishment of a war memorial fund, to be used for a “living memorial” to the Jaycee war dead. Also in 1944, at a meeting held in Mexico City, the Junior Chamber International was formed, a feat which had been attempted since the 30’s. After the Second World War, the first full scale convention of the Unided States Junior Chamber of Commerce was held in Milwaukee. It was during this convention that a young member, William Brownfield, found the inspiration that promoted his authorship of what was to become the official Jaycee Creed
In 1947, the national offices moved to Tulsa Oklahoma, where the citizens had pledged to raise $100,000 to help finance the building to be known as the War Memorial Headquarters. The cornerstone of the Jaycee National Headquaters was laid in August of 1948. It was about the same time that the use of the word “Jaycee” became officially sanctioned. The term itself had been in use Giessenbier’s time, in various spellings, but had never been officially adopted
Many changes have been made throughout the history of the Jaycees, such as at the 1965 national convention in Buffalo, where the membership voted to change the name of the organization to the United States Jaycees. In 1972 a vote was cast allowing 18 year olds to belong to the Jaycees as full voting members. On August 16, 1984, during a special meeting of the United States Jaycees, the membership voted to expand their Membership opportunities by allowing women, ages 18 to 35, to be full voting members. The Jaycees again expanded their membership spectrum in1986 by changing the age span of its members from the old structure of 18 through 35 to the ages 21 through 39 inclusive. In 2004, The United States Jaycees again expanded the membership age range by allowing local chapters to choose to change their range from 18 through 40 years of age