The Joseph A. Caulder Collection
Past Rotary International Director 1928-29   -  Regina, Sask., Canada

"Eyewitness to Rotary International's First 50 Years"


JOSEPH A. CAULDER - An eyewitness to Rotary International's first 50 years.

Album 1 - Page 92:  PERCY HODGSON'S Letter, February 9, 1951

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Percy Hodgson, LL. D.. D. Hum.                          

PAST PRESIDENT (1949-1950)

Rotary International


21 Commerce Street

Pawtucket, Rhode Island, U.S.A.

February 9, 1951

Mr. J. A. Caulder

50 King St. W.



Dear Joe:

Please pardon the delay in answering your letter of January 4th. However, I see by the copy of a letter which was sent to you by my secretary, that they explained to you about my absence from the office.

We have just returned after spending several weeks addressing various groups - some of them Rotary gatherings and many of them Chambers of Commerce, etc. In addition, I attended the most important executive meeting of the Board, and the Board Session itself. We had many knotty problems to solve. We did it in an unhurried manner; we hope our conclusions will prove to be right.

You have given me a most difficult job to perform. It isn't too easy to look back retrospect, and pick out things that would be considered high-lights of a Presidential Year. However my dear Joe, I will try to do what you have requested and give you information which I hope will be helpful in preparing the data that you have been commissioned to compile.

One of the first jobs that I undertook when I became President was to do something tangible about the lack of Rotary education or information among the lay-rotarians in general. Therefore, I chose a small committee of the board to make a thorough study of all the Rotary literature, books, leaflets, pamphlets, etc. This committee gave a very comprehensive report to the board, and the outcome was that we streamlined a lot of our literature, discarded a great amount of it, and set up a plan whereby it will be constantly given a perusal at least twice every Rotary year. In this way we keep it modern, current, and perhaps I might even say here I hope, make it more interesting and readable to the Rotarians world-wide. During the examination of this literature we found it was possible to translate into many languages some of it that had not been translated previously. Since that time we have had a lot of factual information given to us telling us this

Mr. J. A. Caulder (Cont'd)                   -2-                     Feb. 9, 1951

has helped tremendously. Another thing along Rotary educational lines, I personally conducted dozens and dozens of Rotary Forums in all parts of the Rotary world. Many times, after a regular meeting, I would ask the men to stay and I would match my time with theirs, answering questions to the best of my ability - and, frankly my dear Joe, the memory of these meetings are treasures that I shall always cherish. I say this emphatically because I was helped, and I hope the members of these various groups also received some help and guidance. I recall one of them in India where I spent two solid days and part of two nights in carrying on a miniature international assembly with the district governors from all over India. Similar ones were held in South America, in the Far East, and in Europe. The inter-city forums which were held in Great Britain and Ireland, I am told by the officers of R.I. B. I., helped greatly in cementing Rotary relationship between that organization and the parent body.

During my year as President - after each trip Edith and I came back into Chicago and had a meeting with the entire staff, telling them about conditions as we found them not giving them a travelogue, but telling them about Rotary conditions and advising them where they could do a better job in carrying out their duties as members of the Secretariat. We tried to help them to understand the people with whom they were corresponding, a little bit better than previously.

You will recall perhaps, that I also initiated sending out the Secretary's Letter to all of the past officers of Rotary International. This has proven to be a great help in keeping these valuable Rotarians current with Rotary information. We have received literally hundreds of complimentary letters on just this one move.

You probably will also recall that at the International Assembly, several new ideas were incorporated into the program of the Assembly, and I am told by the men in the Secretariat, that they were most worthwhile.

Another thing which I tried to do was to select District Governors from the previous year that had proven that they were outstanding in their work throughout their respective districts. These men were placed upon International Committees and did an outstandingly good job. The purpose in mind was to give the se men who had earned their spurs, an opportunity of

Mr. J. A. Caulder (Cont'd)                        -3-                Feb. 9, 1951

advancement in Rotary, hoping of course that they will eventually be picked for directors, and other officers of Rotary International, and with the background that they would have surely they should be better officers by being better educated - thereby being able to carry out their duties in a more efficient manner when called upon.

We also made an honest attempt to meet with the heads of all the nations in which we visited - 79 in total. Here we made an honest attempt to impart Rotary knowledge to these national leaders and we found that they had an insatiable appetite in most every instance, for Rotary. I in turn received from them information about their particular countries, which I have tried diligently to pass on to other people since that time. This routine took a lot of my time but I think it was very much worth while. I also might add that we called upon the heads of Church whenever the opportunity presented itself. Due to what has happened recently by the Vatican decree, one would think this didn't have any effect. However, I can assure you my dear Joe, that it did, because many of these church leaders told me that next to the church - Rotary was doing more good to bring about understanding than anything else that they knew of. I put this following item in for what it is worth:

At our first Board Meeting I broke the agenda down into sections and created several small committees of the board and had them study certain items of the agenda, bringing in a report on a certain day. This saved the board a great amount of time and we were able to have two full days at the end of the week where the full board could just sit back at their leisure and explore and analyze Rotary from all angles. From those meetings and we had three of them, to be exact - a great many things of real value came to the forefront; things which were on the agenda both of July of last year for the new board, and January of this year, and there are more that will be discussed at a later date. Wherever we travelled, I tried to find out what specifically the Rotarians and Rotary Clubs needed most, and whenever possible I gave them suggestions along the four avenues of Rotary Service, and even today letters are still coming in showing their gratitude, for this practical help. In brief Joe, we tried to be ambassadors of good-will, and we tried diligently to exemplify the Rotary spirit wherever we went. I met with - not only the present officers of Rotary - but past officers, and sought from them information which they might be willing to impart that would help Rotary International do a better job. I was constantly on the look-out for outstanding men that I could recommend to my

Mr. J. A. Caulder (Cont'd)                       -4-                 Feb. 9, 1951

successor so that it might help him have stronger and better committees in carrying out the Rotary job of work that he has this year. I gave him these suggestions with no strings attached, merely as suggestions and he very warmly welcomed them. When meeting with the Detroit Convention committee I told them that we must have a program based on the policies and ideals of Rotary, and that I wanted those that attended the Convention to go back home fired with the spirit of Rotary, due to the lessons which they would have been taught by the Convention speakers. In brief, we tried to get away from the circus type convention and the window dressing. We had a minimum of it and had a maximum of Rotary information. I made certain specific recommendations to the Board about cutting own expenses in Rotary; also in getting a smaller, more compact Council on Legislation, feeling that the present one is getting a bit unwieldy.

I also made recommendations whereby we could safeguard the Convention in stopping any controversial legislation that would be badly publicized by the newspapers. I spent many hours with Phil Lovejoy and George Means, making recommendations for changes in the Secretariat, and I have letters from Phil stating that many of these changes proved to be very much worth while.

Wherever we travelled we tried to adopt the customs of the country and make ourselves one of that nationality. This wasn't always too easy to do but it was fun trying, and the people of those nations seemed to appreciate it. In addition with the members of the Secretariat, both Edith and I became particularly friendly - so much so that when I visit them now attending Board meetings and Committee meetings, it is like old home week whenever I go into the various departments and I always make an honest attempt to do this and say "hello" to them and catch up on old news. They certainly appreciate it and it makes them feel that they are really members of a world-wide team - not just holding down a job but having a very definite part in doing their share of the big job at hand.

There are so many other things that I could relate to you Joe, but I am sure that this letter must be getting a bit boring by this time. I have rambled as you can well see but I am trying to think of things that might be of some help to you. At any rate I've made an honest attempt to do what you asked me to. If

Mr. J. A. Caulder (Cont'd)                       -5-                 Feb. 9, 1951

this isn't sufficient, or if you want me to give you information of a different nature, do not hesitate. Please let me know and I'll write you another letter giving you whatever information you desire.

Please give all our friends in Toronto our best wishes, and to you and your sweet wife we send our warmest regards. Thanks again for letting me have this opportunity of "spouting off".

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