Since Toastmasters began, more than two million
men and women have benefited from the organizaiton.
The first club was founded in October 1924, when a goup of men assembled by Dr. Ralf C. Smedley met in the basement of the Santa Ana, California YMCA to form a club "to afford practice and training on the art of public speaking and in presiding over meetings, and promote sociablility and good fellowship among its members."
The group took the name "Toastmaster."
A year later, a second club was started in Anaheim, California, followed by a third in Los Angeles. By 1930, it was apparent that a federation was necessary to coordinate activities of the clubs and to provide standard method. After formation of a club in Victoria, British Columbia, the goup became known as Toastmasters International.
Growth was slow during the early years, but the number of clubs increased steadily. the forerunner of today's C&L program, Basic Training, was introduced in 1942 and has been expanded and updated many times since then to keep abreast of the times and members' needs.
Membership in Toastmasters International increased rapidly after the end of World War II, and by 1954 the number of Toastmasters Clubs has approached 1500.
Gavel Clubs were formed in 1958 to accommodate groups wanting Toastmasters training by not qualified for Toastmasters membership. These clubs provide communication and leadership trainig in correctional institutions, hospitals, and schools. In 1966, the Youth Leadership Program, for young people in junior and senior high school, was added to the list of established community programs being presented by Toastmasters.
In 1962, World Headquarters offices were moved to a new building in Santa Ana, California, not far from where the first club began.
In 1973, Toastmasters club membership was opened to women, enabling them to benefit also from self-development in communication and leadership. In the same year, a comprehensive listening program was introduced to further help members develop their communication skills. the following year saw a celebration of the organization's first 50 years and the promise of an even more successful scond half-century.
New programs, including the modular Advanced Manual Series, Succell/Leadership Series, and self-study cassette tape programs, were added to augment the Communication and Leadership program. Growth in new clubs, especially in the corporate sector, reached new heights in the early 1990's with more than 8,000 clubs. In 1990 World Headquartes Offices were moved to Tancho Santa Margarita, California.
Toastmasters International entered the 1990s as the undisputed world leader in public speaking training with the promise thath the best is yet come. As the decade begins, more people than ever will benefit from the Toastmasters program.