1919 Kiwanis International Convention

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The 1919 Kiwanis International Convention was hosted May 20-22, 1919 by the Birmingham Kiwanis Club, one of the largest chapters in the 4-year-old organization. Support from chapters in Atlanta, Chattanooga, Memphis, New Orleans, Dallas, San Antonio and Oklahoma helped to win the event, which was billed with the motto "Way Down South in Dixie".

The convention, held at the Tutwiler Hotel, proved to be a watershed in its transformation from a business club into a civic club. The rights to the Kiwanis name were purchased by the members from founder, Allen Browne, for $17,500 paid in cash during the convention. The member's checks were personally guaranteed by Birmingham chapter president J. Mercer Barnett, who sent his teenage assistant Joseph H. Brady to retrieve the briefcase of cash from the Birmingham Trust National Bank. A reorientation of the club's mission to civic activities was emphasized with a new motto "We Build". Barnett was elected president of Kiwanis International at the following year's convention in Portland, Oregon.