Stories of Optimism

Origin and History of the Optimist Creed
How it was discovered and made official creed of Optimist International revealed

(Reprinted from the February 1944 issue of THE OPTIMIST Magazine)
January 25, 2013

At the Fourth Annual Convention of Optimist International in Kansas City, Missouri, in the year 1922, a code of living was adopted as the official Creed of the organization, known from then on as the Optimist Creed. This Creed, appearing on the back cover page of this issue of the magazine, states in simple and understanding fashion the philosophy of life which is the very foundation and soul of Optimism.

The known history of how it came about that this particular Creed was brought to the attention of and adopted by Optimist International, along with an account of the life of the author of the Creed is of interest to the thousands of Optimists and the boys who have been befriended by those Optimists.

The first monthly magazine published by the International Optimist Clubs was issued just previous to the First Annual convention in June, 1919. An examination of those early magazine reveals that the Optimist Creed first appeared in the December, 1921, issue. Although it was termed the Optimist Creed, the author was unknown at that time and it was merely marked as “selected.” In all probability the editor of that early magazine happened to see the Creed printed elsewhere and thought it good reading material for the International Optimists. In any event, the Creed did not again appear in the International magazine until the August, 1922, issue when it was accorded preferred position on the inside of the front cover page. Again, it was not credited to any author.

The first printing of the Optimist Creed appeared in the December 1921 issue of THE OPTIMIST magazine

Officially Adopted in 1922
The face that the Creed had been published on several occasions in the International magazine and in various club publications gave it a deep interest among Optimists which could not be denied. Indicative of this interest was the resolution adopted at the fourth annual convention held in June, 1922, in Kansas City, Missouri, as follows: “Resolved, that the Optimist Club in convention do hereby adopt the following anonymous sentiment as the official Creed of the Optimist Club.” (“Sentiment” referred to was the Creed).

Following the adoption of the Creed at the early convention, we find it received regular preferred position and prominence and was printed on the covers of the International magazine in the succeeding issues. However, its author was still unknown.

He Discovered Creed
It was not until the February, 1923, magazine was printed that the general membership knew who “discovered” the Creed which had been adopted at the 1922 convention. In an editorial appearing in that issue, Bert S. Hubbard, the first president of the San Francisco Optimist Club, was presented as the man. The editorial pointed out that Optimist Hubbard found the Creed among his effects and where the author’s name should have been was the word “selected.” With that for his inspiration, Bert gave it the name “The Optimist Creed,” had it printed and offered copies to the San Francisco Club which immediately adopted it as its official Creed. From there it was taken to Kansas City as outlined above.

In an editorial appearing in the November, 1922, magazine, Thomas B. Elliott of St. Louis, then secretary of the organization, revealed that Christian D. Larson, editor of the New Progress magazine in Los Angeles, was the author of the Creed. 

It is our understanding that Optimist Hubbard, known as “Uncle Bert” to his many friends, learned that his friend Christian Larson had written the Creed and, upon securing from the author the legal right, presented it for adoption as the official Creed of the organization.

The Author
Christian D. Larson was born on a farm near Forest City, Iowa, in February, 1874, the fourth in a family of eight.  His parents were born in Bergen, Norway.

As a boy he worked on the farm and attended country school.  He later attended Iowa State College for two years and at the age of 22 began lecture work along psychological subjects.

A prolific writer, he has written much inspirational literature, in addition to his editorial writing and lecture work.  At present, he divides his time between lecture work and writing at his home in Beverly Hills, California. 

When asked what inspired him in composing the Optimist Creed, Mr. Larson has stated that “I wish I could tell you what inspired the writing of the lines ‘Promise Yourself,’ but there was nothing in particular; it was just the product of a mind animated continuously by a deep desire to write something helpful.”







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