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The first Kiwanis Club began in 1915 as an all male club, as did most organizations of its day. It was not until October 1987 that women could join and this major progression did not come easily. The Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club is proud to claim that our club member, Dr. Dwain F. Petersen and past member, Scott M.Taylor were instrumental in accomplishing this goal at the international level. This club, however, demonstrated progressive diversity by electing a Jewish president in the 1930's when other clubs were barring Jews from their memberships.

The name, "Kiwanis" finds its roots in the Native American culture. Today, Kiwanis is an international organization with nearly 8000 clubs in over 77 countries. There are over 215,000 members worldwide with membership open to all races, religions and genders.

The Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club became chartered on Saturday, February 19,1921. The Griebal Tea Rooms on Hickory Street hosted this historic event. Even though the Mankato Downtown Kiwanis Club was the first service club established in the city of Mankato, it was the 520th club formed in the United States. There were 90 charter members. Before long, membership exceeded one hundred and, remarkably, has remained fairly constant through the years.